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

Selected from MCEF’s three districts are Elijah Hodum, a metal fabrication and carpentry student at Alcorn Career and Technology Center; Jakendal Ruffin, a welding student at Laurel Career and Technical Center; and William Thigpen, a carpentry student at Hinds Community College in Vicksburg.

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 next 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."

As a four-year career and technical education student, Hodum is on track to complete three programs before graduation, including carpentry, metal fabrication and ag power and equipment.

In addition to winning the 2019 FFA Northeast Federation skills welding competition, he is his center’s metal fabrication student of the year, outstanding construction student, and citizenship award winner in ag power and equipment. Hodum also participates in SkillsUSA, varsity football and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Of significance is his selection into a three-year paid internship program sponsored by Oil-Dri Corporation that began in September. Upon graduation, Hodum plans to study industrial maintenance at an area community college while working part time at Oil-Dri.

Ruffin enjoys expanding her skills through career and technical education and is already making strides in her preparation for the district craft competition next Spring.

An honors student at Laurel High School, she has earned multiple awards for her impressive ACT score and strong academic performance. Away from the classroom, she volunteers for local mission opportunities while participating as a member of the student council, the Beta Club and the volleyball team.

Upon graduation, Ruffin plans to pursue a career as a lawyer.

Praised by instructors for his impressive desire to learn, Thigpen owns the highest grade point average in his class as well as the school’s best score on the National Center for Construction Education and Research test.

A member of the National Honors Society at Warren Central High School, he also participates as a football manager and is a standout on the bowling, powerlifting and archery teams. He also enjoys serving as a volunteer with the YMCA day camp.

Thigpen plans to pursue certifications in carpentry and electrical technology along with an associate degree in business.

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