Mississippi Valley State University will be the only SWAC college or university to have a woman band director. 

The HBCU made history by becoming the first school in the Southwestern Athletic Conference to ever have a woman as a band director.

Dr. Kerry Anne Simon was announced to the prestigious position Tuesday after the retirement of Kenneth Milton. Before her promotion, Simon served as the associate director of bands for the Mean Green Marching Machine.

"We’re excited to have Dr. Kerry Simon carry on and build upon the excellence of our University Bands program,” said MVSU President Dr. Jerryl Briggs in a statement. “As an alumna of MVSU, she has deep roots and an undeniable passion for The Valley. I am looking forward to seeing great things from her. Congratulations, Dr. Simon!”

Not only will Simon make history as the first female SWAC band director, but she is also MVSU's first woman band director. 

Over the course of her music career, the talented clarinet player never allowed her gender to stop her ascension. The Memphis native earned a bachelors in music education from MVSU. She also has two masters in education and a Ph.D. from Florida State University.

“It hasn’t hit me yet,” she said in a press release. “This is a maIe-dominated field, for sure. I think we’re in the time now where people are paying more attention to women in the workplace.”

Simon taught at local Mississippi schools and is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. Prior to returning to her alma mater, she served as the assistant director of bands at Coahoma Community College from 2014 to 2017. 

As the new leader of the Mean Green Marching Machine, she wants to take the band to new heights.

“I would like for us to be a force to be reckoned with. I’m built with a mindset for greatness, and I want that for Valley and the band,” she said.