Education

Community Colleges offer assistance to boost Mississippi workforce

Mississippi has a network of 15 community colleges that are dedicated to providing skilled, intelligent, and hard working individuals for the states workforce. They’re doing that by making it easier for people to go to school and afford to pay for it. 

The Mississippi Community College Board’s own Executive Director once took advantage of the opportunities provided to her by the college network.

Dr. Andrea Mayfield was working as a janitor for a medical office, emptying trash and cleaning toilets, when she decided to go back to school. She was able to partake in SNAP benefits to further her education.

“As a returning adult I didn’t have the resources, and I needed some assistance too. I was a recipient of SNAP benefits. Back in the day people called them food stamps,” said Dr. Mayfield.

Since then Mayfield spent the majority of her career at East Mississippi Community College, then became president of Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa in July 2014. She has since returned to Mississippi to oversee the board.

“The community college now is literally the catalyst for workforce training. As we know, you have to have a strong workforce in order to attract new business and industry, for business and industry to expand, and more importantly for profitability,” said Mayfield.

Mayfield said the goal is to bring awareness to parents and students about the opportunities associated with getting a degree at a community college. For many the cost of school is enough to deter them from seeking a degree. Good news, the same program, SNAP, that helped Dr. Mayfield is still available today.

Located on each community college campus is an office for SNAP benefits. They will direct you to a website, and provide any other information you need to begin your application. But what if you don’t know about SNAP before you began school?

“Together we are able to reverse refer people. For example if our financial aid office finds that someone is in need and may not be receiving SNAP we can reverse refer them back to the Department of Human Service.”

Mayfield said most parents and students don’t realize that they can finish in two years and be making $75,000 to $100,000.

These schools offer the traditional classroom setting on campus, as well as online courses that have become more and more popular for the nontraditional working student. Enrollment online offers students the ability to work from home, travel, and save more money.

Virtual enrollment does not require a student to do any on campus testing, at a particular college. While on campus testing is mandatory, you can do that from anywhere.

“The way we have it set up is unique, you can literally test from any college in the state,” said Mayfield.

Currently, the State Workforce Investment Board and Regional Economic Development Teams are working with the Department of Employment Security to determine what is needed and where when it comes to the workforce. Mayfield said, once the need is found they will align programs to meet them.

“We maintain that industry partnership so that we always know when changes are occurring so that we can tweak these programs and align with the changes because what we want is for our students to be able to know and do what the industry needs,” said Mayfield.

To find out more about Mississippi’s Community Colleges and financial assistance visit HERE. 

 

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