- Among the hundreds of Jones County Junior College graduates recently was 57-year old Jami Taylor of Ellisville. Faced with unemployment when the sewing factory in Laurel and Richton closed where she had worked in accounts payable for 18-years and sewed for 10-years, she didn’t know if she could find another job. She discovered, through the help of family and friends, an opportunity to return to college and get “re-trained.” Having only a 10th grade education and not feeling confident in her educational skills, Taylor was very hesitant about taking college courses.
“I was scared to death at the thought of coming back to school! I have to support myself so I really didn’t have a choice. College wasn’t in my plans but God opened the doors,” said Taylor.
Among some of the “Guardian Angels” at JCJC, as Taylor calls her teachers are Jane Jones, Kimberly Bradshaw and Teresa Robertson. She said they helped her every step of the way. Taylor explained, growing up she never went to the same school for an entire year because her parents constantly moved. In second grade she failed reading and was terrified of taking Algebra.
“I have to have help. I thought college was too big of a goal for me to reach,” shared Taylor. The difference she said was, “Some teachers went above and beyond to help me, tutoring me, wiping my tears, counseling me and even working with me until I fell asleep,” said Taylor. “Jane Jones held my hand and prepared me to take the ACT again. Without these teachers I would not be here today, graduating!”
The upbeat single mother of two adults, Wendy Allen of Petal and Laura Parker of Ellisville, took on the challenge for two years and “did nothing” but study. Her hard work paid off because she graduated with a 3.96 GPA. Last fall, she received an invitation to join the international honor society, Phi Theta Kappa. As an active member, she generously gave her time helping with community and campus activities. Taylor also earned a couple of scholarships through the Non-Traditional Student Association.
“I had no desire or even thought I could do this. Now, I can’t wipe the smile off my face because I can’t believe I graduated with honors! If I can do it, anyone can do it,” said Taylor, who is grateful for the JCJC teachers who made her realize anything is possible.
While the teachers made a huge impact on her, Taylor said the kids also made an impression on her too. Jatari McCann of Laurel is one of the many new friends she gained over her two years who encouraged Taylor, and vice versa.
McCann said, “I just reminded Jami, ‘We got this!’ every time she got stressed.”
Now with a smile on her face, Taylor says proudly, she is a graduate of JCJC and would recommend Jones to anyone because everyone was so helpful. “I never thought I'd graduate from college!”
Her daughter Laura Parker of Ellisville admitted, while preparing for the commencement ceremony, her mother’s success has inspired her to think about getting her college degree.
“I’m extremely proud of my mom. She worked hard with lots of late nights studying. I’m thinking about coming back to school now that my kids are older,” said Parker.
Taylor found a job about three weeks ago at a local transportation company in accounts receivable. She said she’s also hoping she will be able to help her daughter Laura reach her college goals while spending some fun time with her grandkids.
Photos and story written by: Teresa McCreery, JCJC Media & Public Relations Director