JACKSON, Miss. — Pearl River Community College was well represented at the Mississippi Faculty Association of Community and Junior Colleges 2020 Capitol Day on Wednesday. Community colleges from across the state gathered together to highlight the importance of community college education and advocate for continued support from legislators.
Pearl River Department Chair/Instructor of Electronics Engineering Technology and Mississippi Faculty Association Vice President James David Collum and Pearl River alumnus Michael Evans addressed the crowd of educators and legislators. They each detailed how the community college system has impacted their lives and impressed upon audience members how imperative actively investing in this system is for the future of Mississippi.
“I’m 21 years old with a two-year technical degree using skills that I enjoy at a job that I enjoy and I’m making more money than I ever thought I’d see at this age and I have zero college debt,” Evans said. “I am grateful to my instructors who have made it their life goal to empower students with the tools that they need to succeed.”
Evans spent three years at the PRCC Forrest County Center during which time he took one year of honors academics and two years of Electronics coursework. Evans now works as an electrical mechanic at Kohler.
“I believe that community college is the number one way for young men and women to climb out of poverty in the state of Mississippi,” Evans said. “Whether a student wants to get a two-year technical degree or get a two-year academic degree and transfer to a university, every dollar we invest in that student’s education is a dollar well spent.”
Collum reflected on recent conversations with educators and administrators about how budgets should be prioritized, whether funding should go to university transfer options or the career and technical field.
“I finally spoke up and said ‘yes, we should prioritize education, all education,’” Collum said. “This is not a debate we should be satisfied to have. We should be funded to a level that this is not something that we discuss anymore. Community colleges are asked to do jobs that are as varied as the students we serve and to all the things we are asked we say yes.
“With only seven percent of the educational budget being set aside for community colleges, I believe it is not only fiscally responsible to invest in community colleges, I believe it is fiscally irresponsible not to.”
MFACJC President Marilyn Ford spoke about the high expectations for community college educators and how community colleges positively impact generations of students.
Holmes Community College President Dr. Jim Haffey explored the rich history of community colleges in Mississippi and the growth the system has seen in recent years.
“We are proud to have grown into the strongest community college system in the nation since our beginnings nearly 100 years ago,” Haffey said.
Pearl River Community College offers equal education and employment opportunities. The College does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, national origin, veteran status, or disability. For inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies or to request accommodations, special assistance, or alternate format publication please contact Tonia M. Seal, Director of Admissions and Records/ ADA/Civil Rights Coordinator at P.O. Box 5559, Poplarville, MS 39470 or 601-403-1060 or Maghan James, Assistant Vice President of Student Services/Title IX Coordinator at P.O. Box 5805, Poplarville, MS 39470 or 601-403-1132.