BJCC Graduation

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 24, 2008

BJCC speaker: ‘take stairs’ to build future

By John Howell Sr.

It was remarks by Batesville Job Corps Center (BJCC) graduate and Batesville resident Shreeka Flowers that got Minact, Inc. founder B. T. Jones off track.

Jones, who serves as chief executive officer of the corporation which operates eight Job Corps centers, including the Batesville center, in six states, was speaker at Friday’s graduation — the summer career transition graduation.

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Flowers, the center’s student government association president, told fellow graduates and guests about how she entered BJCC after she had completed 12 grades in school but had been unable to pass her state proficiency requirements.

Through Job Corps, she was able to complete her high school diploma, earn proficiency in the center’s office skills program and entrance into Northwest Mississippi Community College, she said.

Flowers’ remarks about her second chance prompted Jones to recall his early life in Marshall County, he said, growing up in straitened circumstances with no electricity or indoor plumbing and “all of the things associated with farming.”

Jones would eventually graduate from Memphis’ Hamilton High School, he said, but when money was unavailable for college, the mother of his best friend unexpectedly offered to halve with Jones the college money she had saved for her own son’s. Though he turned the offer down, the confidence that it showed she had in him continues to influence his life, he said.

Returning to his prepared remarks, Jones expressed his appreciation to Batesville.

“Rarely have I had the opportunity to thank the Batesville communityfor the welcome we have had as a company and a Job Corps center for the past 27 years,” Jones said. The community “put out the red carpet for us and has left it there ever since,” he added.

Jones thanked present and past community leaders, including the late Governor Cliff Finch, the late F. J. “Jelly” Autrey and the late Hunt Howell for their early work to help locate and establish the center in Batesville.

Jones also recognized Batesville Alderman Rufus Manley and BJCC Community Relations Council President Percy Bruce, among others.

“Realize there’s not an elevator to success,” Jones told graduates. “You have to take the stairs; you’re going to have to take the stairs one step at a time,” he added.

“Getting a job will be as much about your attitude as your GED and technical skills,” the Minact CEO continued. He urged the graduates to “be a good citizen in your community,” and to “keep upgrading your skills.”

BJCC Computer Systems Analyst Quinlan Williams presided over the program which included two selections by the BJCC choir.

SGA Alternate President Patrick Hanks welcomed guests and Manager of Finance Quibilah Quarles introduced special guests, and Center Director Dean Kindle introduced Jones and was joined by Academic Manager Teresa Walton as he handed out diplomas to 44 graduates.