http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=PT+Sans Self-made businesswoman credits Hinds CC for ‘major role’ in life, career

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Self-made businesswoman credits Hinds CC for ‘major role’ in life, career
Posted by
13 July

Self-made businesswoman credits Hinds CC for ‘major role’ in life, career

PORT GIBSON – Born into a family of 10 children in agrarian Lake Providence, La., Jeanette Felton was a breadwinner before she even learned to read at grade level.

Jeanette Felton

She had very little choice, she recalls.

“I missed a lot of classes in school since I was the oldest of 10,” Felton said. “I had to keep the children so my mother could work. A lot of basic things most people would have in school, I didn’t have. And I think I was the only black student in the class. I felt unprepared.”

Felton dropped out of high school in the 10th grade and, by 1973, had left her hometown. She and her husband landed in the Valley Park community in Issaquena County with her husband to work the vast tracts of farmland that blanket the South Delta.

It was the start of a long journey that continued at Hinds’ doorstep as one of the many success stories of the college’s Adult Basic Education program through the years. Now 67 and head of a company that’s among Mississippi’s largest home healthcare businesses, Felton continues to be awestruck by how big a role Hinds played in her personal and professional development.

“Hinds is absolutely the best,” Felton said. “They did things so well and so organized. People were always so encouraging. Hinds played a major role in my life and career.”

A mother of five by age 23, Felton felt a desire to work and make her own money in life despite not having completed her high school education. “After a while, I really wanted to start work,” she said. “But, if you don’t have a GED, you can’t get a job.”

In 1977, she aced her high school equivalency test on the second try, then worked at Rolling Fork Elementary in a variety of positions over the next several years. “I was a bus driver, then a cook,” she said. “The following year, I was able to work as a teacher’s assistant. Doing those jobs, I wasn’t even earning what the teachers were, but I liked the profession.”

Being around educated people made her want that level of achievement that much more, she said.

I knew nothing about college. I was out of my comfort zone. But, I just knew I wanted to do something. Working in the school system, these people had educations. And I wanted to prove myself.

“Elementary education was the early drawing point for me, but coming to Hinds and being exposed to other people taking classes in different things showed me nursing was a field where you could also earn a good living and go further in life.”

With that in mind, Felton went for broke on her education. She quit her jobs and set her sights on her first healthcare credential, which came in 1985 with her associate degree in Practical Nursing at the Vicksburg-Warren Campus and passing a licensure test. “You know the pressure was on, then. Failing was not an option. Back then, it took about three months to get the results back, but when I got them it gave me such a sense of accomplishment.”

The desire to keep helping people and the earnings potential of doing so propelled her to her next degree three years later. “Back then, you really weren’t supposed to be working while going to nursing school, but I did because I had to. And like today, nursing school isn’t easy. In LPN school, we started with a hundred people and graduated with about 17. But, when I finished, I was happy I’d be able to provide better for my children.”

 

In 1998, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Alcorn State University. Shortly thereafter, she began At Home Care, in Port Gibson.

The business has grown mightily in just 20 years – now employing about 450 people in its 11 offices statewide, including the main office along Church Street in Port Gibson. Its caregivers work in 48 Mississippi counties offering in-home care to those dealing with chronic medical conditions that might otherwise result in permanent residency in nursing homes.

“We try to help people in those situations stay at home longer,” she said. “As people age and if they’ve been self-sufficient all their lives, they prefer staying in their own homes. They can do that with the help our service provides, which include running errands for them, cooking for them, assisting them with a bath. It definitely has an important place in these people’s lives.”

Felton credits several instructors and counselors at the Vicksburg campus and in the ADN program for providing just the right helping hand at all the right times. “John Thomas, at the Vicksburg campus, was a counselor there and talking to him was always very encouraging. Becky Tustain taught some of my classes in the RN program, and, of course, Bobbie Anderson was the dean.”

In February, Hinds President Dr. Clyde Muse spoke at this year’s Industry Appreciation Banquet in Claiborne County, organized by the county’s Economic Development District. There, Felton was recognized as an outstanding business leader.

“If you’re an economist and want to look at from here to here,” Muse said, holding his hands apart to demonstrate distance, “Look what we were able to help her do – not only for herself but her family and her community in economic development. That’s the kind of story you love to hear and tell people about.”

Her best advice to any young person in a similar situation to hers, particularly single mothers, is that there’s no substitute for persistence. It’s advice that, nowadays, she and her current husband, the Rev. Columbus Felton, impart to their 12 children, 17 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

“You have to stick to it and not give up,” she said. “You’ve got to lock your mind up around that. You can’t do anything else but keep moving. I’ve never been a lazy person. If you’re lazy, you can forget it. God will allow you to do whatever you want to do.”

 


Note: This story appears in the summer 2018 issue of Hindsight alumni magazine. Find out more information about the Hinds Alumni Association and Foundation scholarships.

13 July, 2018 News more
MIBEST program at Hinds CC sets young lady on path to better life
Posted by
19 March

MIBEST program at Hinds CC sets young lady on path to better life

PEARL – Still waters have always run deep for Jessica Spann, in school and in life.

Now quiet in nature and quick with a smile, Spann, 20, has come a long way in a short time when it comes to completing her education.

Jessica Spann

“I kept telling myself I had to do it and that working fast food and at gas stations wasn’t going to be a career,” Spann said. “I just wasn’t a fan of high school. I was an aggressive person for a while as I tried to figure myself out. And now I’m just so happy.”

In January, Spann, of Brandon, became the first student in the MIBEST program at Hinds Community College to earn her High School Equivalency certificate through the Competency-Based option. The track involves the recognition of industry credentials as well as academic standards. She earned a silver rating on the National Career Readiness Certificate exam, a nationally-recognized career-readiness skills test, and in May will walk across the stage a Hinds graduate with a career certificate in Medical Data Technology.

Spann credits the unique adult education and career-readiness program with honing her skills in more than just the basics.

“I speak up more in class when I’m not understanding something, instead of getting frustrated when I don’t understand something,” she said. “My attention span is better. I’m in accounting now. It’s hard, but I want to keep on learning about it.”

MIBEST is Mississippi’s version of the nationally recognized Integrating Basic Education and Skills Training program, or I-BEST, and originated in Washington state. The program kicked off a few years ago with federal funds and allows adult students to train for a job skill while earning their GED high school equivalency certificate at the same time. In Mississippi, MIBEST was implemented at each state community college in 2016 thanks to a $6 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Students are prepared to be job-ready in six months to a year, train in high-demand areas and earn national certifications.

Jessica Spann

Spann landed in the program thanks to Angie Miles, who works in the program as a navigator, tasked with helping its students find solutions for “life issues” such as transportation, child care and financial aid so they can focus squarely on academics.

Miles knew Spann from when she was homeroom mother for her own daughter’s fifth grade class – a group that also included Jessica. Over the years, she became familiar of a tough family life when it came to completing her education.

Seeing Spann enter her MIBEST orientation classroom was a surprise, Miles said, one that has produced a level of achievement neither thought possible.

“I was so excited to see the beautiful young woman she had grown up to be,” Miles said. “I was even more thrilled that she was wanting to pursue her high school equivalency and take college classes at Hinds Community College.”

Kristi Johnson, an instructor in the program, has watched Spann blossom since last summer into a successful, career-ready student.

“At that time, I met a very distant young lady that put up a lot of walls around her,” Johnson said. “She was quick to get angry, from frustration, because she didn’t believe that she was smart or capable. However, over time, she began to trust those who want the best for her and to believe in herself. Today, she is an excellent student and a confident young woman.”

For more information on the MIBEST program at Hinds Community College Rankin Campus, contact Miles at 601-936-1834 or Johnson at 601-936-1850.

19 March, 2018 News more
Hinds CC MI-BEST program focus of hearing before lawmakers
Posted by
15 February

Hinds CC MI-BEST program focus of hearing before lawmakers

JACKSON – Napoleon Miller spent his childhood as a ward of the state of Mississippi, bouncing from home to home and school to school.

“I grew up in Mississippi’s foster care system,” Miller said. “I decided to stop going to high school and started Job Corps. When I got there, I started hanging out with the wrong people and I got kicked out.”

Napoleon Miller

Napoleon Miller

It’s a story with much happier present than past, however, thanks to an innovative program in Mississippi community colleges that’s creating more stories like Miller’s.

Miller, 35, of Jackson, worked odd jobs cutting yards and in foodservice before pursuing his GED at Hinds Community College. “When I was almost finished with my GED, my navigator told me about the MI-BEST program. This was an opportunity for me to continue working on my GED and start training for a career.”

Miller shared his story of success in the program with state lawmakers Tuesday, Feb. 14 during a hearing on the program before the House Workforce Development Committee.

“I found out that I would make more money and have more opportunity for work if I majored in Industrial Maintenance,” he told the committee, referring to the expansive program at Hinds which combines an array of disciplines to prepare students for modern-day manufacturing equipment. He graduated in December 2016 with a career certificate and is working toward an Associate of Applied Science degree from Hinds.

MI-BEST is Mississippi’s version of the nationally recognized Integrating Basic Education and Skills Training program, or I-BEST, and originated in Washington state. The program kicked off a few years ago with federal funds and allows adult students to train for a job skill while earning their GED high school equivalency certificate at the same time. In Mississippi, MI-BEST was implemented at each state community college back in the fall thanks to a $6 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

David Creel, district Director of Manufacturing Training at Hinds Community College, at left, speaks to the House Workforce Development Committee during a hearing on the MI-BEST program on Feb. 14, 2017. Seated in the foreground is state Rep. Ashley Henley, R-Southaven. From center-right, Dr. Robin Parker, assistant dean of Career/Technical Education at the Raymond Campus; Napoleon Miller, MI-BEST student; and Beverly Trimble, MI-BEST coordinator at the Utica Campus. (Hinds Community College/Cathy Hayden)

David Creel, district director of Manufacturing Training at Hinds Community College, at left, speaks to the House Workforce Development Committee during a hearing on the MI-BEST program on Feb. 14, 2017. Seated in the foreground is state Rep. Ashley Henley, R-Southaven. From center-right, Dr. Robin Parker, assistant dean of Career/Technical Education at the Raymond Campus; Napoleon Miller, a Hinds student who completed the MI-BEST program; and Beverly Trimble, MI-BEST coordinator at the Utica Campus. (Hinds Community College/Cathy Hayden)

Students are prepared to be job-ready in six months to a year, train in high-demand areas and earn national certifications.

At Hinds, program coordinators have worked closely with those in the burgeoning Industrial Maintenance area of study, said David Creel, district director of Manufacturing Training.

“I work with industry to understand what their needs are, with career-tech deans to understand what the program provided them, and with our MI-BEST and Adult Basic Education teams to get those students to get those basic skills, earn credentials, then go to work,” Creel said.

The program’s impact on the state’s workforce is borne out in data on the skill level of working-age adults. Middle-skill jobs, which require training beyond high school but not a four-year degree, account for 58 percent of Mississippi’s jobs. The MI-BEST program being implemented at all 15 community colleges in the state aims to close this skills gap.

“It’s not uncommon in other states to hear employers say they have job offers available but they don’t have workers to fill them,” said Brooke DeRenzis, state network director of Washington, D.C.-based National Skills Coalition. “Our organization is really focused on closing that skill gap.” DeRenzis told the committee Mississippi was one of 18 states with a version of I-BEST or a similar program in place to combat such gaps.

Industries looking into the program’s success rate to fill their job openings are diverse and span markets inside and outside the state, community college officials told committee members.

Napoleon Miller, left, a Hinds Community College student who completed the MI-BEST program, and Hinds Community College President Dr. Clyde Muse. (Hinds Community College/Cathy Hayden)

Napoleon Miller, left, a Hinds Community College student who completed the MI-BEST program, and Hinds Community College President Dr. Clyde Muse. (Hinds Community College/Cathy Hayden)

“We’re fortunate to be able to offer this to our Adult Education students early on,” said Dr. Scott Alsobrooks, vice president for Economic and Community Development at Pearl River Community College. “Our geographical location really helps us, situated in the Pine Belt but we also cater to the New Orleans and Gulf Coast markets. So, we have recruiters that are petro-based, we have them coming from the shipbuilding market, and we also have the metal trades. The selling point to our students is having a lot of career opportunities.”

“We’ve had enormous success with this program,” said Dr. Jesse Smith, president of Jones County Junior College, during the hearing. “The focus of which is to go to the underprepared student who doesn’t have a high school degree, and at the same time they’re getting their high school equivalency, help them earn a workforce credential.”

[tweetable alt=””]MI-BEST program a success in Mississippi[/tweetable]

15 February, 2017 News more