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Project Search Program at USM Sees 11 Interns Meet Graduation Requirements

Fri, 05/31/2019 - 14:41pm | By: Jerry Alliston

Project Search program graduates for 2019.

The words of English author A.A. Milne, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think” were once again featured as the inspirational message for the fourth annual Project SEARCH Southern Miss graduation.

Eleven interns met all criteria of the Project SEARCH employment program with 10 interns participating in the actual graduation ceremony at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) on Tuesday, May 22. 

Project SEARCH is a 10-month training program administered by USM's Institute of Disability Studies (IDS) that consists of daily employment preparatory skills training, community development, mentoring services and work internships. The interns participated in daily employment training and then completed three work internships with the outcome goal of young adults with intellectual, cognitive and other developmental disabilities obtaining competitive, community-based employment.

“These interns have been very dedicated over the last year and have worked on improving their employment skills,” said Dr. Jerry R. Alliston, associate director at IDS. “Several interns have already acquired community-based employment positions prior to graduation which demonstrates the impact of this program.”

Project SEARCH is a collaborative effort among three strong Hattiesburg community partners. USM serves as the host business and provides training space and internships. The Hattiesburg Public School District provides a full-time teacher and the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services supplies two job coaches. In addition, all interns are recommended to apply for Mississippi Division of Medicaid Waiver Services for long-term support.

Originally developed at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in 1996, Project SEARCH offered employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities in a medical setting. IDS received a grant through the Mississippi Council on Developmental Disabilities (MSCDD) in 2014 to plan and implement Mississippi's first program, making Project SEARCH Southern Miss a reality.

For more information about the Institute for Disability Studies, call 601.266.5163 or visit