Low income Monroe County residents 18 and older with a high school diploma or G.E.D. are eligible to apply for an aerospace career scholarship through Huntsville, Ala.-based Alliance for Opportunity and Development (AOD).

"We thought it would give someone a chance to improve as individual by moving from minimum wage to two or three times minimum wage and hopefully help economic development countywide," said Lt. Col. Jeff Coggin, AOD board member of Aberdeen High School JROTC instructor.

Coggin would like to develop an aerospace culture locally that would hopefully attract potential industry downrange similar to the military contractors in Lowndes County.

"JROTC is the lead agent for education in aerospace here and there's so much more room for growth. If we could just get air-minded individuals looking to the sky," Coggin said.

The initial scholarship is valued at as much as $1,000 and can be used for tuition, books and school fees. The scholarship can be used for a number of technical and technology-based degrees or certificates at Itawamba Community College or East Mississippi Community College.

The initial aerospace scholarship will serve one local student and Coggin hopes AOD can fund scholarships for additional students in the future.

Since forming in January 2012, AOD has awarded three scholarships in Alabama and its first scholarship recipient received an associate's degree in August in drafting.

"Our niche is vocational and technical training. With a lot of those jobs, you can get employed quickly and they pay well. Our goal is to pump out someone in two years or less to participate in the economy and have a career," said AOD Executive Director Gary Mathis.

The deadline to submit applications for the AOD scholarship is Nov. 11 with selection completed on Dec. 2 and applicants notified on Dec. 5.

For more information on the scholarship, (334) 663-2753 or (256) 541-3765.

AOD is a Christian, nonprofit organization that provides education and training opportunities to low income families. For more information, go to www.aod-alabama.org.

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