Contact: Sasha Steinberg
STARKVILLE, Miss.—In just its first year, Mississippi State’s Complete 2 Compete program has changed lives by helping 108 students earn their college degrees.
For Brooksville native and Starkville resident Kelvin Gibson, the reality of an MSU diploma was a dream 30 years in the making.
“I had been chipping away at getting my degree over the years and I always wanted to go back and finish, but along the way, I got married and was busy working to provide for my wife and our three kids,” said Gibson, who now is in his seventh year as director of transportation for the Starkville Oktibbeha School District. He previously worked for 15 years in transportation at MSU.
“Going through the Complete 2 Compete program expedited the process better than if I had continued chipping away,” he said. “It was like a godsend for me, and I have shared information about the program with as many people as I can because I’m proud of that status of finishing college.”
Created by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning and Mississippi Community College Board, Complete 2 Compete helps adults age 21 and older who have been out of college at least 24 consecutive months to finish a postsecondary degree at a Mississippi institution of higher learning. At MSU, students can either complete a degree in their original major or pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in university studies with up to three emphasis areas.
The program provides a C2C coach, who will review past credits with the student. Adults with credits satisfying requirements for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree will receive the appropriate degree without additional coursework. Those who need additional credits will work with their coach to identify the best pathway for completing a degree program.
Lynda Moore, director of the University Academic Advising Center (UAAC), is one of MSU’s four C2C coaches. Joining her are Kali Dunlap, Center for Distance Education academic outreach coordinator; Kristi Dearing, Academic Advising Center coordinator for MSU-Meridian; and Jaiki Shumpert, UAAC graduate service assistant who is pursuing an MSU master’s degree in public policy and administration.
“I work with a talented group of C2C coaches that made it possible,” Moore said of the program’s success. “The stories and the feedback that we get from the program participants lets us know how much it is impacting their lives.”
With help from Moore and Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Project Coordinator Stephanie Bullock, Gibson reviewed his transcript and determined that he only needed to complete College Algebra to earn his degree. Gibson chose to take the algebra class at East Mississippi Community College’s Mayhew campus and transfer the earned credits back to MSU, where he graduated in December 2017 with a Bachelor of Science degree in university studies.
“I’m glad Gov. Bryant adopted this program for our state,” he said. “Although I have had good jobs over the years, obtaining my degree puts me in a position to have so many more options, like if I decide to get advanced degrees or pursue a second career. This is a very, very big program that I see benefiting a lot of people.”
MSU Provost and Executive Vice President Judy Bonner said, “We’re so proud and excited for all of this year’s graduates who completed their degrees through the Complete 2 Compete program. We look forward to guiding more working adults on their journey to achieving the college degree they started years ago.”
Peter Ryan, MSU associate provost for academic affairs who also is serving as interim dean of the university’s Graduate School, said more than 1,500 inquiries have been submitted to www.msc2c.org, the C2C dashboard managed by the IHL.
“It’s absolutely amazing to hear the touching stories of former student-athletes, septuagenarians, military personnel and others who have come back to MSU to finish their degrees. It gives them a feeling of accomplishment and an avenue to better their communities,” Ryan said. “To see the genuine impact this program is making on peoples’ lives and on their families…that’s powerful.”
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.