A note from Nation
Welcome to Awake58 – EdNC’s newsletter focused on community colleges and the post-secondary landscape in North Carolina. We appreciate you allowing us in your inbox every week. If you received this email without a subscription, please click here to sign up for this newsletter† If you missed last week’s edition of Awake58, find it here†
We examine how some community colleges support veterans, who make up 5% of the nation’s student population, as well as LGBTQ+ students… The White House Initiative to Promote Educational Equality, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity Through HBCUs visited North Carolina last week
Last week Emily Thomas and I headed out to visit Alexander, Burke, Caldwell and Catawba counties, along with a team from Blue Cross and Blue Shield from North Carolina. We visited Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute and Western Piedmont Community College on Thursday we had a community dinner that night, and on Friday we spent time with the Catawba Valley Community College team that visits multiple spots in their service area.
The importance of collaboration for community colleges was a common thread in the visits. We met industry partners, local government leaders and students who spoke about the importance of community colleges in meeting the current needs of their communities as well as laying the foundation for the future of the region.
Emily and I would like to express our thanks to each of the colleges for hosting us. We both grew up in the Unifour area and it was lovely to be home for a while. Stay tuned for more from our visit.
We published two pieces in the past week that look at resources and support community colleges across the state that offer to serve both LGBTQ+ students and veterans. Marbeth Holmes, Dean of Student Success at Nash Community Collegeoffered a statement in the LGBTQ+ guide that could serve as an important message for university leaders considering how to serve each student: “Students will not succeed academically in an environment where they do not feel accepted, exalted and supported. That is our primary goal: that students are successful. And that Nash is an accepting, validating, supportive higher education institution.”
Hannah McClellan’s veteran-focused piece addressed the importance of institutions that serve the veteran population well: “Nearly 5% of public community college students are veterans, according to one 2019 Report from the American Association of Community Colleges† Military veterans are more likely to complete post-secondary programs than their non-veterans, Found a 2018 report from Veterans Education Successbut it usually takes longer to do that.”
As we discuss student support, we’re also curious about the work underway from both our communities and our community colleges on transportation in rural communities. We know that transportation problems (ranging from cars breaking down for our students to a lack of public transportation) often hinder students. If you are aware of innovative efforts in our regional communities, please let us know by replying directly to this email.
Thanks for reading Awak58 this week! We will pause the newsletter for a summer break in July. Our team will be reporting live from the State Board of Community Colleges meeting in July, and you can watch their reporting on Twitter at @Awake58NC and via our website at EdNC.org† I hope you all have a great summer.
I see you on the road
Head of Growth — EdNC.org
North Carolina has a rich military history. We have numerous military installations and a large population of both active and retired military personnel. Because both community colleges and four-year colleges work to better serve adult students, we published a piece last week looking at what a few community colleges are doing to specifically serve veterans.
As Hannah’s piece noted, 5% of community college students nationally are veterans. The data also shows that they tend to complete at a higher level than non-veterans. Hannah spoke to several university leaders about the differences in serving this population:
“Your veteran and military-affiliated students tend to retain better and they graduate faster. So they are really strong students,” said Servi-Roberts, director of Veterans Upward Bound and Military Affiliated Initiatives. “Sometimes when the other students in the class aren’t so focused, or don’t take it so seriously or respect authority, it can be distracting or frustrating.
“And then just the transition from military life where everything is very planned and now you’re making decisions about how your time is allocated — it can be challenging to adapt to that,” she added. “Just being in a class where you don’t feel like someone really shares the same life experiences as you are is also a challenge.”
Managing transitions, educating staff, and communicating regularly about additional resources for veterans were some of the bright spots Hannah’s reporting identified. Give the full piece a lecture by clicking here†
In recent years, higher education institutions across the country have begun to embrace the need to provide additional support and resources to LGBTQ+ students. My colleague Hannah’s piece sets the tone for why this is important, while also showing what some community colleges have implemented:
Many LGBTQ+ people, but especially young people, struggle with mental health due to discrimination or lack of support. But LGBTQ+ youth ages 13-24 report significantly lower suicide attempts when their school or community accepts LGBTQ+ people, according to the Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health†
Community colleges in North Carolina are increasingly working to provide specific support to LGBTQ+ students and educators. Many campuses provide training, assistance to LGBTQ+ students, and promote on-campus LGBTQ+ affinity clubs and spaces.
Bee Nash Community Collegethe schools Student program Culture of Blue Love is a big part of caring for all students, said Marbeth Holmes, the university’s dean of student success. Launched in 2014, the program provides assistance to students as well as a variety of wellness and academic assistance programs. The university’s student wellness center provides specific resources for LGBTQ+ students, Holmes said. The entire college success network team completes the Safe Zone training. Such training introduces participants to topics such as sexual orientation and gender identity. People who complete the program will receive a placard or pin that visibly identifies them as allies.
Her piece discusses training and support offered by the system bureau, campus-based targeted training, student affinity groups, and more.
Adam Wade, Director of Admissions at Central Carolina Community Collegeexplained his perspective on the importance of this work:
“In a time where everyone is concerned about our registration and if we want to ensure that we educate students to enter career opportunities in our communities, shouldn’t we consider how we support every student who comes in our door?” he said. “When we think about the why and the rationale behind a Safe Zone program, or LGBTQ support, we want to create that sense of belonging: you belong here, we support you, and we want you to be successful.”
For Hannah’s article, click here† We’d love to learn more about your local college’s work supporting LGBTQ+ students. Do not hesitate to answer this email directly with your lessons.
The White House Initiative for Promoting Educational Equality, Excellence and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities visited several members of the NC10 last week, including Bennett College and North Carolina Central University.
The NC10 represents the 10 HBCU institutions in North Carolina. Here’s a look at the process of building the NC10 coalition:
While the NC10 share a common heritage, the public and private institutions are small and large, rural and urban, religious and secular, independently established and land allotted.
A little over a year ago, BELIEF, led by (James) Ford — along with the Hunt Institute† myFutureNCand EducationNC — engaging the HBCUs individually and collectively to listen to them and assess future challenges and opportunities.
This one report“Fertile Soil: The Stories of North Carolina’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” documents the history of each of the 10 to the present day.
From April to August 2021, all 10 HBCUs conducted on-site campus visits. Ten areas of focus emerged: institutional assets, opportunities, faculty and staff, governance structure, infrastructure, student population and experiences, evaluation and statistics, COVID-19, funding, and structural racism. Following the visits, these recommendations were published by CREED.
For Mebane Rash’s full description of the visit, click here†
This tour followed a report by WUNC about North Carolina’s HBCUs offering free summer classes to help their students. For more details, click here†
Other higher education reads
US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh recently testified about the potential around apprenticeships and the workforce. An important passage: “The upheaval in the workforce caused by the Covid pandemic and subsequent challenges is an opportunity to upskill or teach workers skills needed for a new career path, Walsh said at a House hearing on Tuesday. Education and Labor Committee. The Biden administration considers registered apprenticeships and prior education an important part of its workforce development strategy, he said, noting that the president’s budget request for fiscal year 2023 calls for $303 million for apprenticeships.