Star Tree provides hope and opportunity for students

The Jackson State Community College Foundation offers its thanks to everyone who has provided support to our students over the years. The Foundation provides hope and opportunities for students to achieve a college education, build a bright future, and serve in their communities.

This year has been a challenging year for many of our students who have experienced an unforeseen financial hardship. Still, our students have remained committed to their educational goals and have worked hard to adjust to their new normal. In our commitment to our students’ academic and personal success, Jackson State Community College has created the “Star Tree” for 2020.

Your support is needed to create a brighter holiday for our students by donating to the Student Relief fund through the Jackson State Community College Foundation. All proceeds will go towards our students who are experiencing financial difficulties this holiday season. Gifts may be made online at http://www.jscc.edu/relief or mailed to Jackson State Community College at 2046 North Parkway, Jackson, TN 38301- checks should be payable to JSCC Foundation/ Student Relief. Email foundation@jscc.edu with any questions.

Student realizing dreams while overcoming adversity

When Raven Ferrell logged onto her first virtual college course at Jackson State Community College last August, she achieved a major goal in her life.

“I’ve always had dreams and goals in my life,” said the 28-year-old mother. “I always wanted to go to college.”

There were days in her life, however, when Ferrell didn’t think she would live past high school, let alone go to college and start a career. She’s a recovering drug addict and alcoholic who started on alcohol and pot when she was 13 and who was hooked on heroin by the time she graduated from Haywood County High School. She’s been in jail more times than she can count.

Ferrell started turning her life around three years ago because she was pregnant. Since early 2018, she’s been sober and drug-free. Her last time in jail was February 1, 2018. She went to rehab for a year and got her own apartment. She then got a job in admissions at Aspell Recovery Center’s Jackson campus.

Now she owns a house and she’s engaged to be married. Her son, Blayden, is two years old. And, with the support of new friends in her life, she started college at Jackson State this fall.

Ferrell, who is considered a non-traditional student, chose to attend Jackson State because of the Tennessee Reconnect Scholarship. With aid from other sources, her final financial aid package covers not only tuition but fees and books as well. The additional aid allowed her to purchase a laptop at the beginning of the semester, which would not have been possible with Reconnect alone.

When she logged in to her first class – English Comp 1 – in late August, she was apprehensive and fearful, worried about the unknown of college, that she wouldn’t succeed, that she would encounter another roadblock in her life.

She did well her first semester, however. “I just did everything I could to show gratitude for everyone who is rooting for me. So many have touched my life to help me. I am extremely grateful.”

Her plans are to get an associate degree and then a bachelor’s degree in social work. “I want to be a drug and alcohol counselor,” Ferrell said. “I love seeing families reunited. I want to be a part of that.”

Born in Brownsville, Ferrell moved often with her mother. They returned to Haywood County when she was a teenager. Alcoholism and drug addiction run in her family, she said, and it was family members who first introduced her to liquor and drugs.

Having a college degree and career would be more than a milestone in her life, she said. “It would be so great to say I have a career. Other than being a mother, reaching that goal would finally give me a purpose in life. I would have something constant and stable in my life. I’ve never had that. It’s a game-changer.”

Jackson State is currently recruiting for the spring semester, which begins January 19, 2021. The Tennessee Reconnect Scholarship is available to any Tennessee adult who has never completed a post-secondary credential. To learn more about the scholarship, to apply for college admission or to sign up for classes, call 425-2601 or visit jscc.edu/gotime. Jackson State has several resources to help non-traditional students earn a technical certification or a two-year associate degree.

Medical Laboratory Program receives successful review from accrediting body

Jackson State Community College’s Medical Laboratory Program is on track to retain its national accreditation status after a successful review from the National Accreditation Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences.

The national accrediting body’s review committee recently finished a virtual site visit, and the program received no recommendations for improvement or concerns.

Jackson State’s Medical Laboratory Program began in 1969 and is the oldest in the country. For the past 30 years, almost all of its graduates have passed their licensure and certification exams on the first attempt – their averages on exit exams are well above state and national averages.

“We’ve always felt like we’ve had the best program in Tennessee,” said Medical Laboratory Program Director Pete O’Brien. “Nationally, I think we’re as good as anybody.”

The program teaches students to hunt for clues about the absence, presence, extent, and causes of diseases. A medical laboratory scientist performs general tests in all laboratory areas and works under the supervision of a medical technologist.

Their testing plays a crucial role in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases, as well as monitoring and maintaining patient health. In fact, about 75 percent of all medical diagnostic and treatment decisions are based on the testing performed by laboratory science professionals.

Medical laboratory technicians perform tests on blood and other body fluids using analytical procedures and state-of-the-art-instrumentation. They identify microorganisms that cause disease and detect blood cell abnormalities, such as anemia and leukemia, as well as blood-clotting disorders and blood compatibilities for transfusions. They also quantify compounds such as glucose, protein, cholesterol, and specific medications.

Open enrollment for winter & spring terms to begin November 30

Open enrollment for the winter and spring terms begins Monday, November 30. The monthlong winter term begins December 14; the spring term begins January 19. Currently enrolled students should contact the registration center at 731-425-9560 or jsccadvising@jscc.edu for any assistance with the process.

New students must apply for admission. This process can be accomplished quickly, but students requiring financial aid should allow for sufficient time to file the FAFSA. JSCC recruiters are here to help you through the admissions process! Call 731-425-2601 or email recruiting@jscc.edu. Information about the spring semester, admissions, and registration can be found at www.jscc.edu/gotime.

JSCC to hold Computer Information Technology info sessions

Jackson State Community College’s Department of Computer Information Technology (CIT) will host two information sessions for new students via Zoom conference. The first session will be held on Monday, December 7 from 9 to 10 a.m. The second session will be held on Tuesday, December 8 from 5 to 6 p.m. To register and receive a link to one of the sessions, contact Stacey Dunevant at sdunevant@jscc.edu.

The CIT program at JSCC offers several concentrations including Information Systems, Computer Science, Cyber Defense, Networking, and Programming. The program has received many accolades and certifications over the years and is widely recognized as one of the area’s premier colleges for education in the field of computer information technology.

JSCC is certified as a National Center of Academic Excellence by the U.S. National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security. This designation puts Jackson State among an elite group of institutions across the country offering computer information technology courses that meet rigorous federal standards and sets graduating students apart from others, said Dr. Tom Pigg, Jackson State’s Dean of Health Sciences and Computer Information Technology.

Jackson State also has partnered with Cisco Systems, a national manufacturer of network infrastructure hardware, to be one of Cisco’s academic support centers. With a curriculum created by Cisco, Jackson State trains teachers at other high schools and colleges.

“We are the only program in Tennessee accredited to teach the instructors,” Dr. Pigg said.

Jackson State continues to expand what it offers in the cyber defense program. A new Cyber Security Technical Certificate allows students to be certified as they work towards an associate degree.

Jackson State’s leadership and growth in its cybersecurity program comes at a time when the United States is facing a critical shortage of cybersecurity professionals and educators in all sectors. Some estimates place the national shortfall at more than 250,000 in 2020.

OTA class earns 100 percent pass rate on national exam

Members of Jackson State Community College’s Occupational Therapy Assistant class of 2020 earned a 100 percent pass rate on their national credentialing examination, despite challenges and barriers created by COVID-19.

The exam is administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy. It is taken after graduation and required for certification, licensure, and employment. This is the second year in a row the program had a 100 percent pass rate.

As cases of the coronavirus in the United States increased in mid-March and the pandemic began to sweep across the country, students were pulled from their fieldwork experiences.

“They had to wait two months before they could resume their fieldwork, and some students had to complete their requirements at alternative health care locations,” said Occupational Therapy Assistant Program Director Dr. Julie Bezold. “But they persevered through several virtual study groups and encouragement from their classmates, and today, each of them is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant.”

Students also missed major milestone events, such as the OTA pinning ceremony and an in-person commencement. Like other health science programs, students waited to take their boards until testing sites could reopen.

Occupational therapy assistants work with occupational therapists to help patients at all stages of life develop or improve the skills needed to participate in everyday activities to enjoy independent and productive lives. Their patients are often living with an injury, illness, or disability.

The two-year program at Jackson State combines academic and fieldwork training to prepare students for a career in occupational therapy. The program was developed to help fill a shortage in the region, as many medical facilities have difficulty finding occupational therapy assistants to hire.

FAFSA workshops to be held at JSCC

The time to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2021-2022 academic year has arrived. Jackson State Community College is hosting a series of workshops to assist students and their parents in completing the application. The workshops are currently running with the last one being held on December 14.

Completion of the FAFSA is an essential requirement to access financial aid for attending college. This requirement extends to all those who have applied for or receive the last-dollar scholarships known as Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect.

John Brandt, Director of Financial Aid, notes that special provisions have been made for this year’s workshops to allow for a safe environment for both attendees and workers during the event. “Only four students at a time, along with their parent or guardian, will be allowed in the computer lab,” said Brandt. “Attendees must make an appointment in advance by completing the form at jscc.edu/appt.”

Brandt encourages everyone to attend the free workshops at JSCC. “This is a great opportunity to take care of this essential detail for receiving financial assistance of any kind,” said Brandt. “With a small amount of preparation, students can complete this task in approximately 30 minutes, and we are more than happy to help.”

The documentation needed at the workshop includes tax returns, W2 forms, amounts for child support paid or received, and any other relevant financial documents for the 2019 tax year. New students planning to enroll in the spring 2021 term will need documents for the 2018 tax year. Applicants who are dependents should bring a parent with them.

For a complete listing of dates and times, visit jscc.edu/fafsa. Call 731-425-2605 for any other questions.

Every graduate in the Respiratory Care Program passes credentialling exam

Graduates from Jackson State Community College’s Respiratory Care Program achieved a 100 percent pass rate on the first part of their national credentialing exam on their road to become Registered Respiratory Therapists.

The exam administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care features two parts – the written Therapist Multiple Choice Exam and the Clinical Simulation exam. All 10 graduates passed the written exam on their first attempt – a first for Jackson State’s program.

Four students have taken and passed the second exam on their first attempt, and they have set up times to help the remaining students pass. Students must pass both exams to become Registered Respiratory Therapists.

“We are celebrating from the rooftops today,” said Cathy Garner, Respiratory Care Program Director. “When they all pass the CSE on the first attempt, we will be shouting it from the rooftops.”

Each student passed the first exam with a high enough score to make them eligible to take the second. That benchmark is a score of 92. Jackson State’s lowest score was 101; its highest was a school record of 126.

Jackson State launched its Respiratory Care Program in 2018 to fill a growing demand for respiratory therapists in West Tennessee and provide a new alternative for students pursuing a career in health care.

Respiratory therapists focus on patients with breathing difficulties, from newborns with underdeveloped lungs to elderly patients with a chronic disease like emphysema. There are many specialties respiratory therapists can pursue, such as critical care, home care, case management, pulmonary rehabilitation, pulmonary diagnostics, sleep medicine, and surface and air transport. The work environment is often fast and fluid, Garner said.

“We work under the direction of a physician, and we provide an assessment of a patient to determine the kind of therapy a patient needs,” Garner said. “We focus on the cardiopulmonary system – any patient having any difficulties related to the lungs.”

Respiratory therapists work with mechanical ventilators and artificial airways, respond to code-blue resuscitative efforts, and treat patients from the front door of the hospital to the back, Garner said. Students who want to pursue a medical career but want an alternative to nursing should consider the program, she added.

JSCC to continue online format for spring term

Jackson State Community College administration announced that the college will continue the modified format adopted for the fall semester due to continued high infection rates of COVID-19. The college currently offers classes in online, FLEX, and hybrid formats.

“It was a difficult decision to not return to traditional in-person classes,” said college president Dr. George Pimentel, “but the recent uptick in COVID cases and the beginning of flu season make the decision obvious. We don’t want to put our students, faculty, and staff at risk nor do we want to be in the position of having to quickly move all classes back to an online environment.” It was also noted that beginning the semester in an online environment will be sustainable and will promote a stable learning environment throughout the spring semester.

Traditional online classes have no changes in the method of delivery. The FLEX format utilizes a delivery platform such as Zoom, BlueJeans, Teams, etc. which meets on a regular class schedule and provides face-to-face contact between students and faculty. Students are required to meet for FLEX classes on the same schedule as they would for traditional in-person classes.

The hybrid format is utilized for classes that have labs requiring a hands-on component such as healthcare professions, engineering systems, computer information, organic chemistry, etc. Students with hybrid schedules meet for classes online and labs in person.

“We want students to know we are here to support them through this challenging time,” said Pimentel. “Jackson State offices are open and accessible to students and the public by appointment.” The appointment form is located at the top of the homepage at www.jscc.edu. All guests and students not enrolled in hybrid classes are required to schedule an appointment prior to coming on campus. Links to information about JSCC’s phased reopening plan, campus screening, and appointment forms can be found at the top of the college’s homepage at www.jscc.edu.

The college works to provide technology to students who need computers or internet access. A number of resources are available to students on the C-19 update page at www.jscc.edu/covid. Students needing additional assistance are encouraged to contact the college library@jscc.edu or 731-425-2609. Live chat is also available to students at www.jscc.edu/chat.

“We sincerely want to reopen all Jackson State facilities and restore a sense of normalcy to what has truly been a challenging situation for everyone,” said Pimentel. “Thank you to everyone for their patience and understanding during this time.”

Veterans Day program at JSCC goes to virtual format

Jackson State Community College will honor veterans virtually for Veterans Day this year. Each year, the college takes time to honor the men and women who have served or are serving in the United States military.

The program will be available Wednesday, November 11 on the college homepage for the college and community to access. There will be a series of recorded messages from JSCC’s president, Dr. George Pimentel, and Senior Chief Gregory Perrin, active duty in the United States Navy. The program also will feature the college’s choir, “Innovation,” singing the “Service Medley,” “The National Anthem,” and leading viewers in “The Pledge of Allegiance.” The program will conclude with the National Roll Call. Four JSCC faculty and staff members will read the names of the 143 Tennessee residents who have given their lives in service to the country since September 11, 2001.

While not in the program, JSCC would like to congratulate Dr. Billy Wesson for being named one of the first recipients of the Tennessee Board of Regents’ “Chancellor’s Commendation for Military Veterans.” Dr. Wesson served in the U.S. Army for many years and retired in 2013. He obtained the rank of United States Army Reserve Sergeant First Class and served as a Master Instructor for the Army Basic Instructor Course. Dr. Wesson has served Jackson State for more than 30 years, currently as a professor of reading. Dr. Wesson will receive the commendation at a later date.