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Northwest Mississippi Community College Unlocks Opportunity

NWCC meets students where they are and helps them pivot to careers they love.

By Livability on October 14, 2022

Northwest Mississippi Community College's surgical tech program
Courtesy of Northwest Mississippi Community College

Not every educational journey follows the same route. Fortunately, Northwest Mississippi Community College has the tools to set students up for success no matter which pathway they pursue. 

NWCC’s Lafayette-Yalobusha Technical Center in Oxford features options for students seeking workforce training, career programming or an academic degree. And with articulation agreements in place, students can complete foundational coursework at a fraction of the cost before transitioning to any of Mississippi’s four-year public universities. 

“With us, you are in a classroom with no more than 30 people with a highly engaged instructor who is skilled in the art and science of teaching,” explains Don Jones, EdD, dean of the Oxford campus. 

He adds NWCC students also enjoy experiencing one of the nation’s most iconic college towns. 

“NWCC Oxford students enjoy the benefits of living in the greatest college town in America while realizing the opportunities and cost savings that only the community college can provide,” he says. 

Jones says the school’s diverse programming opens doors to an array of in-demand careers, from becoming a welder or paralegal to securing a position in health care or information technology. 

He points to NWCC’s surgical tech program as an example of a fast-track to a meaningful career. 

“A month-and-a-half into their training, they have their first assist,” he says of hands-on surgical experience to prepare those in the program. 

He adds NWCC appeals to a student body across a range of ages and circumstances. 

“We can take someone without a high school diploma, which really limits opportunities, and help them earn their high school equivalency and then pursue a path to high-paying careers with just a bit of investment in time and effort,” Jones says. “We can meet any student where they are and help them pivot to a career they love.” 

Set Up for Success 

Stacey SpiehlerThe most important college metric is student outcomes, and many success stories start on NWCC’s Oxford campus.

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Battling homelessness and self-doubt, Stacey Spiehler moved to Oxford for a second shot at school. Writing to statistics instructor Joshua Guest, she shared, “I don’t know if you saw it when I first sat down in your classroom, but I was terrified! Sometimes, all it takes is one teacher to turn fear into triumph. Thanks for being that teacher.”

Today, she is a prestigious Ole Miss Lyceum Scholar. 

Working as a certified nurse assistant, Latoya Booker wanted to be a nurse. After multiple attempts to pass the entrance exam, she was successful in joining the nursing program in 2020.

The same resolve that brought her to NWCC would soon be needed to battle breast cancer. With sheer grit and determination, she balanced treatment and studies to complete both her chemo and coursework, graduating in 2022.

Hoping to be a collegiate coach, Parker Whiteaker had a game plan. A manager for the Ole Miss basketball team, he’s the first to say his focus was on the court instead of the classroom. An academic dismissal led him to NWCC, where he honed his study skills before returning to Ole Miss and graduating.

“Now I’m going to Virginia Commonwealth University for a master’s degree and to be a graduate assistant coach,” Whiteaker says of his successful rebound. 

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