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Who is Lawrence Long? Meet a Jeopardy! champion from one of our community colleges

A note from us

Welcome to Awake58 — EdNC’s newsletter focused on community colleges and the postsecondary landscape in North Carolina. We appreciate you allowing us into your inbox this week. If you received this email without a subscription, please click here to subscribe to this newsletter. Check out last week’s newsletter focused on a range of issues, including affordable housing at Durham Tech.

We profiled Lawrence Long, a Jeopardy! champion from Forsyth Tech… We visited Fayetteville Tech last week to learn more about their new regional fire and rescue training center… FTCC’s Mark Sorrells wrote a perspective noting the importance of an expanded cyber network to bolster cybersecurity…

Our latest Moment of Hope focuses on Sherri Trotter of Davidson-Davie Community College. Watch the most recent Moment of Hope here and feel free to share it by retweeting!

We traveled to Fayetteville Tech last Friday to learn more about the college’s efforts around adult learners, as well as their new fire and rescue training center. We also discussed the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on FTCC’s military students and veterans. FTCC president Dr. Larry Keen shared that more than 70 of their students have been deployed to eastern Europe. Keen also pointed out that other students could be deployed in the weeks ahead. Many FTCC students are also military spouses and children. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those impacted by the deployment.

You can find Cheyenne’s piece on the Fire and Rescue Center here. Keen shared why this program will matter to Fayetteville and the broader region:

President of Fayetteville Technical Community College, Dr. Larry Keen, says that this new facility will be pivotal in training fire and rescue personnel to go out during tropical storms and hurricanes. Keen shared a personal experience that highlighted why this project matters so much to him.

“I’ll never forget as long as I live my family and I were riding out Hurricane Matthew and there was a knock on my door. It was a fireman and a couple of fire people and a sheriff’s deputy,” Keen recalled. “They were trying to advise people to get out and so forth. I’ve always had great admiration for them, but at that moment I saw what those people do day in and day out.”

Forsyth Tech was in the news in recent weeks as Forsyth student Lawrence Long competed – and won — on Jeopardy! Our own Anna Pogarcic is a big fan of the show, so she naturally jumped in to share Long’s story. Long attended Clemson University, worked as a sommelier, and eventually found his way to Forsyth Tech. Give his story a read — and learn what he is doing with his winnings!

Thank you as always for entrusting us to share your stories — and for allowing us into your inboxes again this week.

I’ll see you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Director of Growth —

EdNC reads

Meet Lawrence Long, the Forsyth Tech student turned Jeopardy! champion

When Forsyth Tech student Lawrence Long hit the stage of Jeopardy!, we knew exactly the person on our team to write the story. EdNC’s Anna Pogarcic is a Jeopardy! fan from way back, so she greatly enjoyed catching up with Long.

His wide-ranging career and life experiences took him all over the country before he landed back home in North Carolina. An interest in becoming an EMT landed him at Forsyth Tech – and a family decision for him to take care of his niece as her school went virtual led him to stopping out. She is now back in school, Long is studying at Forsyth Tech to become a nurse, and a confluence of events led him to be a Jeopardy! champion.

But what will he do with a portion of his winnings? His niece and Forsyth Tech will both benefit:

“When she started her (online) schooling, I was supplementing that, and I wanted her to learn the state capitals,” he said. “So I incentivized it by telling her that if she did learn all the states and the state capitals, that I would take her to the one of her choosing.”

It only took her about three weeks, he said. He plans to use part of his winnings to take her to Hawaii, her state of choice.

“We have this pull-off calendar that has pictures of islands on it, and I was trying to convince her for a while that all the pictures of Hawaii were actually in Kansas,” he explained with a laugh. “.. and she was like, ‘There are no volcanoes in Kansas,’ and I would tell her, you know, if they did have them in Kansas, they would probably want to hide them so that people didn’t know that they were there.”

He’s also donating a portion of his winnings to a textbook fund for Forsyth Tech students, highlighting how those costs can be a barrier for students.

For Long’s full story, click here.

Fayetteville Tech builds new hub for fire and rescue training

A heavy fog covered Cumberland County as we drove up to the construction site of what will be the new Regional Fire and Rescue Training Center for Fayetteville Tech. The delegation that greeted us was all smiles as they walked us through their plans for this $40 million training facility.

The facility will be impressive in both size and scope:

The first phase of the project, scheduled for completion this fall, includes a 24,000 square-foot building that will house a fully functioning firehouse, classrooms, apparatus bay, locker rooms, offices, and more. The first phase also includes burn buildings that will allow instructors and students to simulate live burns and a technical rescue complex.

The second and third phases of the project include more specialized training, like an indoor swift water rescue center that will be the first of its kind in North Carolina. This facility will be used to train personnel to perform rescues in fast-moving water, including rescuing people stuck in flooded cars and houses. The facility will include a tank that will hold 80,000 gallons of water. FTCC expects that this swift water rescue facility will be used to train rescue personnel from Virginia all the way to Florida.

For more, check out the story from new EdNC team member Cheyenne McNeill by clicking below.

Click here for the full story

Perspective | Carolina Cyber Network expands with legislative support

The importance of cybersecurity has been clear as the pandemic has brought even more of our work life online. Numerous colleges have faced significant cyberattacks.

The news out of Ukraine — and the global response to Russia — showcases the importance of cybersecurity moving forward as it is a clear battlefront for future wars.

Mark Sorrells, Fayetteville Tech’s senior vice president for academic and student services, wrote a perspective for EdNC last week updating us on the development of the Carolina Cyber Network:

Nationally, we need an additional 1.5+ million trained individuals to fill current open cybersecurity positions. In North Carolina, we’re short an estimated 21,000. In 2020, Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC) and the Carolina Cyber Center (C3) at Montreat College partnered to initiate a comprehensive talent pipeline designed to protect our future by strengthening the state’s cybersecurity capabilities through a coordinated, work-ready talent development system called the Carolina Cyber Network (CCN). The General Assembly recognized the need, the innovative solution, and the ability to execute, and proceeded to fund the first phase of the initiative. Work is underway to establish a sustainable network of two- and four-year institutions dedicated to developing a sufficient pool of talent focused on the technical, professional, and essential life skills for successful careers in cybersecurity.

CCN has grown to include a total of 11 two- and four-year colleges and universities that have joined together to address the state’s growing cybersecurity workforce gap.

His perspective goes on to share details on the future growth of the network — funded in part by a significant investment from North Carolina’s General Assembly. For more details, and the full-story, click here.

Around NC

North Carolina Central University (NCCU) hosted U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona last week: “Cardona highlighted NCCU’s mental health services during a visit he made with Gov. Roy Cooper to the Durham campus on Wednesday. Cardona heard presentations from faculty in the student affairs division and sat in on a closed roundtable where he heard directly from eight students.”

The Institute for Emerging Issues just published a piece outlining key messages from the 2022 Emerging Issues Forum, including: “Full-time college doesn’t work for everyone, and some meaningful credentials may come outside of a college setting. And we better serve learners—younger and older—by showing how specific educational pathways lead to rewarding careers. We can also support learners by instilling from an early age the idea that education after high school is both possible and expected.”

IEI also published a list of 22 North Carolinians working to make North Carolina a better place recently.

The North Carolina COVID-19 Student Response Corps has posted an application for host sites. According to the Corps: “If you are interested in becoming a host organization submit an intern request form. This form will populate in our public database shared with colleges and universities. Students apply directly to host organizations.”

myFutureNC released a new video regarding their work called My Future is Our Future. They also just released the 2020-2021 First in FAFSA Year in Review report. If you are interested in working for myFutureNC, they have a Program Manager position open.

Bladen Community College named Dolly Horton as the new vice president for academic affairs and workforce development. 

Blue Ridge Community College’s new website just won an AVA Digital Award Gold Medal.

A Carteret Community College task force is studying ways to improve diversity on campus.

Durham Tech just announced a new partnership focused on providing part-time child care: “Durham Technical Community College and Kate’s Korner Education Services are partnering to provide free part-time childcare services and after-school care on the College’s main campus this spring… Drop-in services will be offered to 60 children beginning January 31 through June. The program focuses on access and affordability while delivering a high-quality project-based curriculum.”

When we visited Fayetteville Tech last week, we were able to see a brand new mural advertising their growing food pantry operation. The Fayetteville Observer has a story on the effort.

Pitt Community College’s VISIONS program was recently highlighted by Higher Ed Works. According to Higher Ed Works, “(VISIONS) reaches out to at-risk high school students, mentors them and provides financial and technical support for them to get a degree or certificate at Pitt Community College.” More than 1,200 students have benefitted from the program.

Richmond Community College generated a local media spotlight on two students (and friends) enrolled in their criminal justice technology program. 

South Piedmont Community College is bringing an adult literacy-focused nonprofit into the college officially.

Other higher education reads

College students to administrators: Let’s talk about mental health

The COVID-19 pandemic has helped elevate important conversations around the state of mental health. Hechinger Report shares an article highlighting how students are now often driving the conversation — including statistics showcasing part of the why behind the growing conversation:

Data from the 2021 Healthy Minds Study shows 34 percent of college respondents struggling with anxiety disorder and 41 percent with depression — rates that have risen in recent years.  More broadly, nearly 73 percent in the Fall 2021 American College Health Association National College Health Assessment survey reported moderate or serious psychological distress.

For the full story, click here.

Hechinger also just published a piece looking at small colleges that are staying alive despite challenges to their business model.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.