Pearl River’s Career Tech ‘works’

Published 9:37 pm Sunday, September 19, 2021

POPLARVILLE, Miss— Pearl River Community College is seeing growth within the Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs spread across its three campuses. Along with that growth, they have brought on board two new deans to help set a vision for the future. 

CTE programs are ones that specialize in skilled trades, applied sciences, modern technologies, and career preparation. Some of the programs at PRCC have students earning an associate degree while others are shorter certificate programs. 

NEW DEAN FOR POPLARVILLE CAMPUS 
Dr. Amy Townsend was appointed as Dean of Career & Technical Education for Poplarville and Hancock Campuses in July 2021. She brought with her 20 years of experience in higher education, most recently as Associate Vice President of Student Success. 

“While academics and CTE differ in many ways, both areas seek to help students reach their goals and support them with every resource available, and student success has been my focus for the last 10 years,” said Townsend.  

This fall semester saw most of the programs in Poplarville reach full capacity with a few going beyond the normal cap. Now, a primary focus is on the retention of students.  

“Broadly speaking, my initial goals are to build community with my faculty/staff and across campuses; work with CTE leadership across campuses to rebrand our department and create a fresh marketing campaign for our programs; build relationships with our local workforce area partners to understand industry needs; and implement strategies to increase enrollment and graduation rates with our existing and future programs,” she said. “Our new slogan is ‘Career Tech Works,’ and this is being demonstrated by our CTE team as we are already making headway on several of these goals.” 

FROM CTE STUDENT TO DEAN 
In September 2020, Dr. James David Collum assumed the role of Dean for PRCC’s Forrest County Campus. His academic career began as a CTE student in electronics engineering technology. Since joining PRCC as an electronics instructor in 2009, Collum has earned both a Master’s degree in Career and Technical Education and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration. From 2017-2020, Collum served as Career Education Chair. 

“Career and Technical Education has long been a passion of mine, and I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with a fantastic team of instructors and administrators,” said Collum. “Building relationships and bringing all the stakeholders together to meet common goals is how we can help build more robust CTE programs that serve our local communities.  

“I look forward to working with Dr. Townsend to meet these goals and increase opportunities for our students and local businesses.” 

EXPANSION AT FORREST COUNTY CAMPUS 
The Forrest County Campus has added several programs this year including Commercial and Residential Construction, Massage Therapy, Coding Technology, Court Reporting, and an LPN to RN bridge program.  

Additionally, they expanded two medical programs to meet the needs of the local economy. CARES ACT funds allowed for the addition of a new simulation lab for allied health programs. This allows the programs to integrate together in simulated experiences to prepare for the healthcare setting.  

“Prior to implementation of this amazing technology, a student’s first encounter in this setting may have been in a clinical setting with actual patients,” said PRCC Vice President for Forrest County Center, Allied Health and Nursing Dr. Jana Causey. “Now we are able to prepare and train them in a low stake learning environment. We are so thankful to have this opportunity for our students and our honored to have the privilege to educate these up-and-coming professionals.” 

A BRIGHT FUTURE AT HANCOCK CAMPUS 
In the recent past, PRCC’s Hancock Campus has added several new CTE programs and certifications including welding, practical nursing, unmanned systems (aerial and maritime), court reporting, and coding technology.  

Additionally, the Aviation and Aerospace Workforce Academy Hangar project is moving forward with advertisement of bids currently underway. When completed, the campus will see more educational pathways added. 

“This curriculum expansion offers students the opportunity to receive an excellent education bolstered by quality certifications,” said Dr. Jennifer Seal, Vice President for Hancock Campus. “These programs prepare students to secure, not simply jobs, but careers.” 

VARIETY OF CTE PROGRAMS 

Students interested in pursuing a CTE pathway have a wide range of options available. 
Applying for admission to PRCC is the first step. prcc.edu/admissions   
Questions about the programs can be directed to the CTE office of the campus where they will attend. For PRCC’s Forrest County Campus, call 601-554-5539, email jcollum@prcc.edu or visit the FCC on U.S. 49 South. Hancock Campus can be reached at 228-252-7000. The Poplarville Campus can be reached at 601-403-1101.