PEARL ― The Mississippi Construction Education Foundation is recognizing three career and technical education standouts as its students of the month for January.

Selected from MCEF’s three districts are Michael Huling, a welding student at Itawamba Career and Technical Center; Kaden McDonald, a construction technology student at Philadelphia/Neshoba County Career Technical Center; and Julianna Simmons, a welding student at South Pike Career and Technical Center.

Winners are chosen based on grades, attendance, discipline in class, outstanding achievements, leadership abilities, and post-graduation plans. All will compete for student of the year honors at the foundation’s annual awards program in May.

"We congratulate our student of the month winners for being such excellent representatives of high school career tech programs in Mississippi," said Mike Barkett, MCEF president. "We're proud of each of them for helping ensure our state has a highly skilled workforce to support the state's growing construction and manufacturing industries."

Praised by instructors for his strong work ethic and positive attitude, Huling is a leader at his center and in his community. His accomplishments include being selected as Itawamba’s 2018 student of the year and serving as a volunteer with the Evergreen/Carolina Fire Department.

Huling’s plans call for additional welding studies at Itawamba Community College.

McDonald sets the bar when it comes to applying his knowledge of mathematics to complete construction shop assignments. He is a special honors scholar with an overall 95 average for all classes and a perfect score on his statewide Algebra I assessment.

A member of the Technology Student Association and SkillsUSA, McDonald is researching the possibilities of studying petroleum engineering at LSU.

Scoring highest in her class on the recent National Center for Education and Research certification exam, Simmons has a passion for career and technical education and is active in her local Technology Student Association and SkillsUSA chapters.

At South Pike High School, she is a band member, a principal’s scholar, and winner of the McComb Lions Club appreciation award. She also is active at Thompson Baptist Church, where she participates in the youth choir and on summer mission trips.

After graduation, Simmons plans to study welding and criminal justice.

MCEF is a non-profit educational foundation that provides NCCER craft training and credentialing in more than 100 career and technical programs across the state. The foundation’s mission is to train individuals for the construction and manufacturing industries in Mississippi.

MCEF also offers workforce training and credentialing in construction, industrial maintenance and manufacturing trades. Learn more about MCEF at