Pearl River, William Carey create new pathways to success

Pearl River Community College and William Carey University have created new pathways to success for Hancock County students through the signing of two memorandums of agreement Friday. 

As part of the first agreement with William Carey University, Carey will provide education classes for third and fourth-year students at Pearl River’s Hancock County Center. 

“We work on a daily basis to provide educational opportunities to those we serve,” PRCC President Dr. Adam Breerwood said. “This is a great opportunity for students from Hancock County and just an opportunity to address a problem that has been taking place in the state for many years. The teacher shortage is real and we are excited to be partnering with an outstanding university like William Carey and offering the foundation we can provide to help shore up this issue for our surrounding communities.”

Those participating in the program would remain at PRCC’s campus after completion of their associates degree and finish their bachelor’s degree as WCU students. These students also have the added benefit of receiving a near 50 percent reduction in tuition price. 

“We are proud to have this partnership,” WCU Executive Vice President Dean of Education Dr. Ben Burnett said. “It certainly broadens our base of students that we can reach. Our undergraduate teacher education program at William Carey has grown tremendously; 100 percent in the last two years.  We want to continue to educate as many people as we can in teacher education in part because our schools need a large number of teachers to replace those that are retiring. This gives us one more opportunity to do that.”

Students who complete the program also agree to teach in a Hancock County school system for a minimum of three years.

“This can be such a powerful partnership for everyone,” Superintendent of Hancock County Schools and PRCC board member Allen Dedeaux said. “For our students to get this opportunity to continue their education at an affordable price is going to be a game changer. Hopefully we can continue to get great teachers from a program that put it out there for students to take advantage of. We have a lot of students with other responsibilities and jobs and with the flexibility embedded in this program, I think that’s going to be a benefit to all.”

The two institutions previously made this same agreement for Pearl River’s Poplarville campus in 2018 and now have a successful first class of graduates teaching in Pearl River County school districts. 

William Carey is already beginning the process of advising students currently attending Pearl River with the program officially anticipated to start at the PRCC Hancock Center in the fall of 2021. 

The second memorandum outlines pathways for PRCC academic and technical students to continue their education beyond Pearl River. Technical students interested in continuing their education beyond their Associate in Applied science will be able to apply some if not all of their technical and academic credits toward a Bachelor’s degree at WCU. Students can take advantage of this transfer option immediately. 

Burnett has seen the effects of this transfer option firsthand as his son graduated from both Pearl River’s Unmanned Aerial Program and William Carey with a bachelor’s degree in math and business. 

“It just gives people more options,” Burnett said. “The days are gone of someone graduating with one degree and staying in that job all their life. People don’t just change jobs, they change careers. Because of that we’ve got to give people as many options as we can. That is the beauty of what our community colleges and career technical education can do.”

This draws on the strengths of both institutions; to provide more opportunities in technical education and meet current and future workforce demands. 

Breerwood understands the importance of making students aware of these transfer opportunities and how that can affect their future and the future of others. 

“We’re going to have to continue to market all of our opportunities at our college,” Breerwood said. “There are so many opportunities available and so many routes to success. These two really need to be on the forefront because they not only address the need for people to be able to receive opportunities for outstanding professions, but it also helps us solidify and bring up the younger generation by putting more quality teachers in the classroom.”

Photo LtR: Superintendent of Hancock County Schools and PRCC board member Allen Dedeaux, PRCC President Dr. Adam Breerwood, WCU Executive Vice President Dean of Education Dr. Ben Burnett and Assistant Director of Student Services Dr. Alesia Haynes.

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.

Each community college president is asked to bring two (2) wrapped door prizes, minimum value of $50 each. We will have a station set up at the conference for you to drop off the door prizes.

Each community college is asked to provide name tags for their Board members, administration, and staff attending the conference.