Recently, an interested panel of individuals asked me to describe Nash Community College’s role as a member of North Carolina’s 58 Community College System and how the President influences the local institution. As simple as this sounds, it is more difficult to do than one might think.
Immediately, many programs, people and students come to mind. Where does one start? I have often said “no one program is more important than any other.” All students deserve the same level of commitment of resources, services, and dedicated faculty.
This report is an attempt to help tell the Nash Community College story over a twelve-month time frame. As I think back over some of the class visits, I cannot help but think about an ESL (English as a Second Language) class that included me in their holiday celebration. It was particularly moving due to the fact the class wanted to be included in the “50 Trees” celebrating “50 Years” of the College’s existence. As the food was shared, a student representative gave me a small brown bag. I looked in the bag. The contents included coins and paper money. Then, I looked at their smiling faces filled with pride. I have to say, this touched me especially given the time of the year. These students wanted to give back to a place that had helped them. Of course, I thanked them but fought back a little emotion as I expressed my appreciation.
Just a few years ago, I met with Marbeth Holmes to discuss a concept of a Wellness Center. She asked me a fundamental question, “Can Nash do more for students”? This was not a question of class support, tutoring, etc. This was a question of supporting non-academic issues. The answer is enveloped in a moral obligation to those we serve. Today, with the help of the Belk Foundation, the Wellness Center has become a full-blown Single Stop site. Student services include minority male mentoring, SNAP assistance, support counseling, tax preparation and help with forms of addiction. Marbeth, and her team, have leveraged over $3.5 million dollars of assistance fighting the effects of poverty and keeping students needing a little help on track to graduate.
Do I stop with anecdotal stories about class visits and doing the right thing for students? Of course not. The College takes professional enrichment seriously and quite frankly puts a great deal of resources toward various efforts. Some faculty members want it to be specific and content driven. I couldn’t agree more; however, as precious as resources are, we could not afford a hodge-podge approach. So I doubled down on SkillsUSA providing specific and program content associated with preparing students at a high level. SkillsUSA allows students to tell their story and demonstrate what they have learned in an applied setting. SkillsUSA principles are grounded in integrity, work ethic, professionalism and responsibility. Participation also instills a source of pride that goes beyond the classroom extending the college experience while polishing the individual’s resume.
Nash Community College does not conduct its mission necessarily for special recognition, plaques or certificates. Those are byproducts of doing a job right. However, the College does invest in new programs to meet challenges of a competitive global economy. The Associate in Engineering, one of the newest programs, is realizing their first graduates in 2018. These “home grown” engineers are impressive and will prove the doubters wrong. This program was a long time in the making and there were some who didn’t think that rural colleges could accomplish the task. Well, look at us now. By the way, for those that are interested, community colleges are the major portal for non-traditional students in STEM careers.
I’m not sure the President’s real influence can be accurately measured. It is more likely a combination of an entrepreneurial analysis that creates a can-do atmosphere. This formula, with the help of the finest faculty and staff, produces a learning environment that welcomes students and reflects a true commitment by dedicated professionals.
Hopefully you’re now intrigued to check us out. If you do, you will find out why so many students proudly say, “I Chose Nash!”
William S. Carver, II, Ed.D.