Pickens Co. College, Career center aims to help students succeed

PICKENS COUNTY, Ala. (WCBI) – Helping students face the challenges of continuing their education and joining the workforce were two of the aims of The Pickens County College and Career Center Foundation.

Kim Dyer is the president of the non-profit organization.

“Nowadays, kids need more of a focus,” said Dyer. “Home lives are different now, the expense of college has greatly increased over the years. Our sole job is to scholarship children so that they can take advantage of the dual enrollment courses once they’ve chosen a career pathway. ”

The career center allows students to learn skills in a variety of different fields including, healthcare, industrial maintenance, agriscience, and more.

The scholarships allow students to earn dual enrollment, and leave high school with an associate’s degree, certificates, and experience in the field of their choice.

Rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors can apply for scholarships to the center.

“They have the ability to be successful, but they may not have the financial resources,” said Pickens County College and Career Center Principal Shawn McDaniel.

Jamie Chapman is the Superintendent of Education for Pickens County.

“Most of our kids and families drive over to work in Tuscaloosa or Columbus Mississippi,” said Chapman. “There is an expected shortage in the West Alabama area in 2026, I believe, of a workforce shortage of 150- thousand people. This just gives our kids an extra opportunity.”

Principal Shawn McDaniel says having these opportunities allows for growth in the county by having students gain experience, work close to home, and contribute back to the community.

“I think it’s important that these students are developed with a school-set trade,” said McDaniel. “Then, they’re able to go out, learn how businesses and industries operate, and then come back to Pickens County and live. It brings rooftops back, which provides more people, which provides a more skilled workforce in Pickens County and creates a labor force for jobs and companies to want to come to a rural community.”

The program says the goal is for all the students that apply to receive scholarships, and the foundation was able to award 56-thousand dollars worth to the students.

“We say around here we want our kids to have more opportunities this year than last. That’s what happening and this thing has grown and they’re taking advantage of it,” said Chapman.

The recipients of the 2024-2025 scholarships will be awarded in August.

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