Albert, Crowe included in SCC’s award-winning Project SEARCH 

by Oct 13, 2020COMMUNITY sgadugi


SYLVA – Even as the United States has grappled with record-high unemployment figures, one of Southwestern Community College’s job-preparation programs has managed a 100-percent employment rate.

Members of the SCC Project SEARCH program’s 2018-19 graduating class include, from left: Jamie Grace of Highlands, Shannon Albert of Cherokee, Heather Tomberlin of Franklin, Jesse Crowe of Cherokee, Mikayla Roper of Sylva and Ryan Key of Franklin. (SCC photo)

All six members of SCC Project SEARCH’s 2018-19 graduating class currently have jobs in the region, landing program leaders and coaches a nationwide “Employment Outcome Award.”  The 2018-19 graduates are Shannon Albert of Cherokee, Jesse Crowe of Cherokee, Jamie Grace of Highlands, Ryan Key of Franklin, Mikayla Roper of Sylva and Heather Tomberlin of Franklin.

At the time awards were presented, all but one of the 2018-19 alumni had secured employment – so the honor reflects an 80-89 percent job-placement rate. But the timing didn’t lessen the significance for program coordinator Devonnne Jimison.

“Our program is all about bringing hope to families who desperately need it, and ultimately helping young people lead more fulfilling lives,” said Jimison, who’s overseen SCC’s Project SEARCH operation since its inception in 2014. “Every year, we have received the award for placing between 80-to-100 percent of our graduates in jobs. These are individuals who’ve been told their entire lives that they could never be productive members of society, so to see them gaining confidence and feeling good about themselves brings tears to my eyes.”

A national non-profit effort, Project SEARCH partners with businesses to create internships for young men and women from ages 18-30 with disabilities. Over the years, the local program’s host sites have included Harris Regional Hospital, Western Carolina University and SCC.

Project SEARCH annually presents job-placement awards for graduates from the previous year, allowing each host site 12 months to help graduates find employment.

Employers who hired SCC’s 2018-19 graduates include Tomberlin Tax & Accounting, Inc., in Clayton, Ga.; Lowe’s of Franklin; Old Edwards Inn of Highlands; Granny’s Kitchen in Cherokee; Paul’s Restaurant in Cherokee; and Full Spectrum Farms in Cullowhee.

“Devonne does an amazing job with our Project SEARCH students,” said Kay Wolf, SCC’s College and Career Readiness Director. “I’m pleased that the national organization has recognized all the wonderful work our Project SEARCH team does on behalf of these exceptional individuals.”

SCC and Jimison are seeking prospective students for the 2021-22 academic year. For more information, contact her at (828) 339-4486 or

– Southwestern Community College release