RAYMOND – Walter Blevins is used to lifting things with the help of heavy machinery.
On Friday, he credited Hinds Community College with lifting a huge weight off his shoulders by helping him restart his education – especially this past spring semester, as classes were interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The administration at Hinds has shown constant dedication and cooperation during the pandemic,” said Blevins, 35, of Jackson, a single father of two who’d plied his skills as a forklift operator for years before returning to school. This past semester, he earned an Associate in Applied Science degree in Electromechanical Technology and was on the Dean’s List. “Everyone has shown a considerable amount of affection during these uncomfortable times.”
Blevins was among 619 students who received at least one credential from the college during drive-through ceremonies July 29-Aug. 1 at the Raymond and Utica campuses. Ceremonies were adjusted from the traditional format due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“The most exciting time of year for educators is graduation,” said Hinds President Dr. Stephen Vacik. “It is a milestone for students. It is a milestone for faculty and staff as well. Even in this time of interpersonal challenge, we want to be deliberate in celebrating the achievements of our students. To that end, Hinds CC hosted drive-through commencement exercises over four days. And even though it looked different than past graduations, because it is our affirmative response to an adversary in COVID-19, it will be even more meaningful.”
Blevins took courses at the Rankin Campus Career-Technical Education building and benefited from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program. The program provides federal aid to support training for qualifying students in approved career-tech programs at Hinds.
“He recognized he wanted more for himself and his daughters,” said Temcula Robinson, who works to keep students in the program on track to graduate by helping with both academics and financial aid. “His story is that of perseverance like many other students here at Hinds Community College.”
He plans to continue his education at Jackson State University and complete a degree in industrial engineering, an achievement he says will serve as the best inspiration possible for his two daughters, L’Deja, 11, and Ly’Niah, 9.
“I believe in leading by example,” he said. “The reason that I decided to go back to school is because I am a single father and I am determined to set a great example for my daughters.”