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A conversation with a new president

This is a copy of the Awake58 newsletter originally sent on Tuesday, October 8, 2019. Click here to subscribe.

The budget process might jumpstart this week… We are holding our first student town hall… the FAFSA application process is now open, and we would love for you to spread the word… We caught up with Dr. Shelley White who was just named president of Haywood Community College…

This morning I am heading to Alamance Community College. We will start the day by meeting with the college leadership, touring their partners at Fairystone Fabrics to better understand the Career Accelerator Program, and meeting with students who have utilized the Finish Line Grants program. Follow along on Twitter for more!

My colleagues Analisa, Jordan, and Alli are also hosting our first student town hall at Forsyth Tech today. We are excited to kick off the process. If your college is interested in hosting a town hall, send me a note.

Be sure to check out my interview with Dr. Shelley White below. We are trying something new this week and focusing on this interview in addition to sharing EdNC articles. We are continuing to monitor leadership transitions across the state.

Last week, we checked in on where things stand with the budget process. We are hearing that you may see some movement this week. Stay tuned for our coverage.

I’ll see you out on the road,


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EdNC reads

You need to fill out the FAFSA. Here’s how.

Every student pursuing education after high school should fill out the FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA isn’t one single loan or grant — it’s an application that, when completed, gauges how much help students will likely need to pay for college and connects them with resources. We would love for you to forward this link to prospective students.

What are career coaches? And why do they matter so much to community colleges?

As the community college system struggles with enrollment, career coaches are vital in helping students see community college as a viable choice and not just the second option after four-year universities, community college leaders say. But why exactly does the work of a career coach matter? Check out the article for more.

Bright Spots: Alamance Career Accelerator Program

Today, we are touring the Career Accelerator Program at Alamance Community College. Stay tuned for more, but I would encourage you to check out this feature. The program is a four-year apprenticeship program aimed at addressing immediate needs for skilled workers and a long-term need for industry leadership. Ten partner companies, Alamance Community College, the local K-12 district, and others collaborate to make the model work.

Interview with the next president of Haywood Community College

Dr. Shelley White, the  vice president of economic and workforce development and continuing education at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, was named president of Haywood Community College recently. 

Tell us a little about your career to date. What elements of your career, in particular, do you believe prepared you for the presidency?

I started with A-B Tech in 2001 as an adjunct instructor while I was a graduate student in Human Resources at Western Carolina University. I also taught as an adjunct at Haywood Community College. I believe this time working as an adjunct, juggling multiple program areas at two colleges, helps me to identify with the unique issues faced by our faculty. I took on different roles over time, serving as Executive Director of Occupational Training and Senior Executive Director of Economic & Workforce Development/Continuing Education, before assuming the role of Vice President in 2014. Both the leadership development and experiences gained from these roles have prepared me for the role of president. I have learned the importance of understanding the fine details of an issue, while seeing the larger picture and impact of decisions. It will be important to bring both of those perspectives to the presidency.

What particular lessons will you take with you to Haywood from Dr. King and A-B Tech?

The most important lesson I will take with me to Haywood from Dr. King is that we must strive every day to be a welcoming college. This is at the heart of our mission and includes being welcoming to students, their families, our employees, community, and businesses. The most important lesson I will carry with me from A-B Tech is our dedication to student success and the guiding principles of respect, integrity, and support for everyone. When making decisions, it is important to use the lens of the student first by asking, “How will this decision impact our students?”

What do you see as the greatest opportunities and challenges for a college like Haywood Community College?

I am excited to see the growth that’s happening at Haywood, with the construction of a new health sciences building and the launch this year of the tuition-free guarantee program for recent graduates being two examples. As a long-time resident of Haywood County, I have seen how well HCC connects with the community in so many ways, and I am honored to join this college family. As far as challenges, I know that we, like all community colleges, will keep a close eye on the budget discussion and legislative decisions that impact our students and operations.

Tell us a little bit about your priorities in your first 100 days as president? 

In my first 100 days as president of Haywood Community College, my top priorities will be to listen and learn. It is important for me to visit areas all across campus and off-site locations, meeting employees and students, as well as getting to know community stakeholders. I am excited about 2020, the start of a new year and a new decade, and all the great work we will do together for our students and community!

Around North Carolina

From the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation:

“The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR) is now accepting applications for its Community Progress Fund… ZSR’s Community Progress Fund seeks to support local communities by making time-limited investments at key moments and is intended to build on existing momentum to help move an issue, idea or organization forward.

 The Progress Fund allows communities to test ideas, expand promising efforts or achieve greater impact. ZSR hopes that engaging with community members through the Progress Fund grant cycle will allow the Foundation to support communities and better understand how different communities experience change, opportunity and challenges in unique ways. Thus, the parameters for this approach are intentionally broad. In addition, ZSR desires to be accessible to areas of the state that have relatively higher needs and fewer resources, and to support and learn from those communities as described above. Consequently, preference will be given to those areas of the state.

ZSR will begin accepting Letters of Intent (LOIs) on October 1, 2019. ZSR will review LOIs and contact select applicants who will move to the next phase of the process. This includes ZSR staff scheduling visits in these communities in Spring 2020 to learn more about their proposals. Grant decisions will be made in May 2020. The grant period for grants awarded will begin in July 2020. 

For more information about ZSR’s Community Progress Fund, including eligibility criteria and how to apply, visit: The deadline to apply for a Progress Fund grant is December 3, 2019 at 12:00 p.m. (noon).”

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Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.