Innovative program grants ninth graders glimpse into unconventional career paths 

In a 2023 session, Meridian High School ninth grader William Davidson concentrates as he places a tube in a mannequin. Davidson was one of the many MHS and Lauderdale County school students who participated in Experience the O.N.E. camp. MCC has been awarded a grant to offer the camp again this year. 

The chance to explore career paths will become a reality for some Meridian and Lauderdale County ninth graders, thanks to a program offered by Meridian Community College. 

MCC received a $5,000 grant from the Mississippi Community College Board for non-traditional recruitment and retention for its innovative program, Experience the One: Occupations Not Usually Explored by Non-Traditional Students. MCC was one of four community colleges in the state to receive the grant awarded in January.  

Later this spring, the College will host 40 ninth-grade males, allowing them to examine healthcare professions. Meanwhile, 40 female ninth-graders will explore industrial-related programs. The two separate camps will be held on the College campus, and participants will network with male mentors, including hospital and industry professionals for this day-long event.  

During the Experience the O.N.E. Camp – Healthcare Stay, the male students will learn about the College’s programs, including Health Care Assistant, Medical Lab Technology, Dental Hygiene, Health Information Technology, EMS/Paramedic/Aircare, Simulation Lab, and Associate Degree Nursing. During Experience the O.N.E.- Advanced Manufacturing Logistics, the female students will delve into Welding Technology, Construction Technology, Industrial Maintenance, Electrical Technology, Precision Manufacturing, Commercial Truck Driving, and Lineman.  

The ninth graders participating will be selected by their respective schools.  

 “Many high school students lack awareness of available career pathways and the specific skills required for well-paying employment in these industries,” said Lori Smith, dean of Workforce Education at MCC. “So, this grant will give these participating Meridian and Lauderdale County students a chance to learn about what they may or may not want to do with their lives.” 

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