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Returning Hinds CC alum an inspiration for career changers

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Robert Cain. Photo courtesy Hinds CC.

Earning a living while feeding a passion on the side worked out just fine for Robert Cain until parts of his world began to change.

Cain, 62, a Port Gibson native and Vicksburg resident, worked in retail sales in metro Jackson more than 40 years after earning a distribution and marketing degree from Hinds Community College in 1977.

“My specialty was working as a retail sales consultant, using a lot of the skills Hinds gave me,” Cain said. “I enjoyed working with the people. I’m absolutely at my best when I’m working around people.”

His interest in personal fitness and martial arts training held steady through the years, as he obtained a black belt in Okinawa-style karate and a brown belt in the Japanese version. In October 2018, he returned to Hinds to pursue a degree in what had been merely a hobby.

Robert Cain preparing for his new career. Photo courtesy Hinds CC

“I was starting to get fatigued driving back and forth from Vicksburg to Pearl five days a week, plus my daughter’s school was moved to another location, which added to my commute,” he said. “My wife does social work and one of us had to make a career change.

“I’ve liked to work out and keep in shape since I was 17, So, I went to part-time at work and looked into programs at Hinds that would add to my efforts to become a certified personal trainer. I want to appeal to the man who’s over 40 who wakes up one day and he says, ‘I’m badly out of shape.’”

For Cain, taking courses in first aid and sociology at the Vicksburg-Warren campus toward a credential in health and physical education meant being in a classroom for the first time in 40 years. Often, he wears a business suit to class, which makes him stand out before he shares his story with people.

“Going back to college is a very unique experience,” he said. “The world has changed. Kids today don’t talk—they text!”

His instructors and campus staff see his return to school a learning experience for them, too.

“Robert has been an inspiration to me as an administrator because he has so much experience in leadership,” said Dr. Elmira Ratliff, dean for the Vicksburg-Warren Campus. “And he doesn’t mind stopping by my office to chat and share nuggets of wisdom when he has down time between classes.”

Gwendolyn Appleby, his sociology instructor last semester, touts Cain as an inspiration for other older students who are thinking about a return to school.

“He told me it was a little intimidating for him, but after the first month, Robert became a star student,” Appleby said. “He enjoyed interacting with his classmates, and his work ethic was impeccable.”

This semester, Cain passed his certification online with the National Academy of Sports Medicine and is on track to earn his newest Hinds credential in 2020. Both figure to bolster his budding second career.

“The physical education degree from Hinds will raise my credentials to a whole new level,” he said. “To have that degree just broadens your knowledge of things.

“My time at Hinds both times I’ve come here has been incredible, right from the first time I came on campus and met everyone,” he said. “Everyone has made me feel very welcome.”

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Alcorn student leader works to advance other students in STEM fields

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Alexandria Williams (photo courtesy ASU)

Last year, Alcorn State University was granted its official charter for the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers Chapter. This year, the organization appointed its first student leader.

Alexandria Williams, a junior computer science major from Detroit, Michigan, was named the first Miss NOBCChE for the Alcorn chapter. The organization assists aspiring STEM students in gathering knowledge about the field and becoming STEM professionals.

Solidifying her leadership role in the chapter is significant for Williams because she feels the chapter can achieve excellence. She’s happy to play a critical role in the chapter’s legacy on campus.

“It’s an incredible honor to be crowned Alcorn’s first Miss NOBCChE,” Williams said. “Alcorn’s chapter is destined for greatness, so this is history in the making. To be a part of this history feels amazing.”

Sonia Eley, NOBCChE adviser and chemistry professor, is confident in Williams’ ability to represent the chapter.

“Alexandria possesses the qualities it takes to lead this chapter,” Eley said. “Her intelligence, rapport with her peers and love for STEM make her the ideal selection for the position. I have faith that she will be an excellent leader whose exceptional decision-making skills would move this chapter forward.”

In her decision making, Williams relies on faith to steer her into her purpose. She’s confident that accepting her leadership role is the right path for her.

“I try to align everything I do with God’s purpose in my life,” she said. “I joined NOBCChE last school year and served as the social media and graphic design chairman. Through my experience, I learned more about my field of study, gained community service hours and made new friends. I had such an amazing experience that when I was presented with the opportunity to represent the organization, I couldn’t resist accepting the position.”

The chapter showcases the talent of Alcorn’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors. Williams applauds NOBCChE for providing a platform for aspiring Black STEM professionals.

“I believe that Alcorn’s NOBCChE chapter is important because the world needs to recognize the power of talented Black STEM students,” she said. “We are capable of being great in this space, and we possess the ability to change the STEM profession’s landscape. NOBCChE is one of many platforms that showcases our talent and worth.”

Ever-changing technological advances inspired Williams to become a computer science major. Watching these advancements fuel her desire to be one of the future’s leading engineers.

“We witness technological advances often. The world is transitioning to a new technological age,” she said. “We have autonomous vehicles, face detection in the palm of our hands and scientists are equipped to reverse paralysis. During this change, the world is searching for people to develop new technologies and introduce them to the world. Those professionals are engineers, and for some time, I’ve been dreaming about becoming one.”

Encouraging younger students to pursue STEM programs and careers also excites Williams. Last summer in her hometown, she created Coder Gals, a four-week program that introduces girls in grades three through five to STEM and coding concepts. Williams prepares a curriculum for the students, hosts workshops, trains mentors and distributes newsletters to parents. The lack of women engineers was Williams’ motivation for starting the initiative.

“I started a chapter in my community because of the lack of female representation in STEM fields. We strive to spark young girls’ interest in coding through fun, creative, and collaborative projects and create the foundation for their future success. We instill in them that they can succeed in any male-dominated field that they choose.”

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USACE publishes mainline levees Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

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Friday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published its Final Supplement II to the 1976 Final Environmental Impact Statement, Mississippi River and Tributaries Project, Mississippi River Mainline Levees in the Federal Register.

Through evaluation of information and data obtained from levee inspections, seepage analyses, research, studies and engineering assessments, the USACE Memphis, Vicksburg and New Orleans districts collectively identified 143 additional work items along various reaches of the Mississippi River mainline levees  feature of the MR&T project. These work items are remedial measures to control seepage and/or raise and stabilize deficient sections of the existing levees and floodwalls to maintain the structural integrity and stability of the MRL system.

The 143 work items constitute the proposed action for this Final SEIS II and are located across portions of seven states: Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. This document is intended to supplement and, as necessary, augment the 1976 FEIS and 1998 Supplemental EIS to achieve USACE’s primary goals for the MR&T:

  • providing flood risk reduction from the Project Design Flood; and
  • being an environmentally sustainable project.

The Final SEIS II is available online at the USACE Vicksburg District website. The 30-day review period begins Friday, Nov. 13, and ends Monday, Dec. 14.

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Crime

VPD reports a string of burglaries from Tuesday through Thursday

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The Vicksburg Police Department reports that several burglaries occurred this week from Tuesday through Thursday.

On Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 5:58 a.m. officers responded to 1601 North Frontage Road in reference to a residential burglary. The victim advised he discovered the lock on his trailer was broken and multiple power tools valued at $5,000 were missing.

Tuesday at 11 p.m., officers responded to Parts Supply, 2406 South Frontage Road, in reference to an auto burglary. The victim stated he saw a white male wearing a camo jacket run from the cab of his truck carrying his lunch box while the driver was making a delivery to the store.

On Wednesday, Nov. 11, a victim came to the police department at 11:59 a.m. to report an auto burglary. The theft occurred on either Bridge Street or Evans Alley, sometime between Nov. 2 and Nov. 3. A Taurus 9-mm handgun was taken from the unlocked vehicle.

On Thursday, Nov. 12, at 8:41 a.m. a victim came to the police department to report an auto burglary. A black, white and lime green Scott bicycle was stolen off the back of the victim’s 2017 Nissan Altima. The bicycle is valued at around $3,000.

Also on Thursday, officers responded to Tri-State Tires, 2209 Washington St., at 10:19 a.m. for a business burglary. The complainant stated one of the U-Haul transports valued at $9,000 was stolen Tuesday, Nov. 10.

If you have information on any of these incidents, please call the Vicksburg Police Department at 601-636-2511.

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