MSU’s T.K. Martin Center hosts hands-on career exploration for students with disabilities

Friday, May 31, 2024

Student driving virtually

Contact: Bethany Shipp

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Local students with disabilities experienced hands-on, career exploration activities during the Job Extravaganza hosted recently by Mississippi State’s T.K. Martin Center for Technology and Disability and the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services (MDRS).

More than 20 students ages 14-21 from Starkville Oktibbeha School District, West Point Consolidated School District, home schools and MSU joined representatives from state and local businesses at Skate Odyssey in Starkville on May 13 and engaged in interactive simulators and activities designed to promote technical and practical skills used in the workplace. Activities included virtual driving and welding, budgeting games, sorting challenges and wheelchair transport. Additionally, Chick-fil-A and Build Mississippi facilitated breakout sessions covering job exploration counseling, workplace readiness training and self-advocacy.

“This outreach was meticulously designed to be inclusive and engaging, showcasing a variety of career opportunities through fun and tailored activities at each station,” said Stacy Jackson, T.K. Martin Center project coordinator. “We are deeply committed to helping participants build community ties and to enhancing public awareness about the capabilities and potential of these young individuals.”

The Job Extravaganza marked the first in a series planned by the center in partnership with MDRS as an inclusive outreach to students with disabilities in northeast Mississippi. Other businesses participating in the event included Ability Works, BJ’s Pharmacy, Jersey Mike’s Subs, Modern Woodmen, OCH Regional Medical Center’s Project SEARCH, Shep’s Cleaners, Skate Odyssey and Worker Bees.

“The Job Extravaganza offered high school students with disabilities an invaluable opportunity to explore diverse career choices through hands-on experiences with businesses and trade schools. We are thankful and excited to pursue this model of career exploration through our partnerships with local school districts and host organizations such as MSU’s T.K. Martin Center,” said Josh Woodward, MDRS Director of the Office of Business Development.

Mevalone Johnson, a special education teacher at West Point High School, said her students “haven't stopped talking about the wonderful experience” they had at the event.

“If I had to describe the event with three words, they would be awesome, interactive and learning. My students got to participate in many hands-on learning activities, and they’re still talking about the Chick-fil-A cookies and saying ‘My pleasure’ with a smile. I was truly impressed by the event, and I’m very grateful we had the opportunity to attend.”

The Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services is a state agency that provides resources to help Mississippians with disabilities find new careers, live more independently, overcome obstacles and face new challenges. To learn more about the services provided, visit or call 800-443-1000.

The T.K. Martin Center for Technology and Disability provides comprehensive, multidisciplinary evaluations and services to ensure individuals with disabilities continually benefit from technological solutions and advances in the field of assistive technology. Learn more about the center, housed in MSU’s College of Education, at

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