POPLARVILLE – Pearl River Community College President William Lewis calls it a “progressive step for our students.”
Ben Scaggs, Gulf of Mexico Program director at Stennis Space Center, says “this relationship with Pearl River Community College is just one step in helping us raise awareness of environmental issues with the Gulf of Mexico. The journey begins here.”
Lewis and Scaggs signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) Monday to increase cooperation between PRCC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Gulf of Mexico Program in areas of mutual interest.
The PRCC Honors Institute and the Gulf of Mexico Program will collaborate to further the missions of both entities. The collaboration will include internships, co_ops and research opportunities for Honors Institute students, lectures by Gulf of Mexico Program staff and community outreach.
The Honors Institute will provide students an enriched and challenging curriculum designed to foster individual scholarship and research, according to Dr. Stephen Black, director of the Honors Institute.
“The partnership will offer tremendous opportunities for our students and the program,” said Black. “The partnership allows for student participation in service learning that benefits the community.
“The Honors Institute will sponsor lectures on ecology and environmental preservation on our campus. This agreement will help make our students environmentally sensitive to the needs of our community. Another benefit is in providing internship possibilities that will benefit our students both intellectually and economically.”
PRCC sophomore Sofia Tent of Carriere worked as a summer intern in the Gulf of Mexico Program office for 10 weeks and received the Student Diversity Intern Program Excellence Award for the EPA’s southern region.
“It was a really great experience,” said Tent. “You learn how to work in a professional field. Not everybody my age gets a chance to do that before they enter the workforce. You learn a lot of skills. When you do this internship, you attend a bunch of seminars, help organize conferences, and help work on projects like the Gulf Restoration Project.
“I would recommend an internship for anybody. You learn a wide variety of skills; not defined to any one thing. You work in such a small office, so everybody helps with everything.”
By partnering with the Honors Institute, the Gulf Program seeks to raise awareness on issues impacting the Gulf of Mexico and the citizens who rely either directly or indirectly on this critical resource.
“Some of these students might find their way into the EPA field,” said Scaggs, “but regardless, the program will give them an awareness of the environmentalism as it relates to the Gulf of Mexico.
Dr. Lewis said the gulf impacts the Mississippi economy and a way of life. He said this partnership creates a new opportunity for learning in PRCC’s education programs.
“The opportunity for our students to participate in this co-op program with Stennis Space Center is remarkable,” said Dr. Lewis. “It is an honor and a privilege for us and it is long-lasting and tremendously meaningful. We have a big vision for our honors program and this is one step in that process.”
POPLARVILLE – Pearl River Community College President William Lewis (seated right) and Ben Scaggs (seated left), Gulf of Mexico Program director at Stennis Space Center, signed a memorandum of understanding Monday to increase cooperation between PRCC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Gulf of Mexico Program. The PRCC Honors Institute and the Gulf of Mexico Program will collaborate to further the missions of both entities. PRCC Honors Institute students attending the signing included from left: Standing – Sofia Tent of Carriere, William Walley, Chastity Polk and Shelby Sattler, all of Poplarville, Trevor Creighton of Carrick Fergus, Northern Ireland, and Kevin Grzenia of Chicago.