RAYMOND – Jennifer May couldn’t wait to get a taste of life on a big college campus, so she left Hinds Community College just one semester short of a two-year degree.
That was more than 25 years ago. Much has changed in her life, but one big thing didn’t ever happen – the degree.
“I dropped out of college after the death of my mother in 1993,” said May, of Raymond, now a mother of two. “I had just transferred instead of staying one more semester to get the degree. My mother grew up in rural south Mississippi and never had the opportunity to go to college. Before she died, she told me to finish my education and never quit.”
The 20-year human resources employee saw an article on a job-search website for the Complete 2 Compete program, launched in Mississippi last year by the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning (known informally as the state College Board). It makes earning a degree a reality for more than 100,000 former students in need of just a little more coursework to complete an associate or bachelor’s degree, mainly by making vital information and resources available.
“I’ve wanted to make a change in employers so I can work closer to my children’s school,” May said. “But, I didn’t have anything more than a high school diploma. I made a call to Hinds and spoke to two very helpful people in the program who helped discover I was only six hours from my associate degree – so there was really no reason not to try.”
On May 11, that one phone call will make its most important ripple yet, as she joins more than 1,000 other students who will earn their credentials from Hinds Community College in three ceremonies at the Muse Center on the Rankin Campus.
May is the first person at the college to complete the necessary credits earn a credential as part of the program since it began last year, said District Dean of Student Advancement Stephanie Hudson. “It’s wonderful to see individuals making that investment in themselves and I’m so excited I can be a part of it.”
She has big plans for herself after having her long-awaited credential in hand. She also wants to motivate others who left college unfinished to, as the program states, complete to compete in the business world.
“Finding other employment opportunities is extremely important to me,” she said. “My next education goal is computer related and will be in the programming or security field.”
Her eldest, son Tanner, plans to attend Hinds next semester. Her newly-earned credential figures to remind him of the importance of finishing school.
“When I was younger, I never thought a degree really mattered but I’ve seen firsthand how some interviewers won’t even look at you without one,” she said.
Partners in the effort include the state’s public universities, the Mississippi Community College Board and the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges. The site is accessible at www.msc2c.org and on the Hinds Community College website at https://www.hindscc.edu/complete-to-compete#gsc.tab=0.