Shasta Drummond

Shasta Drummon

Changing the Hand I Was Dealt

Written by Shasta Drummond

From a young age, I’ve had the cards stacked against me. My mother was a prostitute, and my father was a drug addict. By the time I was seven years old, I found myself stuck in what seemed like an endless cycle of moving from foster home to foster home. With many factors continually changing in my life, learning in school was exceptionally difficult.

In tenth grade, I moved in with my mother and her boyfriend, which led to abuse, homelessness, and eventually dropping out of school. Years later, I became pregnant and realized that I wanted my life to change. I was tired of being at the mercy of others and wanted to give my daughter the best life I possibly could.

I left an abusive relationship, moved to Mississippi, and began pursuing my education. When I started the Smart Start program at Northeast Mississippi Community College (NEMCC), I was terrified because of my past experiences in school. That changed, though. Mrs. Letisha Belk was such an encouraging teacher—she took away the fear and helped me feel secure and confident about my education.

Once I completed Smart Start, I enrolled in evening classes at NEMCC. I was nervous about starting the program but found support in Mrs. Courtney Casabella. She encouraged me to finish my exams and push through the testing anxiety I had. I am currently working on finishing my final test, which is in math. Mrs. Courtney has been so compassionate and such a cheerleader.

We have worked together virtually, and soon I will complete my testing and will be enrolled in a medical terminology class. This course will help prepare me for the upcoming fall semester, in which I will be a full-time student attending NEMCC’s nursing program.

It has been a long and trying road, but I have succeeded. My education will allow me to give my daughter the life I never had. I cannot express in words how much this opportunity at Northeast has meant to me.

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.

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.

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.”

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