Speaking about her area of responsibility, a Johnston Community College employee recently told a visiting state lawmaker, “We ARE the community in Johnston Community College.”
Our visitor was impressed. I was impressed as well but not at all surprised by her zeal, her determination to make the point or the articulate manner by which she made it. The feeling of community is pervasive at JCC, and that feeling results in pride, effort, service, commitment and dedication to adding value to the lives of all who come in contact with JCC.
Examples of community abound. On Halloween night, about 500 people enjoyed the safe environment of trick-or-treating on campus, enjoying a carnival atmosphere with games and food, watching “Godzilla” on the big screen and stuffing themselves with popcorn and cotton candy.
The 20th annual Neal Lancaster-Four Oaks Bank Golf Tournament was a tremendous success, drawing 550 golfers and friends in support of student scholarships for the coming year. Again, community to the rescue, generating approximately $35,000 on behalf of student success.
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On Oct. 16, JCC was honored to be a partner in receiving the Governor’s Innovation Award in recognition of creating a stellar training program with the Johnston County public schools, Wake County public schools and Caterpillar of Clayton. Serving high school students in Johnston and Wake counties, this pre-apprenticeship program is giving young, potential employees the training and education needed to be successful in the workplace while providing a local training partner a pipeline for good employees.
JCC students understand the necessity of community as well. Each year, several organizations across the college undertake the collection and delivery of shoe boxes in support of Operation Christmas Child. Although not sponsored by the college, college students and employees personify the community in Johnston Community College by donating more than 100 boxes to the cause. This year, one student alone has already brought in 142 boxes to be used as gifts for children within our greater community – those who are in need throughout the world.
Donors to the college understand the importance of community as well. Because of a generous gift by Hugh and Nan Cullman in support of the Anne Sanderson Ogburn Children’s Area, JCC will welcome children from across Johnston County to visit with children’s author Denise Fleming. Fleming is the author and illustrator of 20 picture books, including “In the Small, Small Pond,” which earned a Caldecott Honor Award, the highest honor in children’s literature.
The list continues with multiple other opportunities for JCC to celebrate community on and off campus. There are learning events at Howell Woods; entertainment in the Paul A. Johnston Auditorium (the East Coast Gospel Sing and the Country Music Showcase Christmas Show to name two); new health-education programs at the Cleveland Center; and seminars and workshops in our new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Center.
Notice again what our employee said to the senator. She started with “we.” Being the community in Johnston Community College means “we” support bringing meaning to the lives of so many.
David N. Johnson is president of Johnston Community College.