Will Colston was not thrilled at the prospect of attending Northwest Mississippi Community College, but once he got there his life changed.
“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I just knew I wanted to work with my hands,” Colston said. “I didn’t want to come at first and once I talked to a couple of instructors, I changed my mind and I am glad I did.”
Colston is on track to graduate in December with an Associate of Applied Sciences in Manufacturing Technology, but his path was not the usual one. He came into Northwest through the MI-BEST program.
The Mississippi Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (MI-BEST) program is open to Mississippi residents aged 18 and older who have not earned a high school diploma. MI-BEST has been in effect at Northwest since spring 2016. It is funded by the Department of Labor and the W.F. Kellogg’s Foundation. At Northwest, MI-BEST students can choose college classes in manufacturing or health care while earning their High School Equivalency (HSE).
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.
While MI-BEST got Colston in the door, he took the ball and ran with it himself. Initially, Colston was taking HSE classes because there were some questions regarding his high school diploma. He had been homeschooled and had earned a diploma from the Farm School in Nashville. Eventually, his diploma was accepted by Northwest, but not before he began HSE classes. “I had classes with Mrs. Moore and Mrs. Camp while my diploma situation was being worked out. They were great instructors,” Colston said.
He began taking classes in Manufacturing Technology his first semester and discovered that he really wanted to work in machining. “I liked working with gear drives, chain drives and hand tools,” Colston said. He has since taken classes in Computer Numerical Control (CNC) and really feels he has found his niche. “I really want to come back and get a degree in Precision Manufacturing and Machining. I want to be more specialized,” Colston said.
Colston credits his instructors for helping him realize what he wants to do with his life. “My instructors have been great. Northwest has very good teachers,” Colston said.
The Manufacturing Technology Program prepares individuals to work within a
manufacturing environment in production, CNC operations and management. The student will learn skills such as how to use and maintain equipment, read blueprints, trouble shoot and decision-making skills, as well as skills in computers, quality and inventory control. Students may earn a Career Certificate after completing 31 hours or a Technical Certificate after completing 45 hours. Upon successful completion of this program, graduates earn the Associate of Applied Science degree. Students in the program will complete OSHA and Office Proficiency Assessment and Certifications. The program is offered at the Senatobia campus only.
For more information on the Manufacturing Technology program, contact Walter Ruby at 662-562-3359 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the MI-BEST program at Northwest, contact Kairit at 662-560-1135 or email email@example.com Rachelle Washington, MI-BEST navigator at (662) 562-3715 or firstname.lastname@example.org.