New College Eager To Help Rebuild South Mississippi

Ken Horne proudly showed off the 30,000 square foot building that was converted into a college.

"This is a pretty large area, and it wraps all the way around. Most of these are medical classrooms through here", said Ken Horne as he walked down the hall.

Horned founded Virginia College in 1983. Since then, the college has added seven campuses. The Biloxi branch on Cedar Lake Road is the newest.

"We look at cities that are maybe under served, the career-college area, and there wasn't much competition here. We thought it'd be an excellent place", said Horne.

The college offers 12 Associate Degree programs, mainly in Allied Health and Business. Most students, like Preston Dunbar, are looking for a different career with better pay. He dreams of becoming a Surgical Tech.

"I am engaged. One of the things I told my fiancee is that I do want to be able to get a house and that, without having to struggle", said Preston Dunbar.

The college wants to do more than just fulfill the student's career dreams. Since Katrina, it also wants to respond to the needs of the South Mississippi community.

"We have been able to come up with a new program in Casino Management. It's a new program for us, and look forward to being able to fulfill that program once the casinos get going again in Biloxi", said Horne.

Next year, the college plans to start a construction program.

"We will be offering a new program in construction, carpentry and electrical and various construction trades. That's a result of what's happened here on the Gulf Coast. All the research has indicated that there will be a lot of jobs in this industry for the next decade", said Horne.

As South Mississippi rebuilds, Horne hopes Virginia College will do its part by sending students into the work-force to help the area recover and grow. Currently, 105 students are enrolled in day and night-time classes. The college can handle up to 1,000 students. Tuition ranges from $255-to-$265 per credit hour.

By: Trang Pham-Bui