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Awake58: One year of spending time with you all

Awake58: One year of spending time with you all

This is a copy of the Awake58 newsletter originally sent on Tuesday, September 3, 2019. Click here to subscribe.

We reflect on one year of Awake58 and’s community college coverage… MC Belk Pilon shares her prism on why leadership matters for community colleges… Peter Hans explains the role of community colleges in helping the state achieve the attainment goal set by myFutureNC… the Center for Responsible Lending looks at the student debt load in our state… Another community college reports a rise in enrollment…

This week, we will document one year of covering North Carolina’s community colleges. Our team has been to all of your colleges — many of them more than once. We started the journey by traveling more than 7,000 miles over the course of one week in an effort to meet as many of you as possible. Relive that journey by clicking here to watch our video. Visit each day for more content focused on community colleges!

Tomorrow, we are releasing a video documenting our lessons learned from the past year, and we want you to see it first. ​​​​​​​

I wrote a piece previewing our blitz and our work that I would encourage you to revisit as you consider whether we’ve done what we said we would do:

“Our work in the community college space will include reporting on the news which happens daily and weekly in the space, but some of our deepest work will be giving North Carolina context on what I consider the ‘why’ and ‘what’ of the news — why it happened, why it matters, what it will mean for us all, and what is next… Ultimately, we intend to play a role in launching and shaping the statewide conversation around community colleges, attainment, postsecondary access, and the future of work. All of these issues will in turn define the future of the state.”

One year later, Molly Osborne and I shared our thoughts regarding the last year for community colleges. We revisited the Residency Determination Service, shared why we continue to invest in listening, and provided a preview of our upcoming coverage. I would encourage you to check it out today. While you are it,take a look at Peter Hans’ perspective on the future of the myFutureNC attainment goalMC Belk Pilon of the John M Belk Endowment wrote a piece sharing her own lessons after visiting half of North Carolina’s community colleges over the last year-plus.

As Hurricane Dorian approaches, our thoughts and prayers are with all of those in the path. Our colleague Rupen Fofaria has been traveling to communities impacted by Hurricane Florence to understand where things stand today. He will remain on the road this week, and I encourage you to follow him on Twitter for updates.

I’ll see you out on the road,


Let us know how we’re doing

We have worked to answer critical questions this year — and we know we have a lot more to answer on behalf of our students, our colleges, and our state. What are your questions? What stories should we tell? Let us know.

EdNC Reads

Covering our state’s 58 community colleges: A look back at our first year

One year ago, we spent a little over a week traveling to all 58 community colleges. We have learned a lot from listening to all of you. We want you to know some of what we’ve learned — and we want you to know what we are planning to cover in the year ahead. Please read the piece and let us know your thoughts!

Perspective from MC Belk Pilon | What we have learned about North Carolina community colleges by hitting the road

MC Belk Pilon of the John M Belk Endowment shares her perspective on how her travel to community colleges over the last 18 months has shaped her understanding of the landscape facing the system. She shared three lessons — including the importance of visibility for the system and the individual colleges.

Perspective from Peter Hans | Community colleges are the key to North Carolina’s ambitious new education goal

President Peter Hans reflects on what the myFutureNC attainment goal of 2,000,000 North Carolinians having a high quality degree or credential will require of the community college system: “Let’s face it. The two million number won’t be possible without the 58 community colleges, which have the scale to impact so many people and so many communities that need an economic lift. Two-year degrees and workforce credentials are central to the statewide attainment goal.”

We can’t talk about attainment without talking about race

“Beyond the moral obligation to our students of color, North Carolina’s changing racial demographics make it clear that any path to two million high quality credentials or degrees by 2030 must address these deep, persistent inequities in our education system. North Carolina’s constitution guarantees every child the opportunity for a sound basic education, but it is clear that the state has fallen short.”

Forsyth Tech camp inspires pipeline for underrepresented minorities in STEM

My colleague Yasmin visited Forsyth Tech’s STEM Camp to learn more about their approach: “[Aloysius] Jones emphasized the importance of underrepresented minority students seeing themselves in STEM fields at all levels: from their peers, to family, to mentors, to teachers and instructors in the classrooms, to people in the workforce. ‘Many times, these students aren’t going to see that,’ he said.”

Other Reads

North Carolina’s student debt: Dimensions of a crisis

Stunning stat: “Over 44 million Americans hold more than $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, and over 1.2 million North Carolinians alone hold $44 billion in student loan debt.”

The hidden risk in off-campus housing costs

This piece takes a look at the increasing amount of postsecondary students who are “rent-burdened.” The article notes, “Between 2000 and 2017, room and board costs for students living off campus rose 24 percent at public four-year universities after inflation, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics analyzed by The Hechinger Report.”

Around North Carolina

BCCC enrollment reaches five-year high

Beaufort County Community College’s enrollment numbers have reached a five-year high per a report from the Washington Daily News. I’ve heard from several colleges regarding enrollment increases this year. I would love to hear where your college stands with enrollment this fall. Please just email me directly.

Private foundation gift will help LCC students secure reliable transportation

The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation issued a grant of $250,000 to Lenoir Community College to launch a new program called Cars for College. The grant funds will allow the college to purchase cars, repair them through their automotive program, and then provide them to students at a low cost. The program was created after surveys identified transportation as one of the largest barriers for students to graduate.

Gov. Roy Cooper visits Southwestern Community College

“Gov. Cooper visited SCC’s Jackson Campus on Thursday, Aug. 22, to meet with four of the college’s [Finish Line Grant] recipients and get a first-hand account of how the program made a difference in their lives.”

Mayne Pharma welcomes first group of scholars

The Mayne Pharma Scholars Program just introduced their first group of scholars at Pitt Community College. The college notes: “The program is designed to identify high potential, STEM-focused students and invest in their education toward a career in the pharmaceutical industry, specifically with Mayne Pharma.”

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Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.