GREENWOOD, Miss. (AP) — Sean Savory says he saw an opportunity to better himself, and he took it.

Savory is one of six Greenwood School District parents who graduated from a program that certified each to become a medical administrative office assistant.

"Being a parent, unemployed, when you see an opportunity like that, and it is something that you want to do, you've got to take that advantage," Savory said.

The program is underwritten by Second Chance Mississippi, a nonprofit founded by former attorneys Richard Scruggs and his son, Zach Scruggs.

The Oxford-based education organization last year awarded $100,000 to a pre-kindergarten collaborative that partners the Greenwood School District and Mississippi Action for Progress.

Half of the money is to be used to help the children's parents or other caregivers, if they are unemployed or underemployed, earn their GED diploma or vocational certification in a marketable field.

The donation from Second Chance Mississippi covers tuition, books, child care and transportation for the adult students.

Graduate and parent Lesa Brown said she had always wanted to pursue a career in the medical field but had trouble finding the right opportunity.

"When my little boy started going to pre-K, they started sending fliers home about the classes," Brown said. She saw the offer as her chance.

Brown hopes to continue her education, become a licensed practical nurse and eventually open up her own family care clinic to help people who can't afford insurance, she said.

She said at first she didn't think she was going to be able to do the class, but her teacher, Iris King, "wouldn't let us give up."

Savory said King pushed her students inside and outside the classroom to finish the class.

"When you got people like that who push and motivate you, you have got to do it," he said.

The 15-week class — held three days a week — taught the parents about billing and coding, telephone techniques, the roles of different medical occupations and other areas such as patient privacy.

Before being accepted into the class, each parent was required to take the ACT Work Readiness Exam, which is a workplace skills test, and earn at least a silver certificate, the third highest. They also had to be high school graduates.

The occupation of a medical administrative assistant was selected by the parents from a list of workforce course offered by Mississippi Delta Community College.

At the end of the class, all students were required to take a two-hour licensing exam to earn their certificate as a medical administrative assistant.

Savory said he will pursue a career in the medical field because people and quality of life are important to him.

Graduate Jasmine West agreed and said she wants to further her education and become a registered nurse. West had the highest average in the class, a 98. She said enjoyed competing with Savory.

"Just about everything we did was a competition. It was fun," West said. "It was worth it."

The graduates extended their thanks to Dr. Jennifer Wilson, superintendent of the district, for giving them to the opportunity, and recommend other parents follow in their footsteps.

"It is an opportunity and a chance to enhance your own life as well as your child's and everything else, so don't sleep on it," Savory said.

Wilson said they will be offering the program again next year and will provide information to parents during registration in August.