PEARL ― Three of Mississippi’s top-performing career and technical education students received student of the year awards from the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation. The annual recognition celebrates the top-achieving career and technical education students from MCEF’s three districts and includes a $500 cash prize.

Recipients were northern district winner Aidan Wilburn, a welding student at the Tishomingo County Career and Technical Center; central district winner Jaylen Whitt, a construction student at the Pearl/Rankin Career and Technical Center; and southern district winner Braxton Slay, a carpentry student at George County High School.

“We congratulate Aidan, Jaylen and Braxton for earning student of the year awards and for being excellent representatives of high school career tech programs in Mississippi,” said Brent Bean, MCEF president. “We’re proud of all of our students of the year and students of the month for helping ensure that Mississippi has a highly skilled workforce to support the state’s growing construction and manufacturing industries.”

Student of the year winners were selected from a field of 21 students of the month for 2022-23. Instructor nominations for student of the month are based on grades, attendance, class discipline, outstanding achievements, leadership abilities and post-graduation plans.

Other finalists were Joseph Robinson and Ira Thomas Jr., Claiborne County Career Tech Center; Kevin Cruz, Savannah Hardy, Sawyer Johnson and Jar’ Dan Sanders, Philadelphia-Neshoba County Career Tech Center; Keith Byars, Amory Career and Technical Center; Aiyana House, Benton County Career Center; Ladaija Phillips, Joe Barnes Career Technical Center; Tanner Busby, David Taylor and Riley Turner, Senatobia-Tate Career Technical Center; Ava King and Dreyhlan Thomas, Franklin County CTE Center; Alex Hernandez, Greene County Vocational Technical Center; Hudson Bryant, Jones County Career Tech Center; and Gage Kauzlarich and Dawson Martinez, Pearl River Central CTE Center.

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