OXFORD, Miss. — A Grenada woman is the first person to earn a degree under a new Mississippi program aimed at helping people finish college.

Debra Harris earned a bachelor’s degree in general studies from the University of Mississippi in August.

The university says Harris first began studies in 1977, then resumed classes in 1996, but didn’t finish either time.

Harris applied to the state’s Complete 2 Compete website, expecting to hear that she needed more classes. But she was soon told she was already eligible for a diploma.

Harris hopes to teach adult literacy.

State officials say records show more than 2,400 former students have enough credits for a bachelor’s degree without additional courses. An additional 28,000 students already qualify for an associate’s degree. They’re among 158,000 people targeted by the program.

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