At a recent Johnston Community College Foundation gala, one of our students addressed the attendees. As she was speaking, one of the individuals next to me whispered, “She has a tremendous story to tell.” In total agreement, I whispered back: “So does every one of our students. She is but a single representative of the hundreds of stories about the impact JCC has on students’ lives.”
One such impact is the good work JCC faculty and staff are doing through the Career and College Promise program. CCP is a strong collaboration with Johnston County Schools in which high school students can dually enroll in high school and college courses. The program is designed to give high school students a taste of the college experience while completing high school requirements. In so doing, students are more likely to succeed in their high school course work, go to college, succeed in those studies and graduate.
The CCP experience has the same impact for students who intend to complete an associate’s degree and move into the world of work. Studies show those students are, again, more likely to complete high school and college and move successfully into the labor market.
Currently, Johnston County is fortunate to have 886 students planning to take part in this life-changing, story-generating program. Students may enroll in 24 different pathways to certificates, diplomas and associate degrees. The most popular pathways are the college-transfer curriculum, business administration, industrial systems and nursing assisting. Growing in popularity are programs in welding, paralegal technology, cosmetology, Spanish interpreting, criminal justice, and heavy-equipment and transport technology.
An exciting new program under development for CCP and open college enrollment is the associate’s degree in engineering. The program, expected to receive approval for the 2015-16 academic year, will allow students to begin engineering studies at JCC and then to transfer seamlessly to one of the UNC System engineering programs. The degree plan includes required general education and prerequisite courses that are acceptable to all state-funded bachelor of engineering programs. Successful completion spares students from having to take additional and sometimes duplicative courses upon transfer to the four-year institution.
Engineers are listed often among the positions that industry struggles to fill. The development of this new program is in response to those employment needs and furthers the community colleges’ partnership with the UNC System. Stemming from the Building Engineering Pathways grant funded by the Golden Leaf Foundation, our goal has been to expand the pipeline to four-year engineering degrees. By providing a unified, seamless pathway to an engineering degree, the two public higher-education systems are increasing students’ opportunities to pursue engineering while responding to industry’s workforce needs. This effort is a case in point that workforce development is economic development.
For more information on all workforce development/economic development opportunities at JCC, visit our website at johnstoncc.edu. We are one college providing endless opportunities.
David Johnson is president of Johnston Community College.