STARKVILLE, Miss.—For a special group of 24 Mississippi State students receiving their college diplomas, the meaning of “it matters how you finish” will ring true at graduation and beyond, thanks to their participation in the Complete 2 Compete statewide initiative.
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 their postsecondary degree from a Mississippi institution of higher learning. Free information on how to complete a college degree through the C2C program, including financial aid, scholarships, discounts and state grants, is available at www.c2cpathfinder.org/c2c.
According to C2C website data, thousands of adult learners may already have enough credits to receive a college degree. The site reveals that in the past 15 years, 32,000 adult Mississippians may have earned enough college credits but were not awarded a postsecondary degree, and 127,000 lack only a few courses to finish a degree.
“The Complete 2 Compete website provides important information that can have life-changing results for many Mississippians,” said Glenn Boyce, Commissioner of Higher Education. “Workforce studies have shown that the vast majority of future jobs will go to those with a postsecondary degree or credential of value beyond high school. I would encourage individuals to access this website as it could be an important first step in helping them achieve a goal that will ultimately lead to a better, higher-paying job and greater job and financial security.”
The C2C 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, is one of MSU’s three C2C coaches. Joining her are Kali Dunlap, Center for Distance Education academic outreach coordinator, and Kristi Dearing, Academic Advising Center coordinator for MSU-Meridian.
Moore said the C2C participants graduating from MSU range in age from mid-30s to 70s. The majority only required readmission to the university, evaluation of transcripts, and application for graduation to obtain a Bachelor of Science in general studies.
“We have two students finishing their original degree programs, two former student athletes and a lot of working individuals,” Moore said.
“Some participants live out of state, but all of their credits are here at Mississippi State,” she continued. “It’s really cool because we have a diverse group, and one thing they have in common is they are receiving their degrees from our university.”
Minnie Powe, 56, a teacher assistant in special education at Meridian High School, is among students who participated in the Thursday [Dec. 7] commencement ceremony at MSU-Meridian. Originally from Kemper County, she graduated from East Mississippi Community College in May 2009 and took night classes at Naval Air Station Meridian before transferring to MSU-Meridian in the fall of that year.
According to MSU-Meridian Academic Adviser Rachel Snell, Powe started out in education, but later switched to social work. She ultimately left MSU-Meridian, just one class shy of earning a bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies.
“I knew I had just one class left, but before I could take it, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in fall 2011,” Powe said, adding that she had been unable to return to school since then.
In February 2017, however, everything changed when Powe got a call from Snell who suggested a meeting to discuss the C2C program. Having been out of school for years, Powe admits she was hesitant at first to re-enter college, but a review of her academic credits with Snell left her at ease.
“It was such a joy to learn that I was going to get my degree without going back to class because all of my credits added up,” she said. “When you look at things that happen in your life, when there is a setback (like cancer for me), it can actually push you forward to something else. I don’t know what plan God has for me, but I’m thinking this was the plan.”
Powe said she already is considering pursuit of a master’s in teaching secondary education next summer or fall.
“My family is so excited for me,” said Powe, whose husband, youngest daughter, sister, cousin and father attended her graduation. “I’m thankful to be getting my degree, and I just want to wait and see what’s going to happen next.”
Moore said the UAAC at MSU has received more than 600 inquiries about the C2C program, and she is optimistic that this number will continue to grow as individuals learn more about the program’s potential impact on their lives.
“We want to do everything we can to make students feel welcome and help them graduate as fast as possible,” she emphasized. “I like to look at the C2C program like a puzzle, where we arrange all of the credits to get the best result for the student.”
Moore said the C2C coaches are especially grateful for continued support of MSU Provost and Executive Vice President Judy Bonner, Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Peter Ryan, the Office of the Registrar and other campus individuals and entities who make the program possible.
“The university as a whole has really embraced this much-needed program. I think that’s why it’s been so successful, and I’m really happy to be a part of it,” Moore said.
For more information about the Complete 2 Compete initiative, visit www.msc2c.org.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.