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NCC puts emphasis on community

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Jakia Parker, a cosmetology student at Nash Community College, gives Jeanne Purvis a relaxer retouch Thursday at Nash Community College. NCC's salon is open to the public.

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By AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Nash Community College President Bill Carver is fond of pointing out that “community” is the school’s middle name.

It is this connection to community that marks Nash Community College as it celebrates 50 years of service to Nash County and the surrounding areas. Now the largest community college in the northeast corridor of North Carolina, NCC offers nearly 100 academic programs and has nearly 500 part-time and full-time employees. In 2017, Nash Community College had 845 graduates from a variety of programs and served a total of approximately 11,000 students in curriculum and continuing education programs.

“We have something for everyone,” said Kelley Deal, dean of marketing at the college.

Carver said the academics of the college are geared to supporting the needs of the community.

“A lot of people today think that community colleges want to grow to be junior colleges in the sense that college transfer is all we do, but it is really only about 25 percent of what we do,” Carver said. “Technical programs are still the main part of our business. We are very proud of what we do in transfer, but if you are going to be a comprehensive community college, you need to everything — from non-readers all the way to organic chemistry. It is the associate degrees that fit the work in this community that our business partners appreciate.”

Nash Community College has more curriculum program students in its pre-health and health sciences programs than it does in college transfer programs. In the continuing education programs, criminal justice draws the most students. The school also offers some programs that are hard to find elsewhere. NCC is the only college in North Carolina that offers an associate degree in electric lineman technology and has the only physical therapy assistant program in the area.

The school soon also will be offering a new veterinary medical technology program for which its has earned accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the North Carolina Community College accrediting boards. 

“We are preparing classrooms now and hope to begin offering the program in January,” Caver said. “Martin Community College has an equine program, so we will partner with them for the large animal piece. This will be the only program like this in the eastern part of the state.”

However, Carver admits the new program will take community support.

“We are really stretching ourselves by offering this program because it is going to be expensive and its going to be long-term. We are going to need the support of the community in understanding that bringing this to the community will require specialized equipment and specialized instructional talent,” Carver said.

However, Carver said he does see future benefit to the community by offering services through the program.

“We foresee clinical hours down the line. We are already having conversations about that,” he said.

The college is planning to break ground soon on two new buildings — an advanced manufacturing building and a cosmetology building. The two programs now currently reside in the C Building — one of the older buildings on campus. Once these programs are moved into new advanced facilities, C Building will be converted for use by the Nash-Rocky Mount Early College High School, which now meets in mobile units on the campus.

The new cosmetology building will be 11,000 square feet and offer not only classroom space but an expanded area to offer cosmetology services to the community. The new advanced manufacturing building will be 16,000 square feet and will focus on such advanced manufacturing needs as robotics. 3-D printing, machining, mechatronics and program logic controllers.

“This will put the program in a building made for equipment that exists today, not equipment that existed 30 years ago, back when our machining program was established,” Carver said.

Deal said the needs of the community require such new innovations.

“The constant has been that the industry has dicated what we do here,” Deal said. “We are responding to local needs.”

However, Nash Community College also supports the needs of students through its “Blue Love” initiative which pervades the campus.

“Blue Love is not just a brand,” Carver said. “It is part of the wrap-around services that we provide the students to help them succeed. It is that personal touch they won’t get at bigger college.”

Blue Love also helps improve the retention rates and graduation numbers, which are often low in a community college setting. The school offers a variety of supports for students from its extensive student wellness programs to its Single Stop program designed to help students with financial concerns. The school also goes the extra mile in providing academic support, Carver said.

“We are also willing to deal with some of the difficulty challenges with regard to retention — not just remediation. From a pedagogical standpoint, we have the Math Tank and the English Studio — these are things that are unique to Nash that we have piloted and pulled off successfully,” Carver said.

These extra supports are part of the community approach, Carver said.

“If community is our middle name, you have to be interested in the whole person,” Carver said. “Ultimately, what you want from a community college is to be able to train the people who live and work in your community.”

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