Targeted assistance for veterans and LGBTQ community college students.
A word of Nation
Welcome to Awake58 – EdNC’s newsletter focused on community colleges and the post-secondary landscape in North Carolina. We appreciate you allowing us into your inbox every week. If you received this email without a subscription, please click here to subscribe to this newsletter. If you missed last week’s edition of Awake58, find it here.
We explore how some community colleges support veterans, who make up 5% of the student population nationally, as well as LGBTQ+ students…
Last week, Emily Thomas and I hit the road to visit Alexander, Burke, Caldwell and Catawba counties alongside a Blue Cross and Blue Shield team from North Carolina. Thursday we visited Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute and Western Piedmont Community College, hosted a community dinner that evening, and Friday we spent time with the Catawba Valley Community College team visiting several locations around their service area.
The importance of collaboration for community colleges was a common theme of the visits. We met with industry partners, local government leaders and students who spoke about the importance of community colleges in meeting both the current needs of their community and in laying the foundation for the future of region.
Emily and I would like to express our gratitude to each of the colleges for hosting us. We both grew up in the Unifour area, and it was great to be home for a while. Stay tuned for more on our tour.
We published two articles last week that examine the resources and supports that community colleges across the state offer to serve both LGBTQ+ students and veterans. Marbeth Holmes, dean of student success at Nash Community College, offered a statement in the LGBTQ+ guide that could serve as an important message to college leaders considering serving. any student: “Students will not succeed academically in an environment where they do not feel accepted, valued and supported. This is our main objective: that students succeed. And for Nash to be an accepting, validating, and supporting institution of higher learning.
Hannah McClellan’s veteran-focused article emphasized the importance of institutions serving the veteran population well: “Almost 5% of students at public community colleges are veterans, according to a American Association of Community Colleges 2019 Report. Military veterans are more likely to complete post-secondary programs than their non-veteran peers, a 2018 report from Veterans Education Success foundbut tend to take longer to do so.
You can find the LGBTQ+ piece here. You’ll find the veteran-focused piece here.
As we discuss student supports, we are also curious about the work being done in our communities and community colleges around transportation in rural communities. We know that transportation issues (ranging from broken cars for our students to lack of public transportation) are often barriers for students. If you are aware of any innovative efforts underway in our regional communities, please let us know by responding directly to this email.
Thanks for reading Awake58 this week! We will be pausing the newsletter for a summer break in July. Our team will be reporting live from the State Board of Community Colleges July meeting, and you can access their reports via Twitter at @Awake58NC and through our website at EdNC.org. I hope you are all having a great summer.
I’ll see you on the road,
Head of Growth — EdNC.org
Helping Veterans Succeed at North Carolina Community Colleges
North Carolina has a rich military history. We have many military installations and a large serving and retired military population. As community colleges and four-year colleges strive to better serve adult learners, we published an article last week about what a few community colleges are doing to specifically serve veterans.
As Hannah’s article noted, 5% of community college students nationwide are veterans. The data also shows that they tend to complete their education at a higher level than non-veterans. Hannah spoke with several university leaders about the differences in serving this population:
“Your veteran and military-affiliated students generally retain better and graduate at higher rates. So they’re really good students,” said Servi-Roberts, director of Veterans Up and Military Affiliate Initiatives. “Sometimes when other students in the class aren’t as focused, or don’t take it seriously or respect authority, it can be distracting or frustrating.
“And then just the transition from military life, where everything is very scheduled and now you make decisions about how your time is allocated – adjusting to that can be difficult,” she added. “Just being in a class where you don’t feel like anyone really shares the same life experiences as you is also a challenge.”
Managing transitions, staff training, and frequent communication about additional resources being provided to veterans were among the positives identified by Hannah’s reports. Read the full article by clicking here.
“You Belong Here”: North Carolina Community Colleges Bolster LGBTQ+ Resources
In recent years, higher education institutions across the country have begun to understand the need to provide additional supports and resources to LGBTQ+ students. My colleague Hannah’s article sets the tone for why this matters, while also showing what some community colleges have implemented:
Many LGBTQ+ people, but young people in particular, struggle with mental health issues due to discrimination or a lack of support. But LGBTQ+ youth ages 13 to 24 report significantly lower rates of suicide attempts when their school or community is LGBTQ+-friendly, according to the The Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey of LGBTQ Youth Mental Health.
Community colleges in North Carolina are increasingly working to provide specific support for LGBTQ+ students and faculty. Many campuses provide training, support for LGBTQ+ students, and promote LGBTQ+ affinity clubs and spaces on campus.
At Nash Community College, the school’s Culture of Blue Love student program is a big part of supporting all students, said Marbeth Holmes, the college’s dean of student success. Launched in 2014, the program offers student support, as well as a variety of wellness and academic support programs. The college’s Student Wellness Center provides resources specific to LGBTQ+ students, Holmes said. The entire College Success Network team takes Safe Zone training. Such training introduces participants to topics such as sexual orientation and gender identity. People who complete the program receive a sign or pin that visibly identifies them as allies.
Her article examines training and supports offered by the system office, targeted campus-by-campus training, student affinity groups, and more.
Adam Wade, Director of Admissions at Central Carolina Community College, explained his perspective on the importance of this work:
“At a time when everyone is concerned about our enrollment and wants to make sure we are educating students to enter career streams in our communities, shouldn’t we think about how we support every student who crosses our door?” he said. “As we think about the why and reasoning behind a Safe Zone program, or LGBTQ supports, it’s about creating that sense of belonging: you belong here, we’ve got your back, and we want you to succeed.”
For Hannah’s article, click here. We would like to know more about your local college’s work on behalf of LGBTQ+ students. Feel free to reply directly to this email with your courses.
White House HBCU Initiative Visits NC10
The White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities visited several NC10 members last week, including Bennett College and North Carolina Central University.
The NC10 represents the 10 HBCU institutions in North Carolina. Here is an overview of the process of creating the NC10 coalition:
While the NC10 shares a common heritage, public and private institutions are small and large, rural and urban, religious and secular, independently established and licensed.
A little over a year ago, CREED, under the direction of (James) Ford – with the hunting institute, myFutureNCand EducationNC – engaged HBCUs individually and collectively to listen and assess the challenges and opportunities ahead.
This report“Fertile Ground: 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, on-site campus visits took place at all 10 HBCUs. Ten points of interest emerged: Institutional Assets, Windows of Opportunity, Faculty and Staff, Governance Structure, Infrastructure, Student Population and Experiences, Assessment and Metrics, COVID-19, Funding, and Structural Racism. Following the visits, these recommendations were issued by CREED.
For the full account of Mebane Rash’s visit, click here.
This tour followed a report by WUNC regarding HBCUs in North Carolina offering free summer schools to help their students. For more details, Click here.
Around North Carolina
Other higher education reading
US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh recently testified to the potential of learning and the workforce. A key passage: “The dislocation of the workforce caused by the Covid pandemic and the challenges that arise from it are an opportunity to hone or teach workers the skills necessary for a new career path, Walsh said. during a House Education and Labor Committee hearing on Tuesday. The Biden administration views registered apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships as a key part of its workforce development strategy, he said, noting that the president’s budget request for fiscal year 2023 is asking for $303 million for apprenticeships.