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How Central Carolina is working to provide holistic, personalized education

As we walked the halls of Central Carolina Community College recently, we stumbled upon a beagle waking up from surgery at the veterinary medical technology lab.

A beagle waking up from surgery at Central Carolina Community College’s veterinary medical technology lab. Alli Lindenberg/EducationNC

Central Carolina’s main campus is located in Sanford, North Carolina. The college serves three counties: Chatham, Harnett, and Lee, with an enrollment just over 15,000. Throughout our time at the college, we heard about a number of programs that had been customized to meet the needs of the diverse communities the college serves across its service area — symbolized by an under-construction vet tech building that will house cows and the yawning beagle we came across in the hall.

With a large geographical service area, the college serves a range of students. In order to try to meet students’ diversity of needs, as well as bolster retention and completion, the college has adopted a holistic and personalized support approach.

The holistic student support model has four main focuses:

  • Basic needs, such as food and housing, which are assessed through an intake survey and addressed with community resource referrals and emergency funding.
  • Academic support and planning through faculty advising, success coaches, tutoring, the writing center, and the academic assistance center.

Here’s a presentation the college provided that showcases additional details on exactly how Central Carolina approaches this work.

The vet tech program is a draw for students from all over the state. Caighla Outlaw is one.

A Central Carolina student looks through a microscope. Alli Lindenberg/EducationNC

The Veterinary Medical Technology program at Central Carolina was the first of its kind in North Carolina. The program started in 1974 and has prepared students to serve and become leaders in the field ever since. The program is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA) of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

The program attracts students from near and far. We met one student who travels from hours away to take classes on campus. Another, named Caighla Outlaw, is an area native.

Listen to her experience in the program in this video.

Connecting the classroom to workforce

A Central Carolina student takes notes in HVAC class. Alli Lindenberg/EducationNC

Jerry Pedley is the founder and president of Mertek Solutions in Sanford, North Carolina. During our conversation, he walked us through what he described as a strong partnership with Central Carolina that has stretched over the course of several decades.

In fact, today, the majority of his staff come straight from the college.

Here, he explains what that partnership means to him and his team.

Chatham County focus: Sustainable agriculture

Another unique offering of Central Carolina is their degree in sustainable agriculture. Established in 2002, the program has access to an organic farm on campus that serves as a “living laboratory” for the students. Classes are offered at the Chatham County campus.

We caught up with Mark Hall, provost of Chatham County for the college, to better understand how the program came to be.

The RISE program

The Real Investment in Sanford Entrepreneurs (RISE) program is an entrepreneurship development program with partners in the Sanford area. The program is offered at no charge to participants. You can learn more about the program here or in the slide deck provided below.

CCCC president Chapman returns home

Lisa Chapman began her academic career at Central Carolina before taking a leadership role at the system office in Raleigh. She recently returned home to the college as president.

EdNC’s Nation Hahn recently interviewed her for the Awake58 podcast. During the course of the conversation, Chapman shares what it feels like to go home again, what drew her back to Central Carolina, what reforms might be needed on transfers, and why budget stabilization is essential for community colleges across the state. Listen below.

Alli Lindenberg

Alli Lindenberg is an executive fellow for EducationNC.