JCJC offers a second chance for aspiring students

Written By: Teresa Martin and Murray Windham
Email Address: teresa.martin@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2013-05-08 10:49:52

ELLISVILLE - For one young woman, who found herself transplanted in Bay Springs, Jones County Junior College offered a second chance at higher education; a chance Laura Small thought had passed her by when she dropped out of high school.
Laura Small discovered the JCJC Center in Bay Springs could offer her another opportunity at getting the education she had planned on before circumstances threw her off course.  Laura and her husband Andrew moved to Bay Springs from Nashville in May 2011 for a job at Hol-Mac Corporation. A minor detail kept her from earning her high school diploma and the move to Mississippi distracted her from getting the technicality fixed.
“My husband encouraged me to think ahead for our family’s financial future,” said Laura. “A paperwork problem prevented me from receiving my high school diploma and I never got it straightened out. This diploma will help us provide for our children in the future.”
She was surprised to discover all that Jones had to offer. With the downtown center literally around the corner from her home, she knew she could achieve her goal.
“I did not have classes this close to home in Nashville,” she said. “I had thought it would be difficult to work full-time and take classes.”
The Smalls learned of all the opportunities offered by JCJC in Jasper County through her husband’s employer and Jack Bryan, who serves as human resource director at Hol-Mac Corporation in Bay Springs. He knows first-hand the educational opportunities Jones offers to Jasper County citizens because he is married to the Jasper County Center’s Director, Lela Bryan. The Bryan’s discovered Laura’s desire to get her GED had earned her a scholarship for being the Overall High GED Scorer as well as a half- tuition scholarship for her ACT score. 
“The scholarship money certainly made it easier for me to reach my goal and it gave me another reason to push myself to earn another degree,” said Laura.
With a little encouragement, Laura relied on JCJC to help her through the next phase of her educational career by taking classes at the Bay Springs Center. She managed to find time for college by taking traditional classes at the Jasper County Center and by enrolling in online and hybrid courses. The 24 year-old  also works full time as a quality assurance clerk and technician at Hol-mac,  Because of Laura’s success, Jack Bryan makes the Jasper County Learning Center part of his tour of the area when he shows new employees around Bay Springs. He said he wants Hol-Mac employees and their families to be aware of their educational options.
“The learning center is a key element in our training programs, but it is also the prime location for education and information on new business and development,” said Jack. “When we interview individuals from outside the area, one of the first landmarks I emphasize is the JCJC Learning Center. You never know what the educational needs of a new family may be so I make sure they know what is available.”
Even with her multitude of responsibilities, Laura has managed to succeed. Last semester, with seventeen hours of coursework, she earned a 4.0 GPA. She said she appreciates the small classes and extra attention she receives from her instructors. Graduating with an A.A. degree is now within reach. Laura plans to finish at Jones in December and then pursue a bachelor’s degree in accounting.  Although Laura is obviously a determined young woman, she is quick to give credit to JCJC.
“Jones has played a tremendous role in my success,” she said. “I hope other Jasper County residents will take advantage of the educational options available to them. They are never going to find a better opportunity.”
In addition to the facility offering JCJC courses for credit, residents can take advantage of the noncredit classes and workshops offered throughout the year. The center is open Monday-Friday, from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and two computer labs are available for online students. College Algebra and Intermediate Algebra will be offered this summer.  For more information about the JCJC Jasper County Learning Center, call 601-764-9393 or e-mail Lela Bryan at lela.bryan@jcjc.edu.


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