EMCC adult education program graduates 29

East Mississippi Community College's Adult Education Launch Pad graduated 29 students Thursday. (Photo by Charlie Benton, SDN)

Staff Writer

After many months of hard work, a group of students will move on to bigger and better things.

East Mississippi Community College’s Launch Pad graduated 29 students from its high school equivalency programs. The student came from across the Golden Triangle and took various lengths of time to complete the course. Some students also shared their own stories. The speaker for the Thursday night graduation was Mississippi Community College Board Director of Resource Development Kenneth Wheatley.

“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” said Bertha Cooper of Starkville, who graduated at the ceremony. “Ever since I left high school, I’ve been putting it off for about 14 years. I’d start, then I’d stop, and I’d start, then I’d stop.”

She said she enrolled in the EMCC program in 2016, after moving to Starkville, and finally completed her HiSet. She passed the math section of the test on Dec. 10.

“It felt great,” Cooper said. “It took so much for me to hold back tears when I got it. I am very happy, and I thank God for it.”

Cooper plans to attend classes at EMCC, and is also going through commercial driver’s license training as part of the Mississippi Integrated Basic Skills Training (MI-BEST) program, which allows high school equivalency students to pursue career and technical programs while working toward an adult education credential.

“When I passed it looked like I had won the lottery, because I was jumping for joy,” Cooper said.

She called her experience in the EMCC adult education program “awesome.”

“It’s very rewarding to see them grow, see them transform, to see them sometimes believe they can’t do it, to actually achieving it,” said EMCC Director of Adult Education O’Neil Wright.

Wright also invited anyone considering earning their high school equivalency to visit the Launch Pad at EMCC. The program can be contacted at 662-243-1985.

In his speech to the graduates, Wheatley encouraged students to live their lives with honesty. He also lauded the benefits of MI-BEST, which he helps oversee. Additionally, he recognized the families of graduates for their support.

“As a young African-American man raised by his great-grandmother, I know all too well about the importance of having your family stand beside you, helping you achieve your goals,” Wheatley said.

He also acknowledged the difference in every student’s journey to the Launch Pad.

“Regardless of where you are, graduates, you have accomplished something great, that many skeptics argued couldn’t be done, ” Wheatley said.