Helping students achieve their dreams, of course, is more than just an academic pursuit for Virginia’s Community Colleges.
And for Mandy Barrett and Shawn Anderson, the mission also takes on a personal dimension. Both are the first members of their families to graduate from college.
Today, Barrett and Anderson coordinate student engagement programs at Southwest Virginia Community College and Piedmont Virginia Community College, respectively.
“This is my chance to transform students’ lives,” says Barrett, 28, who earned her associates degree at SWCC before graduating ODU. “My parents both worked hard to support my college dreams, and now I’m hoping to offer a stepping stone for our students at Southwest.”
“I know how much it means to my family that I finished college and went on to graduate school,” says Anderson, 25 (bachelor’s at Longwood, Masters at UVa.) “It’s great to be at this event to hear what everyone else is doing across the VCCS, as well as to learn about how I can do my job better.”
Barrett and Anderson were among the talented young faculty, staff and administrators who were tapped by their colleges to attend the Chancellor’s Leadership Academy in Richmond September 20-21.
“It’s worth noting that 18 of the 42 participants at this event were the first in their families to graduate from college,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “That fact underscores the value and importance of our mission to provide access to higher education to people across the commonwealth.”
In addition to networking and honing their leadership skills, participants signed up for research projects that focus on some of the major challenges facing VCCS, including increasing success with online degree courses and programs, promoting the value of career education programs, using artificial intelligence to improve student services, doing a better job of assigning students to courses that fit their skills, and improving student advising.
Work groups formed during the leadership academy will continue to collaborate in the coming months, and will present their findings at the VCCS New Horizons conference next April in Roanoke. When these young leaders present their findings, we’ll provide access to their papers here in the Chancellor’s Syllabus.
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