AHOSKIE – Two years after a difficult period in its 54-year history, Roanoke-Chowan Community College has rebounded to the point where its enrollment is the best in the state.
In the summer of 2019, the board of directors of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) voted to place R-CCC on probation after school officials failed to comply with several of the basic requirements of the Association.
Now with a new leader, the college is bursting with enrollments, new course offerings, and newly-christened satellite learning centers.
Last week, R-CCC President Dr Murray J. Williams, who was hired in March of this year, was joined by several members of her team who facilitated “collegial and community conversations” on campus. principal of the college in Union.
“We change lives through education,” said Dr Williams during the meeting held in the main auditorium. “Through a variety of diploma and certificate programs, as well as continuing education and career preparation courses, we prepare students for the job market, public service and / or to university transfer. “
This student body includes high school students who have a head start in their post-secondary education. Williams noted that over the past five years, R-CCC has awarded nearly 400 diplomas and associate certificates to these high school students.
During the same period, she said the R-CCC has trained over 14,000 people for the workforce in areas such as allied health, law enforcement, fire / rescue, EMS, professional services and personalized training. The R-CCC Small Business Center has 10 new start-ups in five years.
This has resulted in an increase in registrations.
“From last fall to this fall, we saw substantial growth in our registrations,” noted Dr. Williams. “In our study programs, enrollment has increased by 25%. In continuing education, registrations are up 154%. In college and vocational preparation programs, enrollment has increased by more than 365 percent.
“Total college enrollment is up 53% from last fall. The largest increase among the 58 community colleges in the state, ”she added.
R-CCC has received two grants from the Golden Leaf Foundation.
“These grants are helping R-CCC expand its presence in Northampton and Bertie counties,” Dr. Williams said of the combined funding of $ 778,000.
In Bertie County, R-CCC has expanded to the Lewiston-Woodville Education Vitality Center. R-CCC has also partnered with the new Northampton Career & Technical Academy of Innovation, located on the campus of the former Northampton High School-East near Creeksville.
Murray said that some of the programs that should be offered by these educational partners include commercial truck driving, CVC, Allied Health, and some of the college and career preparation courses.
“Our data currently shows a substantial need for paramedics,” noted Dr Murray. “We are expanding the faculty in our nursing program as well as other allied health programs to meet this need. Currently, there are over 400 jobs available in our service area for registered nurses as well as other healthcare professionals.
While building partnerships between school systems and local businesses remains the primary goal of R-CCC, so do other building blocks. As examples, Murray cited community partners such as local religious leaders and the formation of program advisory boards. She said the partnerships forged with local churches have enabled them to open spaces to organize educational classes and provide transportation for R-CCC students.
As for advisory boards, said Murray, “we are not developing programs in a vacuum, we need to have input from our business and industry partners to help meet their needs.”
Murray praised the efforts of R-CCC faculty, staff and board.
Meanwhile, R-CCC also realizes the needs of its students outside of the classroom.
“Our faculty and staff have developed a pantry and clothes closet so that our students have food to eat and clothes to wear,” said Dr Murray. “Our students are our top priority. Sometimes they come to us hungry and homeless, or need transportation to attend classes. We must be able to meet these needs.
Other priorities, she said, include providing world-class labs for high-demand career programs and retaining qualified preparations for R-CCC re-accreditation, which is slated for June 2023.
She concluded by saying that R-CCC is a key driver of the local economy. A recent state report showed the college has an impact of $ 41.1 million on its service area.
“We are valuable because we provide a talent pool to our local businesses and industry,” said Dr Murray. “The education our students receive here allows them to earn higher wages in the workplace. We also added value because a good education leads to lower crime rates and lower unemployment rates. “
As part of last week’s college program, two R-CCC students shared their educational success stories.
Sterling Levine, from New Jersey, said he got to know the Roanoke-Chowan area by accompanying his parents on their summer trips to visit family members living in Gates County.
“It was such a nice place here that I decided to move,” said Levine. “I chose to go to RCCC to fulfill my dream of helping people; I signed up for the nursing program. It is vital work, a work where you can make a positive difference in people’s lives. This school welcomed me with open arms. There is no place I would rather be other than R-CCC.
Kayla Wiggins experiences R-CCC as a junior enrolled at Hertford County Early College High School, where she earns high school and college credits through dual enrollment.
“I am currently enrolled in courses where I can earn an Associate of Science degree and CNA certificate with the intention of enrolling in nursing school after I graduate from ‘high school education,’ Wiggins said. “I’ll be able to do it in four years.
Wiggins added that the staff at Early College High School and R-CCC are very helpful.
“I feel good here,” she said. “As a student here, I became a more responsible person, learning to manage my time better and communicate better with my teachers and peers. “
Teikeshia Archer, Business and Professional / Industrial Technology Division Director, and Jamie Burns, Allied Health Program Director also took part in the event and presented highlights of their roles at R-CCC.
Archer explained how the college has partnered with many local businesses, enabling workplace learning experiences for R-CCC students.
“Our students receive hands-on training with our business partners,” said Archer, citing Roanoke Electric, Berry Plastics, Soundside Group and Thermo Fisher as examples.
She added that R-CCC has certified Chowan University employees in a refrigerant class so they can repair and maintain equipment on their campus. With Perdue, R-CCC trains employees to configure and troubleshoot program logic controls.
“We have many student success stories to share. We change lives by learning at R-CCC, ”said Archer. “It’s not just a lot of talk and not just a lot of logos… we’re making a difference. “
Archer touted the partnerships between high schools and schools in Hertford County, as well as the Northampton Career & Technical Academy of Innovation, which will soon open.
Burns said that during his time at R-CCC, Allied Health went from one to nine courses. These offerings now include Nurse Aid I, Nurse Aid II, Diet Management, Community Health Worker, ECG Tech, Pharmacy Tech, Phlebotomy, Medical Billing and Coding, and Medication Assistance. Another new course – Medical Assisting – will start in the spring semester 2022.
“We have expanded our course offering to meet the growing demand for multi-skilled healthcare workers here in our region,” Burns noted. “All of our courses have a high registration rate. “
Meanwhile, R-CCC is partnering with local healthcare providers including Vidant, Roanoke-Chowan Community Health, Accordius Health, Aulander Medical Practice, and Rich Square Nursing & Rehab. R-CCC Allied Health is also partnering with local school systems in Hertford, Bertie and Northampton counties to deliver the Nurse Aid program.
“This program is a path to our nursing program here,” Burns noted, adding that many graduates of this program are employed locally while a few others are now teaching the next generation of nurses.
She added that for the first time this semester, 15 R-CCC Allied Health students have been awarded the State Employees Credit Union Scholarship. Other scholarship opportunities are available through Golden Leaf, Project Skill-Up, and GEAR.
“That’s what we do here at R-CCC; we prepare students for careers through quality education. Over the past 20 years, Allied Health has established deep-rooted community partnerships that meet the needs of employers as R-CCC continues to develop these programs to meet future needs, ”Burns concluded.
After a lunch break, tours of the R-CCC campus were organized. At the tour stops, information / demonstrations were provided by Carol Anne Hankinson at the Learning Resources Center, Keith Horne at Advanced Manufacturing, and Michelle Warren and Will Blanchard at the Nursing Program and EMS Program.