Discipline as the Key to Success
Gage Johnson is busy. His day starts at 4 in the morning. He gets up to teach CrossFit and Boot Camp classes at his gym, before speeding off to attend his college classes. After class, he goes to work and doesn’t make it home until 9 in the evening. It’s usually around midnight when he finally gets to lie down. And the next day, his routine starts all over again. And he’s only 17.
“I’ve been working out consistently since I was 12,” Johnson said. “My parents always taught me that if you want to get stuff done, you’ve just got to do it and be disciplined with it. I knew if I were lazy, it would never happen.”
Born in Albion, IN, Gage moved around with his family, first to Evansville, IN, then Texas, then to Corinth, MS, at age 15. At age 16, he enrolled in Northeast Mississippi Community College’s Adult Education program. Having been homeschooled since 4th grade, he had developed a knack for self-reliance which served him well in the program.
He also had a knack for achievement had was accepted into the Gateway and MIBEST training programs, earned a platinum score on the Career Readiness Certificate (the highest possible score), and obtained high scores on his high-school-equivalency exam.
“He was always a top-notch student in my class,” Deanne Droke, Gateway Career Specialist and Smart Start Instructor, said. “He is the most respectful and mature 16-year-old I have ever had in my class, or met, for that matter.”
How did he achieve so much?
“I didn’t want to get the minimum,” Gage said of his achievements. “I wanted to do better because I knew I could. Sometimes your school work gets boring, but you know you have to get it done to finish what you want to achieve. If there’s something you don’t want to do [to succeed], you say, ‘Well, I have to do this if I want to achieve my goal.’”
Gage found NEMCC’s program to be a good complement to his intense internal motivation.
“If I didn’t have them [the adult ed staff] I wouldn’t have known what I was supposed to do. Every time I had a question, it got answered. If I asked for help, I got it.”
So, what’s next for Gage?
Gage plans on completing his college degree in Criminal Justice, then pursuing a career in law enforcement, first with the highway patrol, then federal law enforcement. He doesn’t want to stop achieving.
“I think accomplishing your goals is (the definition of) success.” Gage says, “It’s important when you finish a big goal to set another one. You don’t want to just stay in the same spot.”
Some students merely learn. Students such as Gage also teach by setting an inspiring example for others, and by achieving and accomplishing goals, over and over again.
Making a Pathway to Success
Although Reanna was nervous about pursuing higher education, she was focused on obtaining her HSE and making a pathway for herself to pursue career advancement opportunities.
Reanna Stasney had never attended public school before enrolling in the NEMCC Adult Education program, but she had worked on cars. Being new to Northeast Mississippi, Stasney and her mother were extremely excited to hear about the programs offered at NEMCC.
“This was an opportunity that I could not pass up,” said Stasney.
Before completing Smart Start, she was enrolled in the WIOA Gateway Youth Program. Stasney earned essential job skills, the NCRC, resume-writing and communication skills, and much more through the Gateway program.
Because of Stasney’s hard work and dedication, she was recommended to attend the MIBEST program by her instructors, Gateway Career Specialist, and Transitions Specialist. She was accepted into MIBEST, and has taken full advantage of the program’s benefits. She earned her HSE in December 2019 and is now a full-time student at NEMCC where she majors in Auto Mechanics.
Stasney continues to work part-time while attending college to pursue her dream of becoming a mechanic. After earning her Automotive degree, she hopes to get a job working on older model vehicles.
“I am so glad that we moved to Corinth and that I walked into the NEMCC adult ed office in the fall of 2019,” says Stasney. “By enrolling at Northeast, I was able to pursue my education and career.”
Stasney is marrying her fiancé, who is also majoring in Automotive Mechanics, in the fall of 2021. They plan to pursue a career together and open their own business one day. With the dedication she has displayed thus far, working hard and staying focused through numerous obstacles, she is bound for success.
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.
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.”