Jorrie Reed

Malcolm X College mortuary science student Jorrie Reed keeps taking chances—and they keep paying off.

Before the pandemic, Jorrie earned her bachelor’s degree in corporate and organizational communication. She also worked as a senior bridal consultant, was the reigning Miss Plus America 2014, and had a passion for the beauty and fashion industries. But when many of those industries took a hit during COVID, Jorrie started to look into other fields.

Her sister, who is a licensed mortician and embalmer, told Jorrie that many funeral homes were overwhelmed during the pandemic and needed extra office help. Jorrie began working in the office at one funeral home, which sparked a new interest.

Next, Jorrie began looking for an affordable mortuary science program that would allow her to still work but also go to school. Malcolm X College was the only one Jorrie found that gave her the option to take night classes. Plus, it was half the price of some of the other schools she researched.

“Choosing Malcolm X was a no-brainer,” Jorrie said.

She’s now in her second year of the mortuary science program. Jorrie works full-time during the day and is a full-time student at night. Her courses are flexible: both online and in person. And as a non-traditional student, Jorrie says her Malcolm X journey has been fantastic. She’s getting hands-on experience in her future field, and many of her teachers are Malcolm X graduates, too. She especially loves being a part of a cohort, as it allows her to develop relationships with her classmates.

“There’s a feeling of belonging in my classes… there’s camaraderie,” she said.

Jorrie and her classmates are able to use their instructors as resources. Many of them are industry professionals who not only share knowledge but provide students with networking opportunities.

Through the program, she’s also had the chance to attend the National Funeral Director and Mortician’s Association Convention. While mostly industry professionals attend, Jorrie went as a student to learn—and it paid off. During her time there, she applied to the 100 Black Women in Funeral Service scholarship, and she won. Only five students from across the country were chosen to receive the award.

“Being one of just five recipients was such an honor,” she said. “And to have it published in a nice news article among industry professionals, that was just an added bonus.”

After graduation, Jorrie plans to sit for the national board exam and complete an apprenticeship at a funeral home. She wants to learn all aspects of the funeral industry, from paperwork and embalming bodies, to sitting with families and conducting funeral services.

Whatever Jorrie does, she believes her Malcolm X education is setting her up for success. She’s also not ruling out returning to Malcolm X as a mortuary science instructor herself one day.