News and Announcements

Six graduate from Project SEARCH

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May 17 2019

A room filled with family, friends and Southwestern Community College employees celebrated their Project SEARCH® interns’ graduation during a May 13 ceremony in the Burrell Building on the Jackson Campus.

This marks the fifth anniversary of SCC’s Project SEARCH® program, but it’s the first year Southwestern has hosted the program. The program was previously located at Harris Regional Hospital and Western Carolina University.

Six graduates wearing blue graduation caps and gowns stand outside a brick buildding

This year’s graduates from SCC’s Project SEARCH program are, from left: Jamie Grace of Highlands, Shannon Albert of Cherokee, Heather Tomberlin of Franklin, Jesse Crowe of Cherokee, Mikayla Roper of Sylva and Ryan Key of Franklin. They were honored in a graduation ceremony on May 13 at SCC’s Jackson Campus in Sylva.

A national nonprofit program, Project SEARCH® partners with businesses to create internships for young adults with disabilities.

It allows men and women from ages 18-30 with disabilities to gain marketable and transferrable employability skills through the implementation of hands-on work experience during a series of three separate, 10-week internships matched to their individual interests, strengths and abilities.

This year’s graduating interns were Shannon Albert of Cherokee, Jesse Crowe of Cherokee, Jamie Grace of Highlands, Ryan Key of Franklin, Mikayla Roper of Sylva and Heather Tomberlin of Franklin.

“It has been a pure joy everytime we run into one of these students smiling as they work at their various internships across campus,” SCC President Dr. Don Tomas said. “What I appreciate most about this program is that it focuses on what these young men and women are able to do. Because of what they’ve learned through Project SEARCH®, these graduates can now find work and enjoy more independence in their lives.”

Throughout their time on SCC’s Jackson Campus, the students completed internships with SCC’s horticulturalist (Tonya Nifong), Café ’64, the Health Sciences Division as well as in the Public Relations and Advertising/Graphic Design department.

Other internships took place in the Career Technologies division, Human Resources and Student Services.

One intern even detailed and washed the vehicles in SCC’s fleet.

“The Project SEARCH® program exposes the interns to actual job environments,” said Sandra Seibert, Administrative Assistant for the Health Sciences Division. “For example, some tasks can be repetitive or messy. Most jobs are not glamorous! But our interns had a desirable work ethic. I would hire some of the graduates of the program for certain tasks without hesitation!“

For more information about Project SEARCH®, including job-placement opportunities for recent graduates, contact program coordinator Devonne Jimison at 828.339.4486 or devonnej[at]southwesternccc[dot]edu.