Mississippi’s Base Camp Coding Academy Welcomes a New Executive Director with its 2021 Class

Industry: Technology

Base Camp Coding Academy (BCCA) revises their staff, structure, and location for the 2021 class.

Water Valley, MS (PRUnderground) September 18th, 2020

New BCCA Executive Director

Base Camp is excited to announce Corey Mize as the new Executive Director of Base Camp Coding Academy!  Corey joins Base Camp after four years with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg, MS, where she worked as a computer scientist and program manager.  Corey received her M.S. in computer science from Mississippi State, and has spent the past several years promoting computer science access across the state in volunteer capacities with CS4MS and the Vicksburg Coding and Robotics Camp, as well as teaching freshman and senior level courses at Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi.  When asked why she was interested in joining Base Camp, Corey said: “As a student in Mississippi, I did not have access to the same computer science and programming opportunities as my counterparts in other states.  When I chose to pursue a computer science degree at Mississippi State University it was the result of a desire to bring those opportunities to this state. …I have been aware of Base Camp Coding Academy since its inception, and I have always wanted to be more involved in improving, promoting, and expanding access to computer science in Mississippi.”  Corey’s passion for this work, unique technical experience, relationships within the industry, and connections with North MS schools will help grow and improve Base Camp for the future.

New BCCA Director

Fernae Ellard joined Base Camp as an instructor in the spring of 2019 and has exceeded expectations, expanding her influence and excelling in every new area of responsibility.  We are proud to announce Fernae’s promotion to Director of Base Camp Coding Academy!  This year, Fernae is leading classroom culture and the Professionalism and Community components of the Base Camp curriculum.  The time she spends with the students developing their professional, teamwork, and communication skills will be vital to their success in the workplace.

Class of 2021

This fresh crop of young Mississippi talent represents 15 area public high schools, and two homeschooling programs. They have weathered a challenging senior year of their high school experience, a new socially distanced admissions process with Base Camp, and a creative summer of small projects that prepared them for the delayed start date of September 8th this year. Now in their second week at Base Camp, these energetic and driven students are powering through the challenging Base Camp program, eight hours every weekday, for the next year.  Each morning is spent studying new technical material, including several interactive discovery sessions and individual learning periods led by Senior Technical Director, Nate Clark.  Throughout the afternoon, students work with Director, Fernae Ellard on developing professional, teamwork, and communication skills that will be vital to their success in the workplace.  This is all being accomplished while adhering to the new protocols put in place during this pandemic.  Base Camp students are facing a more complex world and learning environment, but, thanks to Base Camp’s outstanding new facility, technology resources, and our dedicated staff, the students are excelling in this new ecosystem!

Where are they now? Class of 2020

The Base Camp class of 2020 completed their last 3 months of the program remotely, and graduated virtually this past May, into a challenging job market. At this time one student has elected to continue his education, and every other graduate secured an internship or employment opportunity with CSpire, Morgan White Group, or CoreLogic. The accomplishments of these young professionals, and the amazing businesses that continue to lead Mississippi’s efforts in growing and employing our future tech workforce are what make Base Camp Coding Academy a reality.

2020 Student Highlights: Umesh Sanjanwala, the State Director for Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, reached out with an idea for an application to improve office efficiency. While waiting to start his position at CoreLogic, Derek Stegall, class of 2020, built and delivered a solution in two short weeks. Tyler Irving and Devin Booker, class of 2020, focused their Capstone Project on a new website for the city of Water Valley, allowing the citizens of Water Valley to access civic meetings, agendas, and recordings of board meetings during these difficult times:  WaterValleyMS.com. One more benefit of a home-grown tech workforce, proud of their skills and excited to help their communities and grow their portfolios!

Northwest Mississippi Community College Satellite Campus at Everest

Base Camp Coding Academy is now operating at Everest, Mississippi’s First Rural Education and Innovation Hub, and soon one of their main partners will be joining them.  Northwest Mississippi Community College will co-locate with Base Camp in a neighboring wing at Everest in the coming months.  The cross-pollination between these two organizations has been a foundational part of Base Camp’s success, and they are looking forward to the new opportunities the future holds.  The President of NWCC, Dr. Michael Heindl, said the following when asked about this new expansion: “We at Northwest Mississippi Community College are excited about the expanded Career-Technical, Workforce, and Healthcare training opportunities that will be available to the citizens of Yalobusha County, and beyond, at Everest.”  These additional opportunities are exciting for the community, and the Base Camp students are very excited about receiving college credit through NWCC along with their Base Camp certificate!

About Base Camp Coding Academy

Located in Water Valley, MS, the non-profit Base Camp Coding Academy (BCCA) is a hands-on, challenging and fun program, designed to train recent high school graduates to be software engineers. In a small classroom setting, students work with real world technologies to learn the fundamentals of coding, app development and the life leadership skills they will need to be successful in their career and competitive in the job market. The year-long program is free to students thanks to the support of Sustaining Sponsors including the MorganWhite Group, CoreLogic, Renasant Bank, CSpire, and FedEx and aims to help address the private sector’s historical shortage of high-tech skilled labor by training local youth to fill the positions. Every year, Mississippi has 1,200 unfilled computing jobs and less than 200 computer science graduates.

Everest, also located in Water Valley, Miss., is a partnership with Northwest Mississippi Community College, The City of Water Valley, Delta Regional Authority, and corporate and philanthropic sponsors to develop Mississippi’s first Rural Education and Innovation Hub providing tech and tech adjacent workforce training in this previously underserved region of Mississippi.

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