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Listen | Community colleges ‘have weathered this storm.’ Forsyth Tech’s Janet Spriggs joins the Awake58 podcast

“I think that Forsyth Tech and all of the community colleges in North Carolina have weathered this storm,” Forsyth Tech president Janet Spriggs said during our latest Awake58 podcast as we discussed a very abnormal year.

Spriggs has been president of Forsyth Tech since January 2019. During her tenure, the college has focused on bolstering enrollment through novel attempts at outreach, building a culture rooted in equity, and collaborating with other institutions in the Triad.

Spriggs also said it was important for policymakers to continue to think creatively as we recover from COVID-19. A debate is emerging nationally around expanding Pell Grants to support short-term workforce development programs, for example, and Spriggs walked through what that would mean for community college students:

“If I’ve got a really low-income student who has a family to support, and they can’t afford to come to class right now, and they were working full time, and they can’t take a curriculum program, they might be able to take a short-term class, which will get them a better paying job, and perhaps even go to work for a company that will pay the tuition for them, if they want to go into another degree program. So it’s critically important for helping us help particularly the most vulnerable, and … the students with the lowest incomes, really be able to get the more immediate training that they need to get to work faster. And then we can work with them on their lifelong educational plan … and the next step of their educational journey. But the first thing is being able to help them take care of themselves and their families.”

For our full conversation — including more detail on Forsyth Tech’s recent receipt of a $5 million federal grant that will support a unique collaborative — give the podcast a listen below:

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.