Columbus Light & Water donated $20,000 to the East Mississippi Community College Development Foundation to create a scholarship for students associated with the Columbus Municipal School District who enroll in Heavy Civil Construction or Utility Lineworker Technology at EMCC. Present at a ceremonial check presentation were, from left, Columbus Light & Water Board member Jimmy Graham, EMCC President Dr. Scott Alsobrooks, Columbus Mayor Robert Smith, Columbus Municipal School District Superintendent Dr. Cherie Labat, Columbus Light & Water Board member Jabari O. Edwards, Vice Chair of the Columbus Light & Water Board Micheal Tate and EMCC Executive Director of College Advancement & Athletics Marcus Wood.

November 20, 2020

Columbus Light and Water has established a scholarship at East Mississippi Community College for students associated with the Columbus Municipal School District (CMSD) who enroll in one of the noncredit programs of Heavy Civil Construction or Utility Lineworker Technology.

The Columbus Light and Water Diversity Scholarship will be awarded to former students from the CMSD who are first-time college students who attend EMCC full time.

Columbus Light & Water Board member Jabari O. Edwards said the scholarships are part of a greater initiative to increase the company’s commitment to ensuring a diverse workforce.

“We have a need at Columbus Light & Water for great employees and we wanted to make sure we provide employment opportunities to those who are from our city,” Edwards said. “Those who have gone through our school system have a loyalty and commitment to this area and when we train them, they are more likely to stay here.”

Columbus Light and Water employees and their immediate family members who enroll in one of the EMCC programs can also apply for the scholarships.

Recipients must have graduated from high school or earned a high school equivalency diploma. Qualified students enrolled in other EMCC programs of study related to the utility sector may be considered as potential scholarship recipients.

Columbus Municipal School District Superintendent Dr. Cherie Labat said the scholarships dovetail with efforts to provide students a pathway into the workforce.

“We are excited these scholarships will be offered to Columbus High School students,” Labat said. “There is a high demand for these specific employment opportunities and these are in fields our students wouldn’t necessarily be exposed to.”

While there is no guarantee students who complete one of the areas of study will be hired by Columbus Light and Water, the utility donated $20,000 to the EMCC Development Foundation to establish the scholarship as a means to provide them with that opportunity.

On Nov. 19, officials with Columbus Light & Water presented a ceremonial check to EMCC to establish the scholarship fund. Representatives from Columbus Light & Water, EMCC, the Columbus Municipal School District and the City of Columbus attended the event at The Communiversity.

“We are grateful to Columbus Light & Water for establishing this scholarship fund,” EMCC President Dr. Scott Alsobrooks said. “This scholarship program will help support those students from the Columbus Municipal School District in their efforts to come here and enroll in one of these programs. Partnerships like this are invaluable in that they create opportunities for students that benefit them and the community as a whole.”

Columbus High School Principal Craig Chapman said student interest in the scholarships is high.

“They are excited about it,” Chapman said. “They feel like this will be a great opportunity for them and is one that they may have never been afforded before.”

Heavy Civil Construction is a new, 12-week program offered at The Communiversity focused on the fundamentals of heavy equipment operation. Instructors will teach the course using heavy equipment and simulators.

Utility Lineworker Technology is a one-semester program at EMCC’s Scooba campus that teaches theory and principles of basic linework, such as climbing and pole framing, along with the fundamentals of electricity, among other things.

Heavy Civil Construction falls under the umbrella of EMCC’s Workforce and Community Services Division.

“This is a really great opportunity to make students aware that these careers exist and that there are funding streams available to get into those careers,” EMCC Executive Director of The Communiversity and Workforce Development Dr. Courtney Taylor said. “Having an organization invest in their own talent development like this is something we are really excited about. Here, you have an organization reinvesting in their community in a real way.”