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Deaf student starts new career thanks to Hinds CC, KLLM Driving Academy
Posted by
08 September

Deaf student starts new career thanks to Hinds CC, KLLM Driving Academy

RICHLAND – Byron Davis decided last year it was time for a change of life and career after years spent in low-paying jobs.

Byron Davis, center, completed the KLLM Driving Academy program this past summer and is now a lead solo driver with the company. With him are Charli Vos, an interpreter with the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, left, and Loretta Sutton, an interpreter and coordinator in Disability Support Services with Hinds Community College, right. (Hinds Community College/April Garon)

Byron Davis, center, completed the KLLM Driving Academy program this past summer and is now a lead solo driver with the company. With him are Charli Vos, an interpreter with the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, left, and Loretta Sutton, an interpreter and coordinator in Disability Support Services with Hinds Community College, right. (Hinds Community College/April Garon)

What made his decision different from most was a challenge he’d been overcoming for years – but with the help of a partnership between Hinds Community College and KLLM Driving Academy, he motored right past it and plans to keep on trucking.

Davis, 38, Southaven native, lost his hearing during childhood as a result of an illness. Since high school, he’d worked a series of jobs in shipping and receiving and in auto body work. “I wasn’t happy doing it,” Davis said through an interpreter. “The pay wasn’t enough for me and wasn’t enough of a challenge.”

After a friend recommended the KLLM Driving Academy at Hinds, Davis sought and qualified for a waiver from the state allowing him to apply for a commercial driver’s license. With the help of two interpreters provided by the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, he completed the program this past summer and is now employed as a lead solo driver with the Richland-based transport company.

In the program, housed at KLLM’s facility in Richland, Davis learned the ins and outs of properly driving a big rig – upshifting, downshifting, proper lane changes and turning, space management and correct mirror usage. The curriculum also trains people to safely transport hazardous materials. Overall, it’s geared to help new drivers achieve the industry’s top priority, which is safety.

“You really have to focus with it, and you can’t play around,” he said. “I feel good about myself for having passed the course.”

Hinds’ partnership with KLLM to train truck drivers at the company’s Richland headquarters and boost their ranks began in fall 2012. KLLM handles the training. Hinds handles the coursework. The facility itself opened in March 2014.

Byron Davis completed the KLLM Driving Academy program this past summer and is now a lead solo driver with the company. (Hinds Community College/April Garon)

Byron Davis completed the KLLM Driving Academy program this past summer and is now a lead solo driver with the company. (Hinds Community College/April Garon)

“Byron was determined to provide for his family and fulfill his dream of becoming a truck driver,” said Josh Denson, manager of the KLLM Driving Academy and former disability examiner with MDRS. “He was able to accomplish all of these things through the opportunity provided by Hinds Community College and KLLM Transport Services.”

Davis credited the company and the Disability Support Services department at Hinds for taking care of the little things – such as the company paying for his bus ticket to town, helping to learn his schedule, and other things to “help get settled in”, he said.

“It’s been quite the partnership between Hinds, the Department of Rehabilitation and KLLM,” said Loretta Sutton, interpreter and coordinator in the college’s program that assists people with various physical challenges achieve their educational goals. “The three of us have been working together to make sure he’s very successful in this program.”

That success figures to have him on a fast track to a solid new career.

“My instructors have had a positive effect on me,” he said. “Some of them didn’t know anything about working with deaf students, but one of my instructors rode with me and learned some basic sign language so he can communicate with me.

The next major mile marker for Davis is obvious.

“I’d like to become an independent driver and own my own truck,” he said.

[tweetable alt=””]Deaf student starts new career thanks to #Hinds CC, KLLM Driving Academy [/tweetable]

 

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Hinds CC receives gift to train, boost ranks of women truckers
Posted by
04 September

Hinds CC receives gift to train, boost ranks of women truckers

Andre’a Gaston had faced challenges before enrolling in truck driver school – mainly being a mother to two daughters and a son.

Driving a manual shift transmission turned out to be a close second in that category, but now she’s certified and bona fide to take on the road.

“At first, I thought my age would prevent me from doing it and the fact I’m a female. I had not driven a stick shift vehicle in my life, and I’m 44!,” Gaston said Thursday during a ceremony in which Hinds Community College received $220,000 from the Walmart Foundation to support the training of more women and underserved populations who enroll in the driver’s academy at KLLM Transport Services.

Andre'a Gaston, who earned her commercial driver's license (CDL) at the KLLM Driving Academy, speaks Thursday during a ceremony to present Hinds with a $220,000 check from the Walmart Foundation to train more women truck drivers.

Andre’a Gaston, who earned her commercial driver’s license (CDL) at the KLLM Driving Academy, speaks Thursday during a ceremony to present Hinds with a $220,000 check from the Walmart Foundation to train more women truck drivers.

“My entire family is proud of me for taking this big step and doing what no one thought I could do,” Gaskin said.

The Grenada native credited instructors at the firm’s driving academy for helping her secure her commercial driver’s license last week.

“I had my days where I had trouble. But they’re determined. They stick with you and make sure you get it. Anyone who wants this job, it can be done. You’ll have the backing for it from every single teacher and instructor.”

The money, part of a larger $100 million commitment by the retailer to bolster workforce training, education and career pathways for retail workers nationwide, will support training women and underserved populations who enroll in the driver’s academy at KLLM Transport Services. The money comes to Hinds via the Jackson-based Foundation for the Mid South.

Dr. Clyde Muse, from left, Tice White, of the Walmart Foundation, Dick Hall, Transportation Commissioner for the Central District and Ivye Allen, president of the Foundation for the Mid South, hold a ceremonial check signifying a $220,000 gift to Hinds from the Walmart Foundation to train more women truck drivers.

Dr. Clyde Muse, from left, Tice White, of the Walmart Foundation, Dick Hall, Transportation Commissioner for the Central District and Ivye Allen, president of the Foundation for the Mid South, hold a ceremonial check Thursday signifying a $220,000 gift to Hinds from the Walmart Foundation to train more women truck drivers.

“Walmart supported us in this plan to expand opportunities to all folks, but gave us a challenge to do it women,” said Ivye Allen, president of Foundation for the Mid South. “I’m glad today to see females represented here in this profession.”

Diane Smith, one of Gaston’s driving instructors, could attest to her own life-changing achievement. She began driving trucks nearly 20 years ago and ran her own business.

“At first, I didn’t want to be a truck driver because of what people would think of me,” Smith said. “But I did it to provide for my family.”

She started her career at KLLM and was eager to return to KLLM for the opportunity to help other women earn their CDL and become financially secure.

Diane Smith, at podium, speaks at a ceremony Thursday to present Hinds with a $220,000 check from the Walmart Foundation to train more women truck drivers. Smith has been a licensed truck driver for nearly 20 years. At left is Andre’a Gaston, who earned her commercial driver’s license last week.

 

Hinds’ partnership with KLLM to train truck drivers at the company’s Richland headquarters and boost their ranks began in fall 2012. KLLM handles the training. Hinds handles the coursework. The facility itself opened in March 2014.

“Basically, one of our goals at the company is to make sure we have a person in all 3,000-plus trucks we currently have,” said KLLM vice president Kirk Blankenship.

Hinds President Dr. Clyde Muse said the funds enhance the partnership’s initial goal of helping train the state’s overall workforce and taps into a growing segment of the student population at Hinds.

“Now, with the Walmart Foundation and the Foundation for the Mid South, we have a secondary goal, and that is to increase the number of female drivers,” Muse said. “Our student body now consists of 65 percent females, so there’s great fertile ground out there to find female students.”

A mix of grants and other investments from Walmart and its philanthropic foundation are part of the Opportunity Initiative, rolled out earlier this year. It will spread the funds over five years to help retail workers across the industry advance careers and achieve greater economic mobility.

“The big focus is on women’s empowerment,” said Tice White, of the Walmart Foundation. “So to hear this provides support to women in retail and transportation sectors and is so important to our community.”

Kirk Blankenship, vice president of KLLM Transport Services, from left, Eric Red, director of the KLLM Driving Academy, Hinds President Dr. Clyde Muse, Tice White, of the Walmart Foundation, and Dick Hall, Transportation Commissioner for the Central District, Kirk Blankenship, vice president of KLLM Transport Services, from left, -----, director of the KLLM Driving Academy, Hinds President Dr. Clyde Muse, Tice White, of the Walmart Foundation, and Dick Hall, Transportation Commissioner for the Central District, Kirk Blankenship, vice president of KLLM Transport Services, from left, -----, director of the KLLM Driving Academy, Hinds President Dr. Clyde Muse, Tice White, of the Walmart Foundation, and Dick Hall, Transportation Commissioner for the Central District, Kirk Blankenship, vice president of KLLM Transport Services, from left, -----, director of the KLLM Driving Academy, Hinds President Dr. Clyde Muse, Tice White, of the Walmart Foundation, and Dick Hall, Transportation Commissioner for the Central District,

Kirk Blankenship, vice president of KLLM Transport Services, from left, Kirk Blankenship, vice president of KLLM Transport Services, Hinds President Dr. Clyde Muse, Tice White, of the Walmart Foundation, Dick Hall, Transportation Commissioner for the Central District, Donald Slabach, grants coordinator at Hinds, and Dr. Chad Stocks, vice president for Workforce Development and Coordination of Career/Technical Education, associate dean of Career and Technical Education for the Raymond Campus, hold a ceremonial check Thursday signifying a $220,000 gift to Hinds from the Walmart Foundation to train more women truck drivers.

The grant further enhances the standing of Mississippi’s transportation system, said Dick Hall, transportation commissioner for the state’s central district.

“The training of a driver student like this that will use our transportation system certainly gets my attention,” Hall said.

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Hinds CC to receive $250K gift from Walmart Foundation
Posted by
01 September

Hinds CC to receive $250K gift from Walmart Foundation

Hinds Community College and KLLM Transport Services are boosting their training capabilities, thanks to a $250,000 gift from the Walmart Foundation that will help diversify the ranks of the trucking industry.

The money, part of a larger $100 million commitment by the retailer to bolster workforce training, education and career pathways for retail workers nationwide, will support training women and underserved populations who enroll in the driver’s academy at KLLM Transport Services. The money comes to Hinds via the Foundation for the Mid South.

The participating groups will join together to discuss the project in a news conference at 9 a.m. Thursday in the Board Room at Fountain Hall on the Raymond Campus. Media representatives are invited and are requested to rsvp at cchayden@hindscc.edu by 8:30 a.m. Thursday. Fountain Hall is located at the intersection of East Main Street and Hinds Boulevard on the Raymond Campus.

Dick Hall, Transportation Commissioner for the state’s Central District, headlines the list of those who will speak at the presentation. Also taking the podium are Hinds President Dr. Clyde Muse, Ivye Allen, president of Foundation for the Mid South, Tice White, of the Walmart Foundation and Kirk Blankenship, vice president of KLLM.

Hinds Community College and KLLM Transport Services have partnered together since fall 2012 to boost the number of truck drivers in Mississippi. KLLM handles the training. Hinds handles the coursework. The program is housed at the KLLM Driving Academy in Richland, which opened as a new facility in March 2014.

A mix of grants and other investments from Walmart and its philanthropic foundation are part of the Opportunity Initiative, which will spread the funds over five years to help retail workers across the industry advance careers and achieve greater economic mobility.

 

 

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Hinds CC, KLLM Transport Services receive new grant
Posted by
01 April

Hinds CC, KLLM Transport Services receive new grant

A new grant for partners Hinds Community College and KLLM Transport Services in Richland will allow a 25 percent focus on recruiting and training female truck drivers. The $220,000 grant received by the Foundation for the Mid South to promote “Transportation, Distribution and Logistics” (TDL) will fund an extension of a current truck driving partnership between Hinds and KLLM.

The award from Jobs for the Future for the “Delivering the TDL Workforce” initiative grants can be used for tuition, outreach and training support. Its purpose is to increase access to middle-skill jobs for 300 people over the next two years, particularly traditionally underrepresented populations

Dr. Chad Stocks, Hinds Community College associate vice president for workforce training and associate dean for career and technical education

Dr. Chad Stocks, Hinds Community College associate vice president for workforce training and associate dean for career and technical education

“This grant will help Hinds find prospective students, especially without a high school diploma, who can benefit from the training and learn valuable skills so they can work in the transportation industry. It allows us to focus particularly, but not exclusively, on women,” said Dr. Chad Stocks, associate vice president for workforce training and associate dean for career and technical education.

The new grant will help provide for Hazmat training to deal with hazardous materials. It also provides Adult Basic Education for those who need it.

The Hinds-KLLM partnership has already had great success. Since fall 2012 when it began, 324 students have graduated and entered employment, which is a 73 percent success rate. Students in the program receive a scholarship covering tuition and commit to working for KLLM for at least one year.

For more information, click here.

Kirk Blankenship, left, KLLM vice president of Driver Resources and Logistics, and Eric Redd, director of the KLLM Driving Academy, which is a partnership between Hinds Community College and KLLM Transport Services

Kirk Blankenship, left, KLLM vice president of Driver Resources and Logistics, and Eric Redd, director of the KLLM Driving Academy, which is a partnership between Hinds Community College and KLLM Transport Services

Kirk Blankenship, KLLM vice president of Driver Resources and Logistics, said there is a need for drivers in general but female drivers are an underrepresented population in particular.

“We’ve got a huge driver shortage over the next few years in the hundreds of thousands. Women historically haven’t been a high percentage in trucking. It’s just another area that needs to be reached out to by this industry,’ he said. “The grant will help with our advertising and filling that niche we have for women.”

Funded by a $3 million grant from the Walmart Foundation to JFF, the project will strengthen and expand training in 10 regions for careers in automotive repair and maintenance, commercial truck driving, logistics and warehouse management and others.

The grant is part of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation’s $100 million commitment over five years to support programs that help increase the economic mobility for entry level workers to advance their careers, in order to promote a stronger workforce.

Hinds Community College and KLLM Transport Services are the only Mississippi awardees out of the recipients. The others are located in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Iowa, North Carolina, New Jersey, California Washington and Florida.

The projects will connect underrepresented populations to the industry, with each site committing to serve at least 25 percent female participants.

Workers will earn industry-recognized credentials such as a Commercial Driver’s License and Global Logistics Associate certificate, and many will also earn college credits that lead toward Associate’s degrees in TDL.

“Jobs for the Future is excited to be a part of Walmart’s Opportunity Initiative, which is creating economic mobility for the U.S. workforce. Our work with 10 regional labor markets will help prepare workers for family-supporting jobs in the TDL sector,” said Maria Flynn, senior vice president at JFF.  “These investments will promote diversity in the TDL workforce by designing recruitment and retention strategies to help more women move into these in-demand jobs that are critical to our nation’s infrastructure.”

 

As Mississippi’s largest community college, Hinds Community College is a comprehensive institution offering quality, affordable educational opportunities with more than 170 academic, career and technical programs. With six locations in central Mississippi, Hinds enrolled nearly 12,000 credit students in fall 2014. To learn more, visit www.hindscc.edu or call 1.800.HindsCC.

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