HATTIESBURG - Alexander “AJ” Province admits it has taken him a long time to fully appreciate the importance of education.
Today, Province, a sophomore at Pearl River Community College, has purpose and direction. At 30, he is back in school to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to perform at the highest level.
He is a student in Electronics Engineering Technology, one of several Career-Technical Education programs offered at PRCC.
“I have always been a tinkerer, loved working with my hands,” said Province. “I was following through with academia when I met David Collum (chair and Instructor of Electronics Engineering).
“He was a Phi Theta Kappa advisor, talked about his program at a PTK meeting and the opportunities it presented. It just clicked for me. I decided this is where I want to be.”
Province has had to overcome some major obstacles in his personal life, starting after he finished high school at the Mississippi School for the Arts in Brookhaven. Recovery meetings along the way helped him to seek a different path in his life.
It took him some time to fully appreciate the importance of education.
PRCC instructors Drs. Terri and Ryan Ruckel, who Province met at a wedding of mutual friends, got the ball rolling for him. “After just five minutes of meeting with them, they planted the seed for me to get back into school,” he said.
He had other encouragement along the way, starting with Sarah, his wife of four years – and a PRCC graduate. She is the general manager of a Hattiesburg hotel. They have an 8-year-old son. “Sarah thinks I am smarter than I am,” he said.
Three semesters in school and Province is not only the Career-Technical representative in Phi Theta Kappa, but he also serves as vice president of the National Technical Honor Society at PRCC’s Forrest County Center, vice president of Sigma Kappa Delta English Honor Society, Alpha Epsilon chapter; president of the Table Top Gaming Club and a member of the Dr. William Lewis Honors Institute.
Province won’t graduate until spring 2021, so he is making the most of his time at PRCC, both in the Electronics Engineering program, as well as his membership in Phi Theta Kappa and the Honors Institute.
“It’s been a thrilling and exhausting ride for me,” he said. “Kind of like riding a roller coaster. When you get off, the blood going even faster, then you have to sit down. That is how it is every day. I am doing something I want to do my entire life, learning programming, working on the training boards, assisting in building two different trainers. I like the cool stuff, the tinkering. Even the book stuff.
“I would have never thought a community college would have something like this to offer. I never knew it existed.”
Collum sees a bright future for Province. “AJ is an outstanding student who goes out of his way to help his fellow students and instructors,” said Collum. “He goes above and beyond to learn as much as he can about electronics and industrial technology. He will be a fantastic technician.”
Pearl River Community College offers equal education and employment opportunities. The College does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, national origin, veteran status, or disability. For inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies or to request accommodations, special assistance, or alternate format publication please contact Tonia M. Seal, Director of Admissions and Records/ ADA/Civil Rights Coordinator at P.O. Box 5559, Poplarville, MS 39470 or 601-403-1060 or Maghan James, Assistant Vice President of Student Services/Title IX Coordinator at P.O. Box 5805, Poplarville, MS 39470 or 601-403-1132.