Release date: Feb. 1, 2017
MAYHEW — East Mississippi Community College student Wakeena Spain, 23, was finding it difficult to juggle the demands of motherhood and college after the birth of her daughter, Justice Taylor, five months ago.
Spain, who is seven classes short of obtaining her associate’s degree in Administrative Office Technology at EMCC, decided to delay completion of the program to pursue another educational path.
Spain entered the MI-BEST program at EMCC and will soon complete all of the requirements needed for her to apply for work at a local manufacturing plant.
“I decided I would like to go ahead and find a job and then I can come back later and complete my degree,” Spain said.
The MI-BEST (Mississippi’s Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training) program, allows students to earn college credits or credentials while they work on their GED. Unlike most students in the MI-BEST program, Spain is a high school graduate, having earned her diploma from New Hope High School in 2012.
“We do accept a small number of people into the program who already have their high school diploma,” Workforce Services Student Navigator Robert Parker said. “We look at them very closely. Since we only select a few who have their diploma, we want to make sure we feel like they are going to succeed.”
Students in the MI-BEST Program have several different educational pathways to choose from. Spain chose the Manufacturing Skills Certification program. Other pathways include Business & Office Technology, Commercial Truck Driving, Carpentry, Certified Nursing Assistant, a noncredit Workforce manufacturing class, or a one-semester Utility Lineman course and a Health Care Assistant course.
Spain has completed her Manufacturing Skills Certification and WorkKeys Assessment. The only component she has left to complete is an Employability Skills Instruction course that includes topics such as resume writing, computer literacy, teamwork, time management, communication and customer service.
A new program at EMCC called Career Ready 101 will allow Spain to complete the Employability Skills Instruction course online.
“The fact that I can do it online will help out a lot because I don’t have a babysitter right now,” Spain said.
Meanwhile, Spain is also working with Workforce Services Information Specialist Shannon Collier.
“As she completes each step in the MI-BEST program, we put that on her profile, kind of like her resume,” Collier said. “We will track her growth and try to help her find employment.”
Spain said she did not know what to expect when she entered the MI-BEST Program.
“It turned out to be a really good program,” Spain said. “Everybody I have come in contact with has been very helpful. They have all kept in contact and want me to keep them updated on how things are going.”
For more information about the MI-BEST program, call (662) 243-1985.