Dayna Alford

Dayna Alford (002)

More than a High School Equivalency Diploma

When Dayna Alford arrived at the Northeast Mississippi Community College (NMCC) in Iuka, she had one goal—earning her High School Equivalency Diploma (HSE). Like many students entering the program, she was forced to leave high school before graduation due to unforeseen circumstances.

She enrolled in the Smart Start to learn essential skills like leadership and teamwork that would prepare her for success in any career she decided to pursue. Although her initial goal was earning an HSE, she learned of other programs, such as the ACT National Career Readiness Certification and MIBEST. These programs prepare people, like Dayna, to secure meaningful careers with family-sustaining pay.

Dayna’s hard work and dedication led to a recommendation for the MIBEST program by her instructors. MIBEST gave Dayna a jumpstart on college and career success by giving her a chance to complete her HSE while enrolling in college as a part-time student.

Dayna earned her HSE in January 2020 and enrolled as a full-time student at NEMCC for the fall of 2020. In five short months, Dayna earned a Smart Start credential, National Career Readiness Credential: Level Gold, and six hours of college credit. She is well on the road to a bright future.

If you want to learn more about Smart Start, HSE, and ACT NCRC programs in your area, email skillup@mccb.edu.

Dustin Hammond

Photo of Dustin Hammond with Certificate

The Power and Payoff of Perseverance

Throughout most of his school years, Dustin Hammond experienced adversity. He fell behind in his courses and was discouraged after a teacher told him that he would never graduate high school.

When navigating the trials of high school became too much for him to handle, Dustin decided to take a different route. He joined the workforce before finishing the ninth-grade. He found a job, got married, and started a family.

While working and raising five children, Dustin learned the value of hard work and dedication. He began teaching his children the value of education and the importance of staying in school. Dusted decided to lead by example, so at 29 years old, he went back to school.

Dustin enrolled in the Adult Education program at Northeast Mississippi Community College’s Corinth campus. He earned a Smart Start credential that demonstrated that he had the necessary skills to be a successful employee in any industry.

Next, he attended High School Equivalency (HSE) courses that provided him with the stimulating and encouraging environment he needed to obtain his degree. It was hard work. He attended classes at night after working long hours at his manufacturing job. But it paid off. In just five months, with his determination and with the encouragement of his teachers, Dustin earned his diploma.

His diploma opened doors. He now had the opportunity to start a college career or apply for a new job. Most importantly, he set an example for his children.

Dustin proved that no matter the trials and adversities a person battles in life, anything is achievable with hard work and perseverance.

Tyler Rasmussen

Photo of Tyler Tasmussen at Program

Taking Steps to Achieve a Goal

Submitted by Carolyn Williams
South Mississippi Community College Adult Education Director

Tyler Rasmussen’s goal is to serve the country by joining the U.S. Armed Forces.

Tyler took the first step toward his goal when he enrolled in the South Mississippi Community College (SMCC) Adult Education Program in October of 2019. Tyler completed the Smart Start program and received a Smart Start Credential in January of 2020—earning a Gold level in applied math, graphic literacy, and workplace documents. In February of 2020, Tyler received a High School Equivalency Diploma.

He now has the credentials he needs to achieve his goal of joining the military.

Ryan Ryals

Image of Ryan Ryals at Program

Hard work and Persistence Leads to Success

Submitted by Carolyn Williams
South Mississippi Community College Adult Education Director

Ryan Ryals enrolled in the South Mississippi Community College (SMCC) Adult Education Program in July of 2019. By October of that year, he completed the Smart Start program and earned a Smart Start Credential. Ryan received a gold level in graphic literacy and silver levels in applied math and workplace documents. Ryan earned a High School Equivalency diploma in February 2020.

 Ryan is an example of how hard work and persistence lead to success.

Megan Brady

Image of Megan Brady

Perseverance Pays Off

Megan Brady knows the value of perseverance.

She left high school early and began working to provide for her family. However, she never gave up her hope of completing her education.

In 2017, Megan decided that it was time to go back to school to complete her High School Equivalency Diploma. Megan met with Charlie Smart, a transition specialist at Northeast Mississippi Community College (NEMCC), to learn about programs that would give her the support she needed to earn a diploma and jumpstart her career.

With the support of the adult education team at NEMCC, Megan completed the program and earned a High School Equivalency Diploma.

During her time at NEMCC, she learned about the Mississippi Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (MIBEST) program that would help her gain the skills she needed to be successful in the workplace. Megan enrolled in MIBEST and took on a full schedule of courses, as well as two online classes while holding down a part-time job as an in-home caregiver. But she was determined to complete the requirements to enroll in the LPN and RN programs at NEMCC.

She spent hours juggling school, family, and work duties, but it paid off. She earned a 4.0 GPA that semester, and she was accepted into both the LPN and RN programs at NEMCC.

Although the COVID-19 outbreak forced all NEMCC to deliver classes online, Megan stayed focus on her career goals. She continued her education and today is on the cusp of graduating with an Associate’s Degree in Nursing.

Megan’s story is proof of the rewards of hard work, perseverance, and the possibility to thrive despite adversity.

Rajesh “Raj” Ghimire

Rajesh Ghimire

Drafting and Designing a Successful Future

Rajesh “Raj” Ghimire was a junior in high school when his educational path took a turn.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Raj left school for a year. When he returned, determined to obtain his diploma, he met with his high school principal and assistant principal to discuss his options. They told him about the adult education program at Northeast Mississippi Community College (NEMCC).

Dedicated to his future, he enrolled at the Booneville campus and began the Smart Start Program in the fall of 2018. After completing Smart Start and earning certifications such as the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), Raj transitioned into the High School Equivalency (HSE) program.

His instructors saw how hardworking, ambitious, and determined he was and encouraged him to go further than an HSE. With the encouragement of his instructors, Raj met with Taylor Johnson, the MIBEST coordinator at NEMCC, to talk about his future.

“He came to us with several educated questions,” according to Taylor. “He knew that he wanted to further his education at NEMCC, but he also knew that he needed to earn his HSE first. We knew that MIBEST was the program for him.”

Raj managed to hold a full-time job while completing the HSE program. He never missed a day of class, maintained a 4.0 GPA, and ultimately obtained his diploma.

Raj decided to major in Drafting and Design and secured an apprenticeship through the Tiger Apprenticeship Program.

“My plan for the future is to receive a degree for Drafting and Design, and because of NEMCC Adult Education and MIBEST, I am on the right path,” Raj says. “I love everything about the MIBEST program. The teachers are so friendly, helpful, and kind. I honestly cannot believe that I have been given this opportunity. I want to continue to work hard and always make my teachers proud of me and my accomplishments.”

Zaily Robinson

Zaily Robinson with Dog

Zaily Robinson has a new outlook for her future, now that she has completed her High School Equivalency Diploma (HSE) at Meridian Community College (MCC). Soon after completing the HSE, she enrolled in the health care program at Meridian Community College (MCC).

Zaily did not always picture herself entering the healthcare field. When she left school early during her senior year at Newton County High School, she thought about joining the military. “I was having trouble in school,” Zaily remembers. “Math was my problem.” 

She learned about the High School Equivalency Program at MCC from her mother, who also completed the program. She says her mother inspired her to enroll in the program. 

For Zaily, the individual attention she received in the adult education program at MCC was the difference-maker. “They understand more of where you’ve been,” she says. “They take time for you, and they are going to try their best to understand you and get you through it.”

Zaily says Rhonda Smith, the adult education transition specialist at MCC, was like another mother. She says Rhonda not only supported her through the program but also told her about a grant that would cover her degree’s cost. 

Now, Zaily is considering pursuing a nursing degree and maybe even a radiology career after finishing her degree at MCC. She credits her new career goals to the support and guidance she received in the adult education program. 

“You can’t build on anything until you have a foundation, and the [High School Equivalency Diploma] is the foundation,” Zaily says. “It’s prepared me for success in every aspect of my life.”

To learn more about the adult education program at Meridian Community College, visit their website.

Catina Carter

Catina Carter

Written by NEMCC New Albany student, Catina Carter

My name is Catina Carter, and I have recently obtained my high school equivalency diploma (HSE) from Northeast Mississippi Community College (NEMCC). It has been a long journey to get to where I am today, but it has been well worth the time and sacrifice. When I was younger, I made myself a promise that once my children finished high school, I would go back and get my diploma. Life kept getting in my way as it often does for most people, and I kept putting it off. One night I was sitting in my living room and looked up at the mantel over the fireplace. I became sad when I realized everyone had a diploma up there but me. That really got to me and lit a fire in my heart. This is the point at which my journey began. It was 2015, and I had gotten laid off from my job. I had no more excuses to keep putting off my education. I started in Mr. Chad Nolan’s very first Smart Start class. After finishing his class, I had to stop coming because I had to have surgery on both of my hands. That slowed me down, but I didn’t let it stop me! In the meantime, I had also become the youth director at my church. I couldn’t face those young men and women every week and tell them how important their education is and not reflect that in my own life. There is a saying that we should lead by example, and that is exactly what I intended to do!

To tell you it was hard is an understatement. I had been out of school for more than 25 years at this point! So many things had changed. There were letters in MATH, and I was used to a typewriter class instead of computer class! I started Mrs. Shanna Cole’s class in the fall of 2015. You just don’t know the level of respect and love I have for this young lady. She would call every time you missed a class! She went out of her way to help me in any way that she could and had a way of explaining things so that I could understand it. When the test-taking process began, I was nervous and had no confidence that I could pass these hard tests, but Mrs. Shanna kept lifting me up, telling me she knew that I could do it. If I didn’t pass a test, she would give me a day or two to pout and worry about it and then it was BACK TO WORK! In 2018 I was down to my last test: Math. On my third try, I failed it by one point. I wanted to quit. I knew I would never be able to pass this test. A diploma just wasn’t in my cards. I turned to my grandmother for some words of encouragement. She told me to hold on to these words: “You will get this because you are determined, so GO UNTIL YOU GET IT!” And that is just what I did!

While working on my HSE Mrs. Shanna recommended me for the Second Chance program. I was accepted, and that program helped me by paying for me to take the CNA classes in Ripley. They paid for my class, my scrubs, even my supplies. I was so grateful and honored they chose me. Without that program, I would have never been able to get that training! I also attended the Career Pathway Training offered at night in New Albany. I completed both my Medical Office and Business Office pathway courses. Mrs. Shanna also recommended me for the MI-BEST program. This program allowed me to take English and Psychology at NEMCC while working on my HSE. I am very proud today that I finished that program with a 3.5 GPA! I had been working so hard for four years and had obtained so many certifications but still had not achieved my main goal, my High School Equivalency diploma. Finally, on April 3, 2019, I passed my final HiSet test in Math and became an official High School graduate!

I feel ready for anything life has to offer me because of the things I received while going to Northeast. I have a High School Equivalency diploma, certifications in Business Office Assisting, Medical Terminology, Keyboarding, Medical Business Practices, Business Communications, Computer Applications, State Approved Nurse Aid Training, Professional Development, and Medical Office Procedures, college credit, and a newfound confidence in my abilities. I will forever be grateful to Northeast Mississippi Community College and the people who work there, for giving me the opportunity for a bright and limitless future! Praise God!

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