The Division of Economic and Workforce Development at The University of West Alabama
July 2019
Workforce Development
UWA hosts Career Exploration Summer Camp 2019

Students tour UWA's Automotive career department.

Thirty-nine students from across the Black Belt participated in the University of West Alabama's (UWA) Division of Economic and Workforce Development's 2019 Career Exploration Summer Camp (CESC) for upcoming high school sophomores and juniors. This program, held on UWA's campus, gives students the opportunity to explore different career options and help prepare for college. 

"Exposing students to career opportunities, while guiding them to the various pathways to get there, is important in helping them and their parents make informed decisions for their future," said Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development Dr. Tina Jones.

Students are able to engage in activities such as '"iCommunicate for success," financial literacy, technical career engagement, team scavenger hunts, and learning about biodiversity. Students also participate in etiquette training where they learn formal dinner expectations and table manners along with business etiquette in the workplace.

The program is sponsored by the Daniel Foundation of Alabama. The CESC program is open to students attending public and private schools located in Choctaw, Greene, Hale, Marengo, Perry, Pickens, Wilcox and Sumter counties. 

"We appreciate the Daniel Foundation's continued support of this program," said program supervisor Sanquenetta Thompson.
Participants were selected from a competitive application process and represented 13 high schools.

Insight on current career fields, information on the skills and requirements needed for each career field, and information on job growth for each field is also offered through this program, giving students ideas on ways that they can prepare for the future while still in high school. Students also participate in standardized applicant test preparation courses to further educate them on employment opportunities. 

For more information, contact Sanquenetta Thompson at 205-652-3408 or email

Click here to  view more camp pictures.

True Vine Foundation in Eutaw, Alabama helped campers develop leadership skills on the low ropes course.

CNA graduation held at UWA... 

UWA WIOA Certified Nursing Assistant graduates

The WIOA Career Pathways for Youth: Certified Nursing Assistant Program at The University of West Alabama's Division of Economic and Workforce Development held its graduation on June 21, 2019 on the UWA campus. The program offers instruction that is both lecture and clinical-based. 

Students learn techniques using the tools professionals use in the field. An investment of time coupled with UWA's commitment to success will return dividends in the knowledge and skills that will help students be effective as a CNA. In addition, students will learn the soft skills necessary for a job in any field.

Interested individuals should call Jordan Mahaffey, WIOA Program Director, at (205) 652-3828 or email her at 

Click  here  to view graduation pictures.

WIOA Career Pathways Program at UWA now accepting applications for CNA and automotive training programs

Click here to download the flyer.
The University of West Alabama's Division of Economic and Workforce Development received funding to host their WIOA Career Pathways for Youth Program for another year. 
The program's request for funding was approved on May 2 at the Region 3 Quarterly Workforce Summit.  Funding was awarded to expand the program to include automotive technician training beginning in July of 2019. The existing CNA Program, which began in 2016, was also approved for another year. Young adults between the ages of 16 to 24 that have a high school diploma or GED and are currently out of school are encouraged to apply for the 2019-2020 Program Year.
In addition, participants will take the ACT WorkKeys assessment to obtain National Career Readiness Certification as well as receive their CPR certification, OSHA safety certification, and training in essential job readiness skills such as communication and financial literacy. 
"There is a documented demand for both qualified CNAs and automotive technicians in our region and the state of Alabama," said Tina Jones, Vice President of UWA's Division of Economic and Workforce Development. "We are fortunate to be able to collaborate with UWA's Division of Nursing and College of Business Technology with this program. Their facilities combined with quality teaching will provide our participants with a great opportunity to receive hands-on instruction in a real world environment."  
This free program is possible through funding made available to the State of Alabama from the Federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The grantor is the U.S. Department of Labor and the program is administered by the Alabama Department of Commerce, Workforce Development Division, AWDA Section.
Interested individuals should  call Jordan Mahaffey, WIOA Program Director, at (205) 652-3828 or email her at

Welding Fundamentals Training class offered at UWA

Welding Instructor J.D. Pruitt works with students in the UWA welding class.
The University of West Alabama (UWA)  will offer a Basic Wire-Welding (MIG) Training class Saturday, July 13 and Saturday, July 27.  Sponsored by UWA's College of Business and Technology and the Division of Economic and Workforce Development, the Saturday class is limited to 12 students and will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Hunt Annex on the UWA campus. Lunch is from noon to 1:00 p.m. at your choice of local restaurants in Livingston including but not limited to the UWA Cafeteria or any of the fast food restaurants.

Class learning objectives include the ability to properly set-up an Oxygen-Acetylene torch for cutting, set-up welding machines, and perform basic Wire Welding (MIG) welding tasks.  Class participants will also learn safety for each process.

Anyone age 18 or above interested in learning the basics of welding is encouraged to attend the class and no prior welding experience is necessary.

The course fee is $25 per student. 

Registration deadline is Wednesday, July 10 for July 13 class

Registration deadline is Wednesday, July 24 for July 27 class.

Participants are required to wear long pants, safety shoes and bring long sleeve shirt.

For more information on the Welding Fundamentals Class, please call contact JD Pruitt at (205) 652-3488 or email

Economic Development

Livingston Downtown Wayfinding Signage project underway

The City of Livingston is currently in the process of adding and updating its downtown wayfinding signage to create a cohesive brand design throughout downtown and an easier way for citizens, students, and visitors to navigate their way around town.  

There will be 16 wayfinding and destination signs, of four design types, added to strategic locations in downtown Livingston.  The new signs will have a nice, clean color scheme that match city and campus branding in addition to a reflective copy for easy visibility.  With the approval of this Livingston Downtown Wayfinding Project, the City of Livingston will be improving its image and meeting city and county planning goals.  

The Project is funded through AL Pro Health and is a project of the  City of Livingston, Healthy Places for Healthy People, and Sumter Renaissance.  The Committee included Rodney Granec, Mayor Tom Tartt, Bird Dial, Sam Ledbetter, Vivian Hauser, David Hawley, Lindsey Truelove, and Allison Brantley.

For more information, contact UWA's Director of Economic Development Director Allison Brantley at or call (205) 652-3618.

Community Outreach
UWA's Brian Mast travels in time through living history

A French Marine soldier is one living history  portrayal by Mast.
"A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots." 

When Marcus Garvey made this statement he probably had no idea that there was someone in the small town of Livingston, Alabama that was unknowingly helping others remain rooted.

Brian Mast, Public Historian and Educator for the Black Belt Museum at The University of West Alabama (UWA), works daily to solve the problem that this quote presents. He does his best to make sure that the people of Livingston and all surrounding communities are able to learn about their history. 

"There is a rich heritage and a broad group of culture that is here now and that was here many years ago that people should know about," Mast said.

Although Mast works in Livingston, he got his start almost 1000 miles away in the Northeast state of Pennsylvania.

"I actually got into this career by accident," said Mast. He attended Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania where he also played lacrosse. "I had priorities: play lacrosse, go to class and make good enough grades so I can play lacrosse." In 2007 he graduated with a degree in History and Political Science with still no idea of what he wanted to do. Since he was also a student-athlete he missed out on internship opportunities. 

 However, with graduation looming, Mast knew he had to make a move - it was crunch time. He decided to apply for an internship at Fort Necessity National Battlefield, a national park in Farmington, Pennsylvania. Mast spent three months at this specific location fulfilling his internship. In his first two months, he did research for the park. After that, he started presenting programs to the public three times a day. It was while doing this that  Mast realized what his career choice would be. 

"I knew immediately that this is what I wanted to do," Mast said.

After his internship, Mast decided to go to graduate school. He informed his colleagues at Fort Necessity and also learned of a special program through the federal government which made it easier for him to receive a park ranger job. He applied for both graduate school and the program. He was later notified that he had been accepted into graduate school and gotten the job pretty much the same day. Receiving this job led to many opportunities for Mast.

"Part of my degree instead of doing a thesis was to actually go out and work for different parks," Mast explained. 
He got a chance to work at the "Flight 93 National Memorial" right before the 8-year anniversary. "That was actually really cool," according to Mast.

He also had the opportunity of working at Harpers Ferry in their education department. After doing all of these amazing things, Mast decided to broaden his career, this time in a different location.

He packed up and moved to Alabama where he lived in Birmingham for a year. During that year, he started working part time at UWA through the AmeriCorps VISTA program. This program was designed to give efforts to fight poverty in low-income communities by engaging Americans in a year of full-time service. Being a part of this program and living in Birmingham meant Mast's daily commute was about two hours there and two hours back. 

"After a few weeks James Lamb, our current [Black Belt Museum] director, helped figure out housing so I could stay on campus for a few days while I worked," Mast said.

Mast portraying Albert Koch.
Mast moved to Tuscaloosa, and was hired at UWA fulltime as the public historian and educator for the Black Belt Museum. His style of teaching is a little different than most history educators. Mast likes to use his use of living history (need a definition of what this is) while working at parks public venues and in the classroom. "The response is a lot better because they're [students] more likely to talk to you and ask questions." On average Mast talks to approximately 30,000 people a year in person. He has been to many places within the state of Alabama. Some of those venues include Fort Toulouse- Jackson State Park, Alabama Wildlife Federation Nature Center in Millbrook, Fort Conde in Mobile, and Moundville Archaeological Park. Mast also goes into Mississippi and Tennessee.

He loves working with museum and helping present information about the history of the Black Belt. 

"It's cool to be able to share the things we find with the community. There are traces of dinosaurs and other prehistoric things right here in Livingston and people are eager to learn about it." 

Aside from history, Mast loves for lacrosse continues. He is a referee for the sport that he once played in college. During the summer months he travels a lot and participates in refereeing games.

Mast definitely wears many hats to say the least. However, his passion for his career keeps driving him to fulfill all of these titles that he carries. 

For more information, visit  or contact Brian Mast

Black Belt Museum Activities...

WWI Lessons & Legacies Exhibit
Community members enjoyed visiting the WWI exhibit.

The World War I :Lessons & Legacies Exhibit, was held at the Webb Hall Gallery on the UWA campus. The exhibit was created by Black Belt Museum Public Historian Brian Mast, in partnership between Smithsonian SITES, Alabama Department of Archives and History, the Black Belt Museum and UWA Department of History and Social Sciences.

The exhibit is open to the publicMonday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and is free of charge. For more information on the exhibit, contact Brian Mast at or call (205) 652-5528.

Click here to view pictures of the exhibit.  

Science Saturdays
Students learn how fossils are formed.

UWA's Science Saturdays outreach class explained and engaged students in learning how fossils are formed.
 activities were initiated in 2009. The program aims to encourage children to develop a love for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields at an early age. The program provides students in elementary, middle, and high schools in and around Sumter County, Alabama, with opportunities to experience hands-on learning activities in science. Science Saturdays activities are held three times during each Fall and Spring semester.

Faculty members from the University's College of Natural Science and Mathematics host science exploration projects through a variety of activities such as, "What Went By?" to learn how to trace animal footprints, and "Dr. Frankenstein" to learn about human anatomy. Science Saturdays activities are free of charge and are open to all children in the appropriate age groups advertised for each event. There is, however, a limit of 25 children per activity, so early registration is encouraged.

For more information on Science Saturdays, contact Black Belt Museum Director James Lamb at or call (205) 652-3725.

Click here to view more pictures of the class.

Alabama prepares for the "Alabama Counts" 2020 Census

What is Alabama Counts?
The next census of the United States will be taken in 2020. A full and accurate count is critical for Alabama's communities because many of the federal programs distribute money to the state based on statistics. An under count or drop in census numbers for Alabama will mean less funding allocated to the state and - as an extension - to your community.
The census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution.  The purpose is to conduct a census of population and housing and disseminate results to the President, the states, and the American people.  The primary uses for decennial census data are:
  • Reapportionment
  • Government Resource Allocation
  • Redistricting
  • Demographic Data
All responses to Census Bureau surveys and censuses are confidential and protected under Title 13 of the U.S. Code. Under this law, the Census Bureau is required to keep respondent information confidential. Census Bureau will never share a respondent's personal information with immigration enforcement agencies; law enforcement agencies; or allow it to be used to determine their eligibility for government benefits. The results from any census or survey are reported in statistical format only.

Why does the 2020 Census matter to Alabama?
Alabama has much at stake with the 2020 Census. Due to our state's slowed population growth, we are in danger of losing at least one of our seven congressional seats, as well as federal funding that benefits our families, children, and communities. According to the George Washington Institute of Public Policy, Alabama currently receives $1,567 per capita through census-guided programs - this funding affects everyone. Fortunately, by participating in the 2020 Census we can protect our most valuable resources, including hospitals, police and fire departments, schools, and roads and bridges.
The census is essential, which is why we must take matters into our own hands - together, we can control Alabama's future. In 2010, 72 percent of Alabamians completed the census. This will not be enough in 2020, which is why we must ensure our 2020 Census count is complete, accurate, and fair.

Click here for an information flyer.

Visit the official Alabama Counts Census 
website at

To apply for a job with the US Census, click here.

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Center for the Study of the Black Belt
Black Belt Garden
Black Belt Archives
DEWD Partners
Alabama Black Belt Heritage Area
Alabama's Black Belt:
Where the Culture is as Rich as the Land. The Alabama Black Belt Heritage Area comprises 19 counties in central and western Alabama that are working together to attain designation as a National Heritage Area.
Visit them on Facebook here .
Mark Your Calendar

 UWA Certified Nursing Assistant 
program and Certified
 Automotive Technician program now 

Click here to 
download  flyer.

ACT Work Ready Communities Report
Sumter County is a certified Work Ready Community with 93% of county goals completed. A complete report description is available at the link below. 

Click here to view the 
 ACT Work Ready Communities report.

ACT Workkeys 
ACT Workkeys Assessment Testing takes place every Friday. Upcoming dates are July 12, 19 and 26.  For more information, contact Director of Econ omic Developmen t Allison Brantley to register at  abrantley@uw   or call 205-652-3 618.

Alabama Bicentennial Updates

Stay up to date on statewide educational news, discover diverse resources for teachers and administrators, and be featured as a 
Spotlight School by actively participating in the Alabama bicentennial celebration.

For more information, 
click here.

UWA Division of Economic and Workforce Development |