Starkville bridges supports veterans at EMCC with grant

Starkville Bridges President Lynn Phillips-Gaines,left, presented East Mississippi Community College Executive Director of College Advancement Marcus Wood with a check for $22,500. The funds will be used to provide scholarships to qualified military veterans enrolled in select career technical programs. EMCC plans to grow the program in the future. (Submitted photo)

Staff Writer

Veterans returning from deployment and wanting to further their education at East Mississippi Community College may have a new opportunity for some financial support thanks to a donation from a= Starkville charity.

The Starkville Bridges Nonprofit donated $22,500 to the college to help establish a scholarship fund for veterans wishing to go through the college’s manufacturing, technology and engineering programs. The scholarship will provide up to $1,500 per semester for veterans enrolled at EMCC who have served on foreign soil. Preference will be given to Oktibbeha County veterans who served in the Middle East.

“Starkville Bridges out of Poverty is a program that we began in 2013, and we were very successful in helping classes graduate and to help them start working their way out of poverty,” said Starkville Bridges President Lynn Phillips-Gaines. “The organization hasn’t been as active, and I received some awards and they came with grants to Starkville Bridges.”

Rather than let the money sit idle, while Starkville Bridges had no classes,Phillips-Gaines decided to put the money in places where it could help, making the EMCC donation and planning to donate more in other areas.

“When they come back and they’ve had their lives disrupted, and they’re trying to go to school and they may not be covered under the GI Bill or have other kinds ofbenefits because they’ve been called up togo, and they may go do nine months, and that can really mess up finances,” Phillips- Gaines said.

Programs available under the scholarship include automation and control, automotive,computer networking, database administration, diesel mechanics, drafting and design, electrical, electro-mechanical,industrial maintenance, mechatronics,network security, precision manufacturing and machining and welding. Most programs are available both as certificate or two-year associate’s degree programs,with the exception of diesel, which is certificate only and all computer programs, which lead to an associate’s degree.

“Many of them come back where they have skills and capabilities, and this will allow them to get the certifications and skills they need to earn a good living,” Phillips- Gaines said.

EMCC Director of College Advancement Marcus Wood said the scholarships would support a deserving group.

“We just appreciate them trying to partner with us and trying to offer that back to people that have served our country,” Wood said.

Wood also said EMCC planned to grow the scholarship over the years in order to serve more veterans.

“ Since yesterday, I think we have two more people that have applied,” Wood said. “I think we have mid 20s that have enrolled or are attending. We hope that this will open up some doors for some folks, especially from the Golden Triangle and Oktibbeha County area especially.”

Veterans interested in the program can contact EMCC Manufacturing, Technology and Engineering Division navigator Greta Miller at 662-243-2659, or Navigator Patricia Corrigan can also be reached at 662-243-2631 or