Fourteen Northwest Mississippi Community College students have been inducted into the 2019-2020 Northwest Hall of Fame, the highest honor a Northwest student can achieve based on their academic accomplishments and involvement in student life at the college. The group was honored at the Feb. 13 Board of Trustees meeting on the Senatobia campus. Six Hall of Fame students are from the Senatobia campus. Philip “Gabe” Waldrop of Senatobia is studying mathematics at Northwest. He is a graduate of Senatobia High School. During his time at Northwest, Waldrop has served as a student recruiter, vice president of the American Chemical Society and president of Mu Alpha Theta. He has also been a member of Phi Theta Kappa and the Student Government Association. His honors include being named an Outstanding Student and the Senatobia Rotary Club’s Student of the Month. He plans to pursue a master’s degree in mathematics, and will either obtain his Ph.D, or seek employment in the finance or software fields. Theatre student Brietta Goodman of Horn Lake is a graduate of Horn Lake High School. While at Northwest, Goodman has been a member of the Northwest Singers, Northwest Entertainers, Chamber Choir, Phi Theta Kappa and president of the Northwest Player’s Club. She has received recognitions through the Allie Awards and the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Other honors have included being awarded the Jo Logan Endowed Scholarship and being named an Outstanding Student. Goodman plans to attend the University of Mississippi and obtain a bachelor’s degree. After earning her undergraduate degree, she plans to pursue work with Carnival Cruise Lines as a performer or move to New York City to pursue musical theatre. Madison Triplett, a native of Coldwater, is studying communicative disorders. The homeschool graduate was recently named a William Winters Scholar. She has also been named an Outstanding Student and the Senatobia Rotary Club’s Student of the Month. Her involvement at Northwest has included serving as president of the Northwest Education Association and serving as a member of Phi Theta Kappa, Theta Sigma Chapter, the Northwest Singers and the Wesley Foundation. After leaving Northwest, Triplett plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in communicative disorders, minoring in Spanish, followed by her master’s degree, licensure and accreditation in the same field. Satsha Burden, a Tupelo native studying aerospace engineering, has made the President’s List, been named a HEADWAE Student and an Outstanding Student. Burden is an active member of campus, with memberships in Mu Alpha Theta, Phi Theta Kappa and the American Chemical Society. He has also served as captain of Northwest’s cheerleading squad. Burden’s career goals include attending Mississippi State University and continuing to cheer in addition to joining the Air Force ROTC program. Upon graduating from MSU, Burden hopes to work for NASA or SPACEX. Adrian Suarez, a nursing student from Olive Branch, is a graduate of Olive Branch High School. At Northwest, Suarez has been a member of Phi Theta Kappa, Theta Sigma Chapter and the Baptist Student Union. He has served as captain of the soccer team, and been named an All-State Athlete and an Academic All-American Athlete. Suarez plans to become a nurse anesthetist. Sara Moore of Coldwater is studying medical laboratory science at Northwest. She is a graduate of Strayhorn High School. Moore has been a member of the American Chemical Society, Northwest Players Club, Phi Theta Kappa, Theta Sigma Chapter and a Student Government Association officer. She has been named an Outstanding Student and received the June S. Gardner Scholarship, Tate County Fair Association Scholarship and the Presidential Scholarship. Moore’s goal is to become a traveling certified medical laboratory scientist and later teach college microbiology. Four Hall of Fame students are from the DeSoto Center. Jessica Neal is studying business administration at Northwest. She is a homeschool graduate from Horn Lake who is in the general college pathway. Neal is a member of Phi Theta Kappa. Her plan for the future is to obtain her bachelor’s degree in fine arts and her master’s and doctoral degrees in biblical counseling. She hopes to eventually become a child counselor. Landon (Gray) Smith of Hernando is studying hotel and restaurant management technology. He is a graduate of Hernando High School. He has been accepted to the University of Memphis Kemmons Wilson School of Hospitality and Resort Management, where he plans to eventually earn his master’s degree. Smith’s long-term career goal is to become a supervisor at Graceland and begin a career as a resort manager. He has been a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the Northwest Singers, Northwest DECA, and Volunteer Memphis. Lynette Rohrbacher, a student in the pre-pharmacy pathway, is from Southaven and a graduate of Southaven High School. She is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, and has earned a spot on the Vice President’s List. Rohrbacher plans to transfer to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and obtain a doctoral degree in pharmacy with a goal of working in pharmaceutical research. Tamea Gibbs of Ripley is studying funeral service technology, and plans to become an American Institute of Health Care Professionals certified grief counselor. At Northwest, she is a member of Phi Theta Kappa and has appeared on the President’s List. Four Hall of Fame students are from the Lafayette-Yalobusha Technical Center. Donterrius Hervey is an accounting student from Water Valley and a graduate of Water Valley High School. A member of Phi Theta Kappa, Hervey has landed on the President’s and Vice President’s lists. He plans to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of Mississippi. Matthew Finn of Oxford is studying accounting. He attended Oxford High School, and plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Mississippi and obtain his Certified Public Accountant license. Finn is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, and has appeared on the President’s List. Brendan Galbraith, a native of Water Valley, attended South Lakes High School in Reston, Virginia. He is president of Phi Theta Kappa, and has made the President’s List. He plans to transfer to the University of Mississippi to pursue a degree in integrated marketing communications with a minor in communications. Emily “Emme” Brown is studying elementary education at Northwest. She is from Oxford, and is a graduate of Lafayette High School. Brown plans to transfer to the University of Mississippi to pursue her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education. During her time at Northwest, she has been named to the Phi Theta Kappa All-Mississippi Academic Team and landed on the President’s List. She has also been Phi Theta Kappa’s vice president of Fellowship.
Northwest Mississippi Community College recently announced its 2020 HEADWAE honorees. The HEADWAE student is sophomore Satsha Burden, who attends Northwest’s Senatobia campus. The HEADWAE faculty member is Lisa Strong, biology instructor and lab coordinator at Northwest’s Senatobia campus. HEADWAE stands for “Higher Education Appreciation Day-Working for Academic Excellence.” The award was established by Mississippi Legislative Resolution No. 88 in 1987 to annually honor academically talented students and faculty members of Mississippi’s higher education institutions who have made outstanding contributions in promoting academic excellence. Burden and Strong will be honored at the 33rd annual HEADWAE program in Jackson on March 2. Burden, a sophomore studying aerospace engineering, is a graduate of Tupelo High School. He is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, Mu Alpha Theta and the American Chemical Society. Burden has also served as captain of the cheerleading squad, been named an Outstanding Student and been inducted into Northwest’s Hall of Fame. He is the son of Fabian and Ametria Burden of Tupelo, and has a brother, Christopher. “When the teacher told me there was one student chosen from the whole school, I was honored,” Burden said. “It’s given me more of a drive to work even harder toward my dreams.” Burden plans to transfer to Mississippi State University, where he hopes to continue cheering and possibly join the Air Force ROTC program. Upon completing his undergraduate degree, he hopes to work for NASA or SPACEX. Strong has been an instructor at Northwest for 15 years. She attended Northwest before transferring to Delta State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in biology education. She earned her master’s degree from the University of Mississippi. Additionally, Strong and two of her fellow biology instructors, Robin Robison and Melissa Greene, have recently had a lab manual published. Strong and her husband Bready are parents of two children, Audrey and Luke. For more information about Northwest’s pathways and programs, visit northwestms.edu.
Northwest Mississippi Community College is proud to announce that the school has been named among the top Military Friendly institutions in the nation. Military Friendly has released its 2020-2021 Military Friendly Schools list, and Northwest earned a silver designation, meaning the school is within 20 percent of the 10th-ranked organization. Colleges on the list are grouped into award categories based on enrollment size and type. Now in its 10th year, the Military Friendly Schools list has come to set the standard for higher education institutions to provide the best opportunities for veterans and their spouses. This prestigious list provides a comprehensive guide for veterans and their families using data sources from federal agencies and proprietary survey information from participating organizations. Institutions earning the Military Friendly School designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey completed by the school. Methodology, criteria and weightings were determined by VIQTORY, a service-disabled, veteran-owned business that connects the military community with civilian employment, educational and entrepreneurial opportunities. The full list of schools can be found at militaryfriendly.com
Northwest Mississippi Community College is proud to announce that instructor Carla Townsend has been recognized as its Humanities Teacher of the Year. Townsend is one of 30 recipients statewide being honored in the Mississippi Humanities Council’s (MHC) 2020 Humanities Teacher Awards, which pay tribute to outstanding faculty in traditional humanities fields at each of Mississippi’s institutions of higher learning. When asked how she felt when she heard the news, Townsend described herself as a perfectionist, explaining that she did not feel deserving. “I was really kind of dumbfounded because it’s just my third year of teaching full time,” she said. Still, she describes the recognition as both reaffirming and humbling for her. Townsend, a history instructor at Northwest’s DeSoto Center, is in her fifth year of teaching and her third year in the classroom. She initially taught online classes for two years as an adjunct instructor, but strongly prefers the classroom. “I get to develop that relationship and see their faces when they find a topic really interesting,” she said. A native of Independence, where she still resides today, Townsend is a graduate of Independence High School. With plans to go to law school, which she would later decide against, she spent two years at Northwest taking pre-law classes. Next, she studied history at the University of Southern Mississippi for a semester before completing her undergraduate studies at the University of Mississippi, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. After graduation, Townsend went to work in the Northwest Foundation Office, where she stayed for seven years and learned that she wanted more direct interaction with students. Helping her younger brother with a history paper also drove that desire home. Five years into her job with the Foundation, she decided to further her education. She earned her Master of Arts degree, with a concentration in European history, online through American Public University. Townsend is passionate about the work she does, and her attentiveness to her students and how they learn best is what makes her the award-winning teacher that she has become so early in her career. “I change the way I teach every year, and I model that off of students’ reactions and interest,” she explained. Townsend is determined to engage students because, in her experience, many of them often do not find history to be relevant. “I want them to realize it’s fun and it can be interesting; it’s not just a timeline,” she said. “I always tell them on the first day of class that history can read better than any fiction you’ll ever pick up.” Case in point, Townsend will give a lecture about Virginia Hall, an American spy who worked behind enemy lines during World War II, on Wednesday, Feb. 26, as part of her Teacher of the Year recognition. Her lecture, titled “One Woman’s Fight Against the Butcher of Lyon,” is open to the public. The event will be held in room 104 in the Haraway Center, located on Northwest’s Senatobia campus, at 3 p.m. “Everybody talks about Hitler, and everybody talks about a battle and your known figures and men and their role,” she said. “Not a lot talk about women. Everybody’s story during World War II is fascinating to me, but women’s even more so because of the limitations put on them by society.” Townsend will be honored during the MHC’s Public Humanities Awards in Jackson on March 27. To view the full list of winners, visit mshumanities.org.
Northwest Mississippi Community College is excited to announce that its Senatobia campus will be the first stop in Mississippi for the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibition “Crossroads: Change in Rural America.” The exhibition opens at the R.C. Pugh Library on Sept. 12, 2020, and will be available for viewing through Oct. 27. The exhibit, presented by the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street in cooperation with the Mississippi Humanities Council, is an examination of the evolving landscape of rural America. “’Crossroads’ allows us to reflect on the history of Northwest’s 11 counties and their communities’ present and future, and we are excited to explore what the future may hold for our rural areas,” said Dr. Michael Heindl, Northwest president. “Northwest is committed to the success of our communities by furthering our 11 counties’ economic and community development through our college-community partnerships.” Out of 12 applicants, Northwest was selected to be one of six statewide hosts of the “Crossroads” exhibit as part of the Museum on Main Street program, a national, state and local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to rural cultural organizations. The exhibition will tour the six chosen Mississippi communities from Sept. 12, 2020 through June 27, 2021. “Crossroads” explores how rural American communities changed in the 20th century. From sea to shining sea, the vast majority of the United States landscape remains rural, with only 3.5 percent of the landmass considered urban. Since 1900, the percentage of Americans living in rural areas dropped from 60 percent to 17 percent. The exhibition takes a look at that remarkable change and how rural Americans responded. For generations, Americans have relied on rural crossroads. These places where people gather to exchange goods, services and culture and to engage in political and community discussions are an important part of our cultural fabric. Despite the massive economic and demographic impacts brought on by these changes, America’s small towns continue to creatively focus on new opportunities for growth and development. “We look forward to hosting complementary programs that will explore the history of rural America, the future of rural America businesses and the arts and music of rural America,” said Dr. Melissa Wright, Northwest’s director of Learning Resources. The exhibit will be open for viewing Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m.-9 p.m., 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. on Fridays and 2-7 p.m. on Sundays. The exhibit and all related programs are free and open to the public. For more information, call Wright at (662) 562-3277 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Northwest Mississippi Community College is proud to announce the publication of two textbooks written by Northwest faculty members. Hawkes Publishing has published the third edition of “Beginning Statistics,” written by Carolyn Wiley, Northwest’s associate vice president of Academic Instruction and Institutional Effectiveness, Kimberly Denley and Emily Atchley. According to Wiley, the book is an introductory statistics textbook geared toward students in non-STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) pathways. The textbook contains applications from a number of areas, including business, psychology, education and medical. “We try to draw from a whole bunch of different fields,” Wiley said. “Our focus is more on how to interpret and analyze the statistics and use them instead of crunching all the numbers.” Wiley, Denley and Atchley, who have about 40 years of combined teaching experience between them, began writing the first edition in 2003 when all three were teaching statistics at the University of Mississippi. “None of us were happy with the books we were finding because we felt like they didn’t have enough mathematics or we felt like they had too much of an emphasis on mathematics,” Wiley said. “We tried to write a textbook that spoke a little bit more plainly; we really tried to use language that anybody can understand.” While they no longer all teach at the same school, they have continued to work together on their shared project. This time around, the plan was to simply update some of the book’s examples to make them more current. However, once they dug in, they soon realized there was a heavy amount of material they wanted to revise. “It ended up being a major revision, and we are super excited,” Wiley said. “Of course you always want each edition to feel like it’s the best, but we definitely feel like this is the best of the three by leaps and bounds.” As a full-time employee at Northwest, Wiley’s work on the latest edition of the book took place at night after getting she and her husband Bryan’s youngest child, an infant at the time, to sleep. With a third edition of their book now on the market, Wiley said the experience is more surreal than ever. “I didn’t think I’d have one, much less three, (books) on the market,” she said. Wiley is originally from south Louisiana, but remained in north Mississippi after graduating from the University of Mississippi. She, her husband and their four children currently reside in Horn Lake. She has been a Northwest employee since 2005. “Beginning Statistics,” which is among the top 20 in sales nationwide for statistics books, is available through hawkeslearning.com. Pearson, another widely-known name in the publishing world, has published “Laboratory Manual for Human Anatomy & Physiology: A Hands-On Approach,” written by Department of Natural Sciences faculty members Melissa Greene, Robin Robison and Lisa Strong. The trio is also currently working on an instructor’s manual, online support and a computerized test bank to accompany the lab manual. “We feel lucky and humbled to be able to do this,” Robison said. The lab manual is self-contained and intended to be highly interactive, with students encouraged throughout the book to draw, label and make lists to help them learn and understand the material. The book is among only a select few lab manuals that Pearson has put out on the market, and is available in three different versions: the main version (no dissection), cat version (cat dissection), and pig version (pig dissection). The three colleagues dreamed about the idea of collaborating on a book together, and when Strong met Pearson editor Serena Beauparlant at a conference, it was the beginning of a years-long adventure. The California-based Beauparlant paid a visit to the Northwest campus, and was highly impressed with the school’s lab facilities. She was also impressed with the way the three instructors wrote when they penned reviews for Pearson publications. When she asked if they wanted to write for Pearson, their answer was a resounding “yes.” Between brainstorming, writing and editing, the textbook took a total of six years to complete and cycled through at least 10 drafts before the final product went to print. Any free time that the three might have had over the last six years was devoted to the manual. “Every bit of work that we did was done at night, on a weekend, on a school holiday, on summer vacation,” Greene said. “Most instructors who write a book teach maybe one class, and we are all teaching full loads.” In addition to the actual writing, the creation of media to accompany the book was also a process. Local photographer Nathan Dixon took the photos for the book, including the cover that features Northwest students, and lab assistant videos were shot on Northwest’s campus. The lab assistant videos are intended to be a major asset to students. “We have a lot of equipment, but some schools don’t,” Strong said. “That video may be all that they have, and they might just watch that in lieu of actually doing the lab.” One of the most important things that the group agreed on was that they wanted their lab manual to be affordable. The book is currently on sale for about $80, and can be used for both Anatomy & Physiology I and Anatomy & Physiology II. Due to the book’s scope of information, look, and accompanying resources, many have been shocked at its price tag. “Typically, for a price like that, you don’t get color,” Strong said. “You get a black and white lab book with really no pictures.” While the book is for sale through Northwest’s campus bookstores, none of its authors will profit from those sales, per school policy. Instead, royalties from the sale of the book at any of Northwest’s campuses will be paid to the Northwest Foundation. There are many people for which the lab manual’s authors are thankful. Dr. Carol Britson, with the University of Mississippi’s Department of Biology, allowed them to photograph anatomy and physiology models that were not available at Northwest. They are also grateful to Dr. Michael Heindl, Northwest president, Dr. Matthew Domas, Northwest’s vice president of Instruction and Dr. Gary Lee Spears, now-retired Northwest president, for their support. The group also expressed their gratitude for the support of their coworkers. Most importantly, they are grateful to their students over the years for helping them become better instructors. Professionally, the three authors have been honored by the lab manual’s reception. They served as the keynote speakers for Vision 2020 at the University of Southern Mississippi in January, and the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society (HAPS) has held a focus group for their book. Greene, Strong and Robison have been Northwest employees for 17, 15 and 29 years, respectively. Greene earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Christian Brothers University and her master’s degree in life science from the University of Maryland. Robison received his associate degree in biology from Northeast Mississippi Community College. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from the University of Mississippi. Strong attended Northwest before transferring to Delta State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in biology education. She earned her master’s degree from the University of Mississippi. “Laboratory Manual for Human Anatomy & Physiology: A Hands-On Approach” is available internationally, and can be purchased through the Northwest bookstore, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and through Pearson’s website at pearson.com. Accompanying online tools, including homework and media, will be ready for use in the fall of 2020.
Looking for a quick, convenient way to earn college credit? Northwest Mississippi Community College’s Mini-Term courses offer the perfect solution. On-campus registration for Northwest’s second spring mini-term session is set for Thursday, March 5, and Friday, March 6. Online registration is scheduled for March 4-6. However, students who have been admitted to the college can register now. Mini-terms are available on the Senatobia campus, DeSoto campus, Oxford campus and online. New students should complete the admissions process prior to registration. To apply online, visit northwestms.edu/apply. Mini-terms were developed for people who wish to take courses over an intensive eight weeks, instead of a traditional semester. Students who want to expedite their degree plan to graduate early or those who need to retake a class may take advantage of these courses. Classes offered during Northwest’s second spring mini-term include Art Appreciation, Business Statistics, English Composition, General Psychology, College Algebra, American History, Public Speaking, Music Appreciation, World Geography, Business Communications and Intro to Sociology. For a complete list of classes to be offered, click here. For more information about mini-terms on the Senatobia campus and online classes, visit the college’s website at northwestms.edu or call the Student Development Center at (662) 562-3320. For more information on classes at the DeSoto Center, call the Student Development Center at (662) 996-1924 or email email@example.com. For the Oxford campus, call (662) 236-2023.
Northwest Mississippi Community College is proudly celebrating the groundbreaking for a sprawling new home for Water Valley’s nonprofit Base Camp Coding Academy (BCCA), which will also provide space to be used by the college. Representatives from Northwest, a founding partner of BCCA, were on hand for the Jan. 23 groundbreaking ceremony at the new site, a former garment factory in the heart of downtown Water Valley. The 64,000-square-foot facility, named Everest by BCCA leaders, will be Mississippi’s first Rural Education and Innovation Hub. According to its website, BCCA is a hands-on, challenging and fun program designed to train students to be software developers in 12 months. Students work with real world technologies to learn the fundamentals of coding, app development and the life leadership skills needed to be successful in their careers and competitive in the job market. For the past several years, the nonprofit has been located in a small space in downtown Water Valley. In the new hub setup, BCCA will allot Northwest an area of just over 18,000-square-feet for classroom and office space. There will also be space allotted for corporate BCCA sponsors and other groups that wish to co-locate in the building. Renovations to the facility, which has been vacant for more than 20 years, are expected to take eight to 10 months. “I work for the county board of supervisors, and we are extremely excited about this project and the distance it has come to be a reality,” said Bob Tyler, director of Yalobusha County Economic Development District. “It is economic development, and the culmination of what will be happening here is jobs.” According to Dr. Matthew Domas, Northwest’s vice president of Instruction, there are several ideas in the works for how to best use the space reserved for the college, including classes for adult education, a healthcare assistant program, workforce training, and potentially other career-tech programs. “Since 2016, we have been part of a very fruitful relationship with Water Valley, Yalobusha County and the region in this partnership,” Domas said. “The opportunity is gigantic for us and for the county and the region. We’re excited about the future.” As a founding partner, Northwest has lent its support to the nonprofit by assisting with curriculum development and funding the salary of a BCCA instructor. Students in the program have also visited Northwest’s Senatobia campus to learn about computer hardware through the college’s Information Systems Technology program. “We can’t say enough about Northwest and their support,” said Glen Evans, BCCA co-founder. “Northwest, let’s face it, could’ve viewed Base Camp as a competitor, but they didn’t. As a matter of fact, Northwest reached out to us.” Kagan Coughlin, BCCA’s other co-founder, echoed Evans’ statement. “Northwest has been incredibly supportive and so easy to work with,” Coughlin said. “In our infancy, they allowed us the strength of their brand to build confidence in the early adopters, the first students who took a leap of faith with us. They have insulated us from the complexities of the accreditation process and allowed us the freedom to build and stress test a different way of achieving the skills required to start a career in technology.” Coughlin specifically thanked Dr. David Campbell, now-retired vice president of Workforce Solutions and Career-Technical Education at Northwest, and Dwayne Casey, district dean of Workforce Solutions and Community Services, for their assistance over the last four years. In the future, Northwest hopes to make BCCA a for-credit Northwest program. “As a board member, I am very excited to see Northwest play a part in something that’s going to be so great for our state,” said Sammy Higdon, Northwest Board of Trustees member and Water Valley resident. “It says a lot about Northwest and the leadership of (Northwest President) Dr. Michael Heindl.” The BCCA program was formed in 2015, with its first class taking place in June of 2016. Any Mississippi student in their senior year of high school can be nominated for the program by a teaching professional. Every student accepted into the program receives a 100 percent scholarship. According to Coughlin, the long-term goal for the new technology hub is to create a facility where students can complete their education and training and meet their future employer all under one roof. “The founders of Base Camp want to create an elevator for any Mississippian to rise through all the social and economic barriers and achieve to their highest potential based on their merits,” Coughlin said. “We hope that other rural towns across America who have the same opportunity barriers see a model that they can duplicate in their communities.” For more information about BCCA, visit basecampcodingacademy.org. For more information about Northwest’s pathways and programs, visit northwestms.edu.
By Teresa McCreery, Jones College Director of Media and Public Relations Mississippi’s 15 community college presidents gathered at the State Capitol last week with data proving the two-year college system is valuable to the state in numerous ways. They commissioned an economic impact report by NPSARC, or the National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center at Mississippi State University, to analyze the more than 100-year-old community college system to determine who is served by the statewide network, the outcomes in relation to the labor market and the estimated overall economic impact on the state. Community college leaders discovered the system is overwhelmingly successful. The report found community colleges have a $3.9 billion impact on the economy, serving more than 200,000 people annually in academic and workforce training. Additionally, the two-year college system is one of the largest employers with 8,100 employees. “Community colleges generate $277 million in state and local taxes,” said Dr. Mary Graham, chair of the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) and president of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. “The state’s investment in your community college has an immediate and short-term payback for all the citizens of Mississippi. Imagine if we invest in Mississippi’s community colleges to the fullest extent? What a difference we can make for all of the citizens of Mississippi.” With more than 52,000 unfilled jobs in Mississippi, community college leaders believe they are the answer to preparing students to fill those highly-skilled, high-paying jobs. In fact, Gov. Tate Reeves announced his plan to invest $75 million into community colleges, of the $100 million he has allocated in his plan to equip Mississippians with the necessary skills for a modern workforce and to make Mississippi a “ready to work” state. “Every class offered at our community colleges is in and of itself, workforce development and workforce training. Jobs or university degrees—it is all opportunity in workforce development,” said Gov. Reeves. “I’m committed to helping our community colleges and more importantly, the institutions and the students they serve, to achieve even more together to better our workforce training, and create good-paying jobs for every Mississippian so they can thrive at home.” That is continued good news to community college leaders with graduation rates at community colleges at an all-time high and 75 percent of graduates staying “home” in Mississippi. The Community College Economic Impact Report also revealed that the value of an Associate of Applied Science degree within a few years of graduation is very appealing to residents, said MACJC Legislative Co-Chair and President of Jones College, Dr. Jesse Smith. “The average salary for graduates with an A.A.S. degree is above $40,000 which is equivalent to most university grads with a bachelor’s degree,” said Smith. “For every person who went through workforce training, after one year, they saw their income increase by $2,300. We (community colleges) trained 100,000 people last year. Think of that economic impact in and of itself.” Some of the benefits the Report revealed didn’t tie directly to the state economy or an individual’s financial success. Dr. Andrea Mayfield, executive director of the Mississippi Community College Board, explained employers greatly benefit from workforce training at community colleges. “There are also some benefits that you don’t hear very often, like lower reliance on public assistance, higher employee retention for companies through workforce training, higher workforce productivity, lower likelihood of being injured on the job due to safety training through workforce services and more. There is a financial impact and a return to the state. All of these things add up and have value. Community colleges truly are the economic powerhouse for the state,” said Mayfield. Despite the data or empirical evidence discussing the return on the investment of community colleges on the state economically, the president of the Mississippi Faculty and Staff Association and East Mississippi Community College English instructor, Marilyn Ford said the data represents far more to her. She sees her students, their dreams, aspirations and hope for a better future. “I don’t see the numbers or percentages when I enter a classroom. I see my kids, my students, who have hopes and dreams for our state and for ourselves. Our two-year colleges cannot continue to function with any degree of efficiency; we can’t help the Mollys, the Lilys, the C. J.s, that I see every day, every week. We need your help to continue our mission to serve our communities, and those communities are comprised of living and breathing, hopeful Mississippians,” said Ford in her appeal to the legislature for more funding. The 15-community college statewide system offers more than 500 locations throughout the state, including military bases and high schools, for residents to earn college credit and non-credit training. Providing accessible education and training is one of the many reasons the Mississippi Community College Impact Report indicates to community college leaders they are on the right track. Maximizing the state’s return on its investment in the community college system is helping the state and its residents with more pathways to financial and personal success. PHOTO: Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (front) speaks on the positive economic impact of the state’s community colleges at the State Capitol Jan. 21 when presidents representing the 15 community colleges held a press conference to announce the release of a new economic impact report. Northwest Mississippi Community College President, Dr. Michael Heindl (first row, second from right) was among the presidents in attendance. Photo by Natalie Davis/CLCC
Gabe Waldrop (center), a sophomore from Senatobia studying mathematics, was named the Senatobia Rotary Club's January Student of the Month for Northwest Mississippi Community College. Waldrop is the son of Kristie Waldrop and Dirk Waldrop. Congratulating Waldrop is (l-r) Dr. Michael Heindl, president of Northwest, Philip and Janice Duncan, grandparents, Kristie Waldrop, mother and Northwest instructor, Jennifer Hale, calculus instructor, and Earle Moore, Rotary representative. (Photo by Natalie Ehrhardt)