Project SEARCH interns graduate at Merit Health River Region

Published 12:35 pm Friday, May 27, 2022

Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, Merit Health River Region and the Vicksburg Warren School District announced this week the completion of the 2021-22 year of Project SEARCH.

A graduation ceremony was held on May 18 at Merit Health River Region hospital, to celebrate Joshua Chocolate, Sammie Lindsey, Tyronda Mitchell, Justin Stewart and Kiara Thomas. 

For the past year, the interns have worked their way through rotations in different departments of Merit Health River Region. Along with on-site job duties, interns were taught business etiquette, interview skills, personal presentation and current events. 

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Mohammad Aslam, Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) for MHRR, stated, “This is the first time I’ve seen a program like Project Search that provides this opportunity. I acknowledge the parents who have fought through challenges from the beginning of these students’ lives. I thank the Project Search coordinators, and the Vicksburg-Warren School District staff, for their vision and dedication to this program.” CNO Aslam continues, “I appreciate our leaders who made this possible by opening up their departments to successfully train these young people. Kudos to the graduates who have shown their commitment and worked hard to complete the program and become productive members of society. It has been a blessing to see these young people grow during this school year, and we wish them much success.”

Project SEARCH, a national program designed to help students with disabilities obtain competitive community-based employment, is expanding in Mississippi through a strategic collaboration between the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, local school districts and host businesses. 

“I have the best job ever. I get to go around the state and see these young adults’ lives change, get jobs and have a purpose, it’s amazing,” said Faye Culpepper, State Director for Project SEARCH. “We have 13 graduations this year and next year we will have 18 programs.”

The Project SEARCH program in Vicksburg offers students from the Vicksburg Warren School District a 10-month internship position. This opportunity allows the students to work on employability and functional skills in several areas including team building, technology, communication, job search skills and money management.