JCJC’s GED graduates meet new challenges and goals

Written By: Teresa McCreery
Email Address: teresa.mccreery@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2016-07-28 18:07:08

ELLISVILLE –Sixty-two students completed their High School Equivalency tests (formerly known as GED) at Jones County Junior College and participated in a special graduation ceremony at JCJC’s Whitehead Advanced Technology Center July 18. More than 160 completed the program, which is a 97 percent increase over last year according to newly named Director of Adult Education at JCJC, Caleb Smith.  He also explained this class of students had the choice of three different tests to choose from to earn their high school equivalency diploma.
“Jones County Junior College is the first institution in the state to offer three options for students, the Hi-Set, TASC and GED tests,” said Smith. “We knew changes were coming so we were prepared.”
He also shared another reason for the rise in students earning their high school equivalency diplomas may be attributed to the addition of the Mi-BEST program. This new program is specifically geared for those students who need their High School Equivalency and want job training.
“Mi-BEST or Mississippi Integrated Basic Education Skills Training program is designed for students who do not have a high school diploma or equivalent and want to take classes to earn a college degree or technical skill.  They can work on both through the Mi-BEST program which JCJC began offering this spring,” said Mi-BEST Director, Wendy Evans. “The goal is to graduate and learn as many skills and credentials to help them earn a higher, sustainable wage.”
The first class of Mi-BEST graduates was given blue honor cords to wear during the commencement ceremony as a symbol of their special accomplishment. One of the thirteen Mi-BEST graduates, 38 year-old Stephen Wiggins also earned a scholarship as the highest scoring Jones County resident to continue his education at JCJC.
“Mi-BEST is an awesome program,” said the Houston, Texas native. “It allows people the opportunity to succeed and improve their financial future.  I wouldn’t be in college and working without this opportunity.”
Wiggins said he moved to Ellisville to visit family after being laid off from his job in the oil field. He said his scholarship at JCJC will allow him to get his associates degree in welding, leading to even more job options.
Also earning scholarships for having the overall high score in the class, and scoring the highest amongst Smith County residents, was Dean Menzik of Hot Coffee, who said he is eager to start college.
“I was homeschooled and now I’m going to JCJC and majoring in mechanical engineering.  I hope to work in the car manufacturing industry,” said the 17 year-old. 
Commencement keynote speaker, Jones County Sheriff, Alex Hodge challenged graduates to continue to work hard and succeed.
“It’s your journey and I would ask you this. Embrace your journey and look forward to the future. Understand what you’ve done is just the beginning of great things.  You have received this High School Equivalency Diploma but it is just one step in that process. The road ahead of you, I can assure you it is great. You are 100 percent in control of your destiny,” said Sheriff Hodge. 
JCJC President, Dr. Jesse Smith congratulated the class and shared he was proud of what they have accomplished.  However, he expects more.
“We expect great things from you.  It is not where you started, it’s where you finish that counts and we all want you to do great.  We look forward to many more great moments together in the future.”
JCJC’s GED or High School Equivalency classes are ongoing.  Call 601-477-4164 for more information about how to register for any of the Adult Education programs.   
2016 SUMMER GED GRADUATES *indicates Mi_BEST program graduates
Alicia Bailey, Leakesville
*Amanda Boleware, Ellisville
*Hunter Bradley, Moselle
Marisa Breazeale, Soso
Ryan Brewer, Taylorsville
*Gary Brinkley, Laurel
Timothy Clark, Bay Springs
Samuel Dakota Cobb, Soso
Destiny Cochran, Soso
Lindsey Cochran, Soso
*Joseph Coley, Richton
Jacklyn Duckworth, Collins
Mitchell Eason, Richton
Montana Fortenberry, Raleigh
James Gove, Bassfield
Ashley Gray, Laurel
Hailey Harris, Richton
Haleigh Herrin, Laurel
Andrew Holder, Taylorsville
Amber-Lynn Houghton, Moselle
*Samantha Johnson, Ellisville
*Douglas Johnston, Richton
Jonathan Johnston, Enterprise
Catherine Jones, Moselle
Sarah Judy, McLain
Madeleine Lambert, Laurel
Haleigh Landrum, Moselle
Sydney Leavitt, Bay Springs
Kirkland McKissick, Lucedale
*Jared McNeil, Louin
Codi Melton, Enterprise
Micheala Moss, Laurel
Shabraya Owens, Collins
Jimmy Lewis, Ellisville
Dean Menzik, Taylorsville
Kendall Parker, Petal
Kenneth Parnell, State Line
Tamara Marie  Denham-Pearce, Petal
Maria Pearson, Enterprise
Tobias Perez, Hattiesburg
Peyton Pitts, Ellisville
*Troy Pool, Laurel
Deborah Pounders, Ovett
Mariah Ratliff, Ellisville
John Read, Paulding
Amanda Smith, Quitman
Shanna Smith-Atwood, Sumrall
*Jeremy Stevens, Bay Springs
*Melissa St. John, Ellisville
Ariel Stokley, State Line
Shay Strickland, Leakesville
Bianca Taylor, Laurel
Jodi Trudeau, Ovett
*Manuel Vega, Richton
Desmond Washington, Waynesboro
*Catherine Webb, Ellisville
Kirkland West, Waynesboro
*Stephen Wiggins, Ellisville
Caitlynn Williams, Laurel


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