兔子先生

October 21, 2020

MIBEST provides safe place to learn for Rankin student

Diagnosed with autism at age 2, McCollum, 23, of Jackson, earned an Occupational Diploma at Murrah High School but lacked critical credits for a full diploma. 鈥淢y mom thought it…
BY: Danny Barrett Jr.
April Garon
Matthew Alford

High school can be a rough introduction to adulthood, which for Octavius McCollum meant his path to success as a student would get only rougher.

Diagnosed with autism at age 2, McCollum, 23, of Jackson, earned an Occupational Diploma at Murrah High School but lacked critical credits for a full diploma.聽鈥淢y mom thought it was best for me to just get the Occupational Diploma since it was better for people with special needs like me and who aren鈥檛 as advanced as others,鈥 McCollum said.

In 2018, a chance connection between a member of his family鈥檚 church and an instructor in the Adult Basic Education program at the Rankin Campus resulted in where he is today 鈥 more confident in his social skills and more solid in his job skills.

鈥淏ack in high school, I always stayed to myself, plus I was bullied a lot,鈥 he said. 鈥淚鈥檓 more into small groups of people. I鈥檝e been much more comfortable in the MIBEST program.鈥

The program allows adult students to train for a job skill while earning their High School Equivalency certificate at the same time. Students prepared to be job-ready in six months to a year, train in high-demand areas and earn national certifications.聽In 2020, McCollum earned a career certificate in culinary arts and scored well on the Career Readiness Certificate test, a key measuring stick for potential employers who choose to use it. He wants to spread the word of his success to other young adults with special needs who might be uncertain about their future.

鈥淏eing in the program has helped me with social skills,鈥 he said. 鈥淚t usually takes me weeks to get to know people, but here they鈥檙e not going to try to mess with me or bully me.”

鈥淎nd if there鈥檚 something I don鈥檛 understand, my chef is there for me. Cooking relaxes me and gets me comfortable with my classmates.鈥

He鈥檚 put instructors at ease with the way he鈥檚 handled the challenge of college.

鈥淥ctavius is always up for any task 鈥 no matter how little or small 鈥 and he does it with a great attitude,鈥 said Sara Steen, his culinary arts instructor. 鈥淗e also has great teamwork skills when working with others. In the service industry, that鈥檚 a requirement.鈥

All participants in MIBEST have access to support staff, or navigators, whose job it is to help students focus on their studies by advising them on a wide range of life issues 鈥 which often include everything from childcare to transportation to ways to find rental assistance for those in such a situation.

鈥淢y navigator and instructor gave me a rides to class after I was involved in a car accident this semester and my car got messed up,鈥 he said. 鈥淚 liked she was there for me.鈥

His favorite items to cook up in the kitchen are ones that make him happiest.聽鈥淢y favorite things to make are yeast rolls, raspberry sauce, spaghetti and chicken alfredo,鈥 he said.

鈥淎nd if there鈥檚 something I don鈥檛 understand, my chef is there for me.鈥

MIBEST Mississippi Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training

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If you are interested in our MIBEST program, now is the perfect time to enroll. Classes start every eight weeks!