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Awake58: From community college student to president

This is a copy of the Awake58 newsletter originally sent on Tuesday, February 19, 2019. Click here to subscribe. 

From community college student to president

Welcome to Awake58! Have your friends signed up? Send them this link.

The myFutureNC Commission releases their statewide attainment goal and other important measures tomorrow… The legislature is considering bills related to calendar flexibility, the ability for Tri-State Community College to offer in-state tuition to residents of border counties, and more…  Check out our interview with Dr. Janet Spriggs regarding her first months at Forsyth Tech and her vision for the future… Spend time with our exploration of the complicated data systems which make up education in North Carolina.

The myFutureNC Commission will announce an education goal for North Carolina tomorrow. You will be able to tune in via livestream beginning at 8am. Tip: Click “Get Notified” to add a calendar alert. Mebane Rash and I will be there. Follow us on Twitter for more!

For more on myFutureNC, check out all of our coverage, including a comprehensive overview of the first six months of the Commission written by Mebane Rash, and our Bright Spots series which explored innovative attempts to tackle attainment in communities across North Carolina.

Around the NC General Assembly

The House Education Community College Committee is slated to take up House Bill 8 this week. The bill would let Tri-County Community College charge in-state tuition to students from states bordering NC who live in counties contiguous to Cherokee, Clay, and Graham County. My colleague Rupen will be covering the debate. Stay tuned for our coverage.

Calendar flexibility remains a topic of interest as more bills have been filed on the topic. Stay up to date on all legislation this session through our legislation tracker.

The Senate will also be considering a construction plan which includes $2 billion dollars for community college construction needs. My colleague Liz will be covering. For more on the bill, click here.

Let me know if you know of an important story we have missed! Just email me directly by replying to this email.



EdNC Reads

From student to president: Meet Forsyth Tech’s Janet Spriggs

Dr. Janet Spriggs and I had the chance to catch up about her first few months as president of Forsyth Tech. Dr. Spriggs and I met on my second community college visit while she was serving as the Chief Operating Officer of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. Dr. Spriggs discussed the transition process of becoming a president, the strategic plan they are working towards unveiling, and more.

Students are turning to Alamance Community College to avoid debt and enter the workforce faster

The closing quote on this piece is powerful: “The ability to come in and learn without the fear of debt is amazing. And so for me to just be a part of this, it’s just amazing. I’m like Rip Van Winkle, you know. I feel like I was asleep for 20 years and I come in here and, wow, I get this amazing opportunity.”

What to expect in North Carolina education this week

This entire week is jam packed with press conferences, education-focused events, and legislative bills being filed. Alex Granados has the story in his most recent column previewing the week to come, which will include budget forecasts being released for the state and more.

Update from the State Board: Community college board approves smoother transfers for fine arts students

The Board approved a new articulation agreement with the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, as well as the formation of two new cooperative innovative high schools and several new degree programs.

EdExplainer: Education data systems in North Carolina

Analisa opened her deep dive on education data systems across North Carolina by placing all of the work into perspective: “Data about North Carolina’s students, teachers, classrooms, schools, and districts are woven into almost every discussion and debate about education across the state.” For a particular look at data within community colleges, click here.

Brunswick Community College: ‘Making ideas happen’

Caroline Parker explored the role Brunswick Community College plays in its community. Part of their vision includes believing they serve all residents in the community whether they are students or not. This vision includes an incubator with support for local entrepreneurs and a fitness center anyone can join.


What we’re reading

Here’s why so many Americans feel cheated by their student loans

Anne Helen Peterson explores the divides between those who have student loans and those who do not. Peterson points out Americans have a collective $1.5 trillion dollar debt load with growing default rates. What does this all mean for our country? Read on. I’d be curious to know if you’ve seen impacts at your college.

What do community college students say impedes their progress?

Researchers at NC State surveyed 6,000+ community college students from 10 community colleges across the country in the fall of 2017 and 2018 to see what they identified as barriers for progress. The top three challenges included work, paying expenses, and family and friends. I found the family and friends one particularly surprising. Check out the article explaining the findings and then explore the survey itself.

Transportation costs can block student success at community college

When most community college students are commuters, it stands to reason that transportation costs would surface as a significant issue facing student success. I would recommend reading this piece alongside the survey of students. What barriers to student success do you see on your campus? I’d like to know. We are going to continue to cover this issue.


Do you have a story to share?

We need your voice to tell the stories of our state’s 58 community colleges. We are now accepting first-person perspectives for We want to know your stories, ideas, and vision for our community colleges. To learn more about submitting an article, click here. If you respond to this email, I am happy to help you think about how to frame your perspective and story.



EducationNC ( believes a more informed, connected, and engaged North Carolina is a better North Carolina. Thank you so much for joining us in the conversation around our students, our state, and our future. If you have any questions about our mission and vision, feel free to email me.


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Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.