Twenty-two-year-old Heston Harrison was a successful student who graduated from both high school and college with honors. But like many others his age, he was still unsure of his long-term career goals and where his interests lay.

While applying for various jobs post-graduation, Harrison was referred by a counselor to South Mississippi Planning and Development District's (SMPDD) WIOA Youth program at East Central Community College.

“I had no real direction with deciding on a career. During the training at ECCC, I was given a personality test and a career interest inventory. The results showed human services as my top interest for a career choice and showed me my personal and career strengths.”

As part of the training, Harrison was placed at the Kemper-Newton Regional Library in Newton County and after a brief time, he was offered a full-time position.

Harrison said, “This program not only set me up with a job, but also taught me the basic skills needed to be successful in any career, such as resume building, interview prep, budgeting, financial literacy, and how to be an invaluable employee. I know I can apply what I learned in this program to any opportunity that comes my way.”

For those interested in enrolling or learning more about the SMPDD WIOA Youth Program, please contact Shavonn Pruitt at 601-635-6404 or at

The South Mississippi Planning and Development District's Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Youth program is designed to assist individuals aged 16 to 24 in acquiring essential job skills, exploring career interests, and securing meaningful internships and long-term employment. Funded by SMPDD, this program aims to empower young adults like Heston Harrison to thrive in the workforce.