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Complete to Compete helps former Ole Miss students earn degrees

A special University of Mississippi graduation event took place on Aug. 4 at the Jackson Avenue Center.

Police officers, professional athletes and stay-at-home parents were just a few of the people honored through the University’s Complete to Compete, or C2C program. To be a part of C2C, one had to have previously completed the full slate of college coursework, making them eligible for the new bachelor’s degree in university studies.

C2C was created by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning and the Mississippi Community College Board to help adults who have been out of college for at least two years and desire to finish their postsecondary degrees. In less than a year, UM academic advisers have received C2C applications from over 1,200 former students who had some college coursework, but had not completed a full degree program. 150 C2C applicants were eligible to obtain their degree without taking additional courses, a statement from the university said.

“The first thing I ask people interested in this program is, ‘Tell me your story,’” Audra Trnovec, UM academic counselor and C2C coach, said in a recent news release. “I ask for the background on their educational journey so I can help them put together a plan to be successful Many C2C students have shared stories about the reasons surrounding the pause in their education.”

Regardless of their reasons for discontinuing their education initially, Trnovec said each student has a unique background and unique goal. Whether they had to care for their children, support a spouse or even serve in the military, she said, the important thing is, they chose to come back.

Fhan Cooper, of Crystal Lake, Ill., played right tackle for Ole Miss during the banner 2014 and 2015 seasons, but he left Oxford for the NFL just a few credits shy of graduation. Cooper, who was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers and later traded to the Indianapolis Colts, is a free agent looking for his next opportunity.

“I want to be ready for what is next in my life,” Cooper said in a recent news release. “I’d like to earn my master’s degree in education so that I can become a good teacher. I think this will help me in a coaching role if I know how to teach concepts and information in an understandable way. And I think completing a degree shows people you take pride in what you do, and you value the work.”

Former Ole Miss students who are interested in learning more about this program can visit http://c2c.olemiss.edu/university-studies/.