JAG-Mississippi Students Timmy Kimber and Desiree Coleman and Executive Director Ramona Williams were interviewed on the Gallo Show on Super Talk Mississippi by Paul Gallo on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. Paul asked Ms. Williams to tell everyone what was happening on Thursday, March 26, at the Jackson Convention Complex.
Ms. Williams reminded the listeners that Jobs for Mississippi Graduates provides a statewide dropout prevention and career readiness program with sites in fifty-two (52) schools serving 1,600 students from Panola County down to George County in Mississippi. More than 1,500 young people will participate in career readiness competitive events like interviewing skills, resume writing, public speaking, financial literacy, math skills, and more.
The luncheon speaker was Governor Phil Bryant who also serves as Chairman of the national organization of Jobs for America’s Graduates.
In the competitive events, students were provided opportunities to apply their classroom training to real-life scenarios or tests to demonstrate their knowledge and/or skill to
take appropriate actions as an employee. Judges from the community assigned points based on student performance. Rating sheets were added and 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards were determined. At the Awards Session, event winners were announced and some winners also received scholarships for preparing themselves in the classroom.
Ms. Williams introduced Timmy Kimber, a 9th grader, who was identified as a candidate for the JAG program at his school because he was someone who was about ready to drop out.
Mr. Gallo asked Timmy, does that describe you in the 9th grade?
Timmy responded, “When I became a part of Jobs for Mississippi Graduates, I was one of those students who I knew that was intelligent but it was the thing that no one seemed to recognize and I thought it would be a waste of time. When I got into JMG, I found my vision and I realized the things that I was capable of doing.”
“Timmy, how did JMG do that?” asked Mr. Gallo. Timmy continued, “Unlike most programs, JMG was a program that didn’t require a 3.0 GPA to become a part of the organization so I felt it was welcoming me. JMG trains their Specialists how to relate to young people. My JMG Specialist was very open-minded and related to all the students. It wasn’t like I was student she thought will never make it.”
Timmy is currently attending Jackson State University and is progressing toward his vision of what he wants to do in life. When Mr. Gallo asked if he could have made it to college without JMG, Timmy responded emphatically, “I don’t think I could have made it!”
Mr. Gallo turned to Desiree Coleman to share her story because he had heard that she was a “problem child” to her mom and dad.
Desiree responded, “Exactly, and for me this was the right program—it was a great experience! I was able to learn leadership skills, how to create a resume, employability skills, I learned, it helped me be the young lady that I am today.”
“It is my understanding that you are enrolled in Holmes Community College,” shared Mr. Gallo.
“Ms. Williams, it appears the success rate for JMG is incredible!”
“It is!” exclaimed Ms. Williams. She continued, “Last year, we had a graduation rate of 94% for seniors in our program. We seek to engage the young people, mentor them and let them know we care about their future. And, try and impute academic success in them as well as how to be successful in life.”
Mr. Gallo questioned, “Are there some that don’t go into college but go to a community college and enter the workforce?”
“Yes, they go directly into the workforce or go to one of our community colleges and, then, go into the workforce”, explained Ms. Williams.
Mr. Gallo shared, “I know that the Governor has been working on it for a long time and I think it’s so important. Our transition now is changing as far as higher education. We are beginning to make it acceptable to say, look, maybe I don’t need four years of college, certainly not if I am going to be a lawyer or CPA or something specifically but maybe I love plumbing, I love carpentry, I love construction, I love engineering and there is so much you can learn from a good community college. How do you determine a student’s interest?”
Ms. Williams explained, “We assess what students’ likes are, what they would like to do in life, what their strengths are, what careers they should consider, and it doesn’t necessarily involve going to a four-year university so they can easily get a welding certificate or go to Ingles or Nissan as well as the healthcare industry and make a great living. It is about the exposure and making the students aware that these careers are available. And that’s one of our vital roles at Jobs for Mississippi Graduates.”
Mr. Gallo asked Desiree and Timmy what their plans will be after college.
Desiree responded, “When I graduate from Holmes, I want to be an Occupational Therapist.”
Timmy shared, “I want to be an Anesthesiologist.”
“Those are some lofty goals now that really happen because of this program,” said Mr. Gallo.
Ms. Williams reinforced, “Exposure and awareness.”
“What do you need for the budget, Ramona, and everything I know you need to expand and there are other parts of the state that you need to be in?” said Mr. Gallo.
“Yes, we are seeking to expand into a 100 schools within the next school year and we are seeking funding from the State, from the legislature to be able to make that possible. We cover the salaries of our teachers, field trips where we take these students to various employers and industries, we take them on college tours and we need that funding to be able to provide that exposure to the young people,” expressed Ms. Williams.
For more information, www.jmgms.org
Biographical information for Timmy and DeSaree follows:
Timmy Kimber is a 19-year old from the small but wealthy county and healthy city of Belzoni, MS. He is an honor graduate of Humphreys County High School and a dedicated alumnus of Jobs for Mississippi Graduates, where he currently serves as an Intern in the central office. Kimber is currently pursing his education at Jackson State University majoring in Speech Communications. He is a member of MADRAMA Performance Troupe and Lambda Pi Nu Fraternity Inc. Kimber has been blessed with a God given talent to speak with things to capture the heart and mind. He is deeply rooted in Proverbs 18:16 which states, “A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men.” Timmy believes he is the total sum of his life experiences.
DeSaree Coleman is a proud alumnus of Jobs for Mississippi Graduates where she served as president for 2 years. She is also a 2014 graduate of Callaway High School. Miss Coleman is currently enrolled at Holmes Community College pursuing a Business Administration degree. She worked as a Beauty Advisor at Ulta Beauty and now she is working as an intern in Jobs for MS Graduates central office. Miss DeSaree Coleman is a powerful testimony for the JMG organization with a bright future ahead of her.