USM program helps young adults with disabilities prepare for the workforce


HATTIESBURG, Miss. - 11 interns graduated from Southern Miss’ Institute for Disability Studies Project Search program Monday.

Project Search is a 10-month employment-training program designed to prepare young adults with disabilities for the workforce.

“In our state, we’re still spreading awareness of what people with disabilities can accomplish and we’ve made a lot of strides there. But, there’s still a lot of employers and people in the community that don’t necessarily see the abilities and aren’t aware of everything they can accomplish. So this program is to show that and to help young people get their first job,” said Project Search director, Jerry Alliston.

Half of the interns are from Hattiesburg High School and the others are from the community.

Throughout the year, the interns did three internships that were each 10-12 weeks long.

“The most thing I learned was being at my internships because those were my favorite things I liked to be at the most and learned new skills. I learned how to use the cash register at The Pod, and I also did office work for my other two internships,” said graduating intern, Raheem Davis.

Six interns already have jobs, including Jason Dean.

“I recently just came back from six months completing this program and now I’m back three months later graduating. So, it’s basically a good process to be put in. I’m currently working at Wendy’s right here on Hardy Street as position, dishwasher,” said Dean.

Two interns will start their jobs in August. The other three are still searching for employment.

Next year’s Project Search will begin in August.

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