That’s what my boss, Colleen Hartfield, called a group of 18 folks in a new program at Hinds Community College called MI-BEST.
These people don’t have high school diplomas. But they have a strong desire to learn a job skill. They’re enrolled in a pilot project through the end of June in either culinary arts, welding or drafting and design at the same time they’re working on their reading and math skills toward earning a GED.
At a day-long meeting on the Raymond Campus, they participated in Challenge Course exercises at Eagle Ridge Conference Center….
And they heard tips from Gay Saxon, director of Training at Eagle Ridge, on appropriate luncheon etiquette.
While they were at lunch, our president Dr. Clyde Muse took some time to sit down at talk to them about how revolutionary this project is.
One of the students was impressed he was there. “I’m so glad to see him,” she said.
Dr. Muse told them as he looked around the room that he wondered: “What is this special life circumstance in this case? What is the story here?”
Then he shared the story of his own humble beginnings as a boy who milked cows at 4 a.m. to pay for community college.
“The thing I’m so proud of you for is you’re seizing the opportunity. You can prepare yourself to take advantage of opportunities that come your way by being successful in this program,” he said.
Working at a community college I get the chance to hear all kinds of stories from people about why they are here. My favorite event to cover each year is graduation. I admit, I gravitate to the people who look as if they are nontraditional students – you know, those with gray hair or a wrinkle or two.
They’re usually the ones who have the great stories to tell about why they are here, often saying one reason is to be a role model for their children.
At the beginning of the meeting that day, a colleague and I shared stories about how our graduate programs were going – all that reading and reading we have to do. But underneath it all we’re both appreciative of the opportunity to further our education.
I’ll bet, however, our appreciation didn’t match that of the 18 people who are part of our new MI-BEST program.
Trailblazers, every one of them.