New initiative could help South MS students earn college degrees

New initiative could help South MS students earn college degrees

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Public universities and colleges across Mississippi announced an initiative Thursday aimed at encouraging people to finish what they started by getting a degree.

In South Mississippi, an estimated 40,000 adults don't have a college degree. This initiative will target those who've dreamed of going back to college and guide them on the path to graduation.

Charles Davis is back in a college classroom after 23 years. He enrolled at Southeastern Louisiana University in 1992, but only attended school for a year and a half.

"I just went to get enough credit in order for me to enter the Army," said Davis.

Now, working full-time as a technician for a cable company, Davis is hitting the books again. He is in his first year at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, hoping to fulfill his dream of being a radiologist.

"No company, no hospital, no doctor will train you to do that without having a degree," said Davis.

The new Complete 2 Compete Initiative targets people like Davis, those who've started college but never finished.

"I just think it's so exciting, and it's going to be more impactful. When you have universities and community colleges working together, you're going to have success, because that means there's something for everyone," said Dr. Carmen Walters, MGCCC Enrollment Management Vice-President.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College already reaches out to former students, offering services to encourage them to come back and complete their degrees.

"We are texting students as we get their information or emailing them, 'Hey, did you know that you have this many credits,'" said Walters.

Educators believe this campaign will boost the state's economy.

"If we can have more than 60 percent of our constituency with degrees, then companies will look at Mississippi favorably and say, 'This is a place that I can put my company there,'" said Walters.

Davis thinks it can also help Mississippi students compete in today's job market.

"I'm kind of glad they're doing it now. Now you need a degree. We have a lot of older people, like myself, even some that are older, why should I go and do it? Why not? Do it," said Davis.

The statewide partners behind this initiative will identify target groups, implement adult learning services, and work to reengage adult students to help them complete their degrees. They are also in the process of setting up a website to announce the details of the program and how students can participate.

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