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USM Honors Lightsey as 2018 Boardman Alumna of Year

Wed, 11/14/2018 - 04:12pm | By: Van Arnold

The Business Advisory Council and the College of Business and Economic Development at The University of Southern Mississippi has selected Joy Lightsey as the 2018 Boardman Alumna of the Year. She will be honored during the annual Alumna of the Year Luncheon set for Friday, Nov. 16 at the Trent Lott National Center on the Hattiesburg campus. 

“Joy Lightsey has offered us an amazing example of a career well done with her integrity, work ethic, and honor,” said Dr. Faye Gilbert, dean of USM's College of Business and Economic Development. “We will induct her into the business honorary, Beta Gamma Sigma, based on her accomplishments and we will be grateful for her leadership that resulted in the completion of Scianna Hall. She is a remarkable honoree for the Alumna of the Year.”

Lightsey earned her BA degree in accounting from USM in 1973. She began her career as an auditor with the Mississippi State Department of Audit before accepting a position as Internal Auditor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. She then served as Director of Student Financial Aid at the center, leaving that position to become assistant director of the newly formed Mississippi Guarantee Student Loan Agency. 

She then became the Chief Financial Officer for Gordon Marks Advertising, a student loan operations consultant for Smith Barney and finally the Senior Vice President of Operations for SunTech, Inc.

From 1991 until 2003, Lightsey was deeply involved in and contributed greatly to SunTech's growth from a start-up loan servicer to the second largest independent loan servicer in the country, and the fourth largest of 36 student loan servicing companies, managing about $7.5 billion in loans to over 500,000 student borrowers or their parents.

SunTech had a superior computer system and a stellar track record including the “exceptional performer” designation from the U. S. Department of Education, consistent “no errors found” reports from auditors and a well-earned reputation for integrity throughout the industry.

People who know Lightsey are quick to note that her success is based on integrity and hard work. While the attitude to “do the right thing” is a product of her upbringing, it was strengthened by her work as an auditor and financial officer. But the “hard work” mentality grew out of her many household chores and her deep respect for her father who worked two full time jobs to support his family.

After SunTech was sold in 2003, Lightsey continued to work for the new owner as a consultant for the next two years before retiring. 

Since retiring, she has been actively involved with USM. She has established an endowment for accounting students and served as chair of the Building Better Business Campaign on 2015, supporting the completion of Scianna Hall. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the USM Foundation.