Mississippi Power Company Heritage Award scholarship

Published 7:00 am Thursday, July 26, 2018

Mississippi Power Company recently distributed its 2018 Heritage Award for ethnic minority and female students interested in studying in a career and technical program.

Mississippi Power Company Public Relations and Communications representative Danielle E. Kimbrough, said the scholarships will pay for student’s tuition for two years at an accredited community college. This includes tuition up to $1,500 per semester for the duration of the program.

“Mississippi Power introduced the Heritage Scholarship program in 2016 as a part of its commitment to building a strong, diverse workforce in the state. The program was developed to provide career and technical education opportunities to minority high school seniors entering programs such as instrumentation and controls, process operations and specialized lineman training,” Mississippi Power press release states.

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Eight students were chosen as recipients – including Justin Jones, who recently graduated from Pearl River Central High School. Jones will be attending Pearl River Community College to pursue a degree in instrumentation and control, Kimbrough said.

Two other recipients, Kimari Sledge from Hattiesburg and Braxton Thomas from Hattiesburg, will also be attending PRCC in the fall, Kimbrough said. Sledge will be pursuing a degree in instrumentation and control while Thomas will be taking the lineman training course.

Kimbrough said Mississippi Power’s goal for the scholarship is to award hardworking minority students in their coverage area to promote education and workforce development. Students were chosen based on their academic achievements and community service projects, she said. For consideration, students had to live within the Mississippi Power service area, had to graduate high school with a 2.5 GPA, had to have some involvement in community service and were required to submit an essay about why they were interested in pursuing a career in the energy field.

“We want to invest in them so someday maybe they’ll come back to the area and work with a company like ours,” Kimbrough said.

PRCC Vice President of Workforce, Career and Technical Education, Scott Alsobrooks said there is a significant shortage of skilled laborers in Mississippi. Going into the career and technical field helps students get a very highly sought after degree with a high earning potential after graduation with very little debt, he said.

“There’s such a huge demand for these types of jobs. You can go to work in oil rigs, refineries, you can do pipeline work, drilling work – there are just so many good career opportunities. There are so many different directions you can go with this type of degree,” Alsobrooks said.

Alsobrooks said PRCC is the only community college in the state that has seen a consistent increase in enrollment for three years in a row. Once more students realize the benefit of going into these types of fields, the demand for these classes will increase even more, he said.

For students wanting to get into a career and technical field, Alsobrooks recommended applying to the college and putting their paperwork in soon – as these classes fill up quickly.

“I would like to thank Mississippi Power for their support and for recognizing this need. Companies like theirs are the ones who will ultimately be hiring these people. We greatly appreciate partnerships such as the one with Mississippi Power,” Alsobrooks said.

According to an article by the American Institutes for Research, career and technical education programs are important, as they lower unemployment and train students for specialized workforce careers.

“These programs provide students with opportunities to acquire the competencies required in today’s workplace—such as critical thinking, collaboration, problem solving, innovation, teamwork, and communication—and to learn about different careers by experiencing work and workplaces. CTE is no longer just about teaching students a narrow set of skills sufficient for entry-level jobs; it is about preparing students for careers.” the article states.