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MAACE 2023
Student of the Year

Toni Finch

East Mississippi Community College

Toni Finch is a very motivated student.  She works hard at all that she does because she is persistent in striving to obtain her goals.  As she stated, she wants to influence my daughters, family members and friends, that if you apply yourself, be determined, and never give up, you can have an education.  Toni has a very friendly, open and teachable manner.  She always worked outside of class on her own, and when she was absent, which was not often, she was always concerned about making up any missed work.  She was very persistent in obtaining her HSE; she even took the GED Science test, her last test, while waiting to receive a score from HiSET on the Science test she had taken a week earlier, just so she could be finish by graduation in December.  She was tired of studying, but she took one more test and did great with it.  After graduation, we found out that she had also passed the HiSET Science test as well. 

Being a mother and wife, Toni had responsibilities outside school.  Toni started each day at 5:30 to prepare herself and her daughter for school.  She would then drive her daughter to school across the state line to Millport, AL.  Then, she would drive back through Columbus to our campus, giving her about an hours compute each morning.  This was repeated in the afternoon to pick up her daughter.  If her day was extended, she would have to depend on other family members to help her.  Then, after a long commute and being at school, Toni would work on homework or study outside class.  That meant more time away from her family.  In reference to her family, she said They think all I did was study, do homework, or talk about studying.  Toni confided to me that some other hardships she encountered were fearing failure, being too old to go back to school, having anxiety over using computers and feeling nervousness about speaking out in class.

Toni is a MIBEST student that continues to take Digital Literacy classes with our Adult Education program as well as taking classes at EMCC under the Business Management Technology career pathway.


Toni’s perseverance in our program should inspire other students.  It is easy to give up if you don’t pass a test, make a gain on a posttest or circumstances in life become stressful.  Just walking through the door to start the whole process can be overwhelming.  Toni stayed in our program for a little over a year, and she didn’t meet success at every turn.  Yet, she never gave up.  It is a testimony to others when someone continues to work toward her goals even when it doesn’t happen immediately and easily.


Toni wants to complete the Business Management Technology program and become an administrative assistant.  She would like to earn a salary, along with her husband’s, that allows her to raise her family and help provide for her family’s first home on their own land.

What is your favorite thing about this student's attitude?

Toni befriended other students and encouraged them to succeed, and she befriended her teachers.  Toni observed things carefully, and if she saw a need, she would pull from her own resources to fulfill that need.  If I was out of candy for my problem of the day or temporarily out of a school supply, she would contribute to the class supply.  If our snack supply was low, she might bring some snacks.  In addition, she would bring items to enhance the lessons.

(information above was taken directly from the nomination submission)

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