JSCC Staff named finalist for the Statewide Outstanding Achievement Recognition Award

Feb 19th, 2024

Jackson State Community College (JSCC) Work-based Learning Coordinator Catherine Roberts has been selected as a finalist for the Statewide Outstanding Achievement Recognition (SOAR) Staff Excellence Award. She will represent the Western Region in the 6th Annual SOAR Awards, hosted by the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) in March.

Roberts has served Jackson State with dedication for more than a decade as a Perkins IV Retention Specialist, Completion Coach, and most recently a Work-based Learning Coordinator along with being an adjunct professor. During her time at the college, she has proved to be an invaluable asset to the college and the Jackson community.

“Cathi is an outstanding example of the kind of excellence we pride ourselves on at Jackson State,” said President, Dr. Carol A. Rothstein. “Her dedication has had lasting impacts on this college as well as her students. I’m tremendously proud of her for this incredible accomplishment and know that she will continue to exemplify the quality of work that has merited becoming a finalist for this award.”

Through her recruitment and retention efforts, Roberts has helped drastically raise the AMT programs enrollment and retention rates. In one year, she raised enrollment from 3 students to 21 students, and retention also increased, and has held steady, at an 88% retention rate. Roberts has also established a working committee and served as a liaison with over 30 manufacturers to ensure the success of the AMT Co-op and its students. The AMT Co-op offers students the opportunity to earn a wage and valuable work experience while earning their degree through a blend of classroom instruction and on-site manufacturing experience at various West Tennessee industry consortium partners.

Through her promotion of community service within her program, students in JSCC’s Engineering Systems Technology (ENST), the academic program in which the AMT Co-op is housed, were the first students at JSCC to earn a Service-Learning endorsement.

Roberts and students in her program have volunteered and assisted in several community events such as the RIFA Canstruction, Black Tie and Boxing, Jackson Area Dog Fancier Association, local high school events, and the Toyota Boshoku Hub City Robo Rumble, which hosted its inaugural competition at JSCC in October of 2023.

Roberts has also created other valuable resources and community partnerships for the program and JSCC. She has served as a resource for the national organization, Federation of Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME) and was most recently appointed to the National Technical Board for FAME USA, which addresses topics like recruitment, success coaching, and chapter management.

“I am deeply honored to have been selected as a finalist for this year’s SOAR Awards,” said Roberts. “We’re changing lives here at JSCC through our AMT program, and it brings me the greatest sense of joy when students return to not only share their career successes with me but to hear that they are continuing to advocate for the program that changed their lives. Our students are getting an award-winning education, paired with valuable industry connections, knowledge, and more. And I can’t thank the students and those that support me enough for the program we’ve built. I’m humbled to be selected, and eternally grateful.”

The SOAR Awards are hosted annually and given to a single student, faculty, and staff member from higher education institutions across Tennessee. Each year, institutions submit letters of recommendations for those that they feel best represent their respective institution to compete at the regional level. Following interviews at the regional level, selections are made for finalists who will compete for the award in Nashville. The 2024 SOAR Awards will take place March 27th-28th. Winners will be announced on March 28th at the SOAR Award Banquet.

For more information on the 2024 SOAR Awards, visit www.tbr.edu/external-affairs/soar.tbr.edu/external-affairs/soar.

To learn more about JSCC’s AMT programs or to apply, visit jscc.edu/amt.  


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