HATTIESBURG, MS. - A former attorney is helping students across Mississippi. Dickie Scruggs spent 6 years in federal custody for a judicial bribery scheme.
During his time behind bars he found a new purpose of helping prisoners obtain their GED.
After prison he started 2nd Chance Mississippi, an organization that helps adult students with their education.
On Thursday Scruggs and his son, Zach Scruggs, spoke to Pearl River Community College students about the importance of finishing their education and how the program helps adult students, who have faced challenges, achieve their goals.
“We are doing some things that is a little bit novel" says Scruggs. The program provides resources to assist students obtain their GED and a skill certification.
The organization partnered with five Mississippi colleges to offer financial assistance to adult students.
Scruggs says, “We have to do this ourselves, there is not a lot of government help with people who dropped out, not a lot of financial support.”
According to 2nd Chances Mississippi, the state ranks last in high school dropouts with over 400,000 adults lacking a high school diploma.
“We are paying the tuition for the work-course courses, we are giving a gas card, about $20 dollars a week for satisfactory attendance, and a large several hundred bonus for completion" says Scruggs.
Dickie and Zach spoke with students who have experienced a lot of hurdles in their lives which prevented them from finishing or going to school.
Minerva Avalos, 53, says she was a parent at a very young age. “I got married really young, got married at 16, had my first kid at 17, my other one at 18."
Another student, Kristin Doba, says the program has helped her achieve her goals. “You know there was a lot going on, some of it kind of personal (in her life)" says Doba.
Both Avalos and Doba are 2nd Chance sponsorships and are headed towards getting a nursing certification.
“It is helping me able to move forward, it is giving me that extra boost that I needed" Doba says. Avalos adds, “Thank the Lord that I have found this program, they are just molding me into a great person.”
The program is currently looking for new ways to partner with organizations and institutions to continue to help adults in Mississippi.
“It sort of demands that we get bigger, there is a demand for this" says Scruggs.
To learn more about 2nd Chance MS you can click here.