Jody Dye was really tired of having no success in her career when she came into her sister-in-law Cathy Moore’s office that day. Moore, a Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) counselor at Northwest Mississippi Community College’s WIN Center in Senatobia, was about to open a door for Dye that would change both Dye’s and others’ lives.
“I kept trying to get into the caregiver business, but I just couldn’t. There were just dead ends everywhere,” Dye said. The Senatobia native was working as a caregiver for a woman east of town whose daughter mentioned that she could pay her from a long-term insurance policy if she had been a certified nursing assistant (CNA). “I had tried several times to get the certification, but things kept getting in the way,” Dye said. She said she had also tried to get her high school equivalency (HSE), but had not followed through.
Dye had dropped out of high school early in her junior year, after becoming pregnant with her daughter Kristi. “Little did I know the struggles that would follow me for years to come. I struggled with not having my high school diploma, not being qualified for the position, rejection, minimum wage jobs and being unemployed. It was just a dead-end street,” Dye said.
Dye stated that she had been in and out of caregiver jobs for the past 15 years, and had made several attempts to gain her CNA credential, but was unsuccessful. “It was extremely frustrating,” Dye said. She stated that she was given an opportunity to care for her husband’s caregiver and went from one job to the next. She began to care for a lady who lived east of Senatobia who asked her if she was certified, and she had to say that she wasn’t, but the family told her that if they had been, they could have paid her with a long-term insurance policy instead of out of pocket.
The fact that the family she was working for could not pay her with the insurance policy because of her lack of credentials is what led her to her sister-in-law’s office. “I knew then that I had to see if there was anything I could do, and I knew just who to ask – my sister-in-law Cathy Moore,” Dye said.
Moore told her about a new program called MI-BEST that could potentially be the answer she was looking for.
MI-BEST (Mississippi Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training) which is funded by the Department of Labor and the W.F. Kellogg’s Foundation, is open to Mississippi residents aged 18 and older who have not earned a high school diploma. At Northwest, MI-BEST students can choose college classes in manufacturing or health care. According to Elizabeth Kairit, MI-BEST coordinator, there are 12 seats for the manufacturing pathway, and 20 for health care. Upon completion of the MI-BEST program, in order to achieve the Mississippi Competency Based HSE, students will have achieved Silver level of the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) 15 hours of college credit, the Smart Start credential and an industry-recognized credential. The MI-BEST program is free to students.
Dye started the healthcare program in January 2018 and upon completion of the program in May, she had achieved her HSE, 15 hours of college credit and after passing her state board, is now a CNA.
“When Jody first expressed an interest in getting her HSE I knew she was a perfect candidate for the MI-BEST program. I’m pretty sure she got tired of seeing my number show up on her phone but I was not letting her miss this opportunity to fulfill her dream of getting her HSE and becoming a CNA. I’ll let this settle in for a bit then start pushing her forward to the next step, Practical Nursing,” Moore said.
“There is not enough good to say about all four of my instructors. All of the office personnel and instructors – just everybody was so encouraging and informative. Those are the two main words that I use to describe them. From the minute I met with Cathy, she pushed me through and they were so helpful. I was totally lost and they went way over and beyond what we needed,” Dye said.
But Dye did not stop at her certification. She has not only now gotten her own private care duty business called “At Your Service” off the ground, she is helping some of her fellow MI-BEST graduates find jobs. “I have been self-employed for 15 years, but since coming to Northwest, it has taken off. People like to know that you are certified. It has helped me a great deal in my own career,” Dye said.
“We knew Jody would be a success when we first interviewed her. She came in ready to better herself and had a very positive attitude. She showed strong determination during the semester, and she was a constant source of encouragement to her classmates. We are very proud of her and are thankful we were able to be a small part of her success. It makes my heart smile when a student texts me to say they got a job working with Mrs. Jody. I look forward to watching her business grow,” Kairit said.
“Cathy introduced me to the MI-BEST program at Northwest. I am not only now a CNA with an HSE, I am successfully operating my own business,” Dye said.
For more information on the MI-BEST program at Northwest, contact Kairit at 662-560-1135 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Rachelle Washington, MI-BEST navigator at (662) 562-3715 or email@example.com.