Local professional reflects on educational journey which began at JSCC

Delita Johnson enrolled at Jackson State Community College right after graduating from North Side High School in 1988.

Like many adults, however, she dropped out of college before she earned her associate degree in business administration to get married and raise a family (she has three sons). “My parents and my religious background encouraged a woman towards marriage and a family more so than education,” said Johnson, who works for the City of Jackson Police Department in the domestic violence unit.

Nearly 15 years later, Johnson returned to Jackson State to complete that degree and continue her education because she wanted to advance her career. After graduating from Jackson State, she continued her education at Union University where she earned a bachelor of science degree in organizational leadership in 2013 and a master’s degree in business administration from Bethel University in 2015. Her final step was a doctorate in business administration from Walden University, specializing in social impact management in 2018.

Her “educational roots,” as she calls them, began at Jackson State. “When I think about Jackson State Community College, I think about the beginning of my educational journey,” Johnson said. “I chose Jackson State because it was affordable and close to home. I also appreciated the personal attention. The teachers were always great.”

When she returned to college, she continued to work full time and raise her children. It was difficult to fit it all in, she said, but she had the support of her mom, husband, and children.

“I wanted to be the best example I could for my children.”

She encourages others in her situation to not give up if they return to college as an adult. She remembers failing algebra three times at Jackson State, but with support from faculty and cohorts, she finally passed the course.

When she finished her coursework and dissertation for her doctorate on Sept. 18, 2018 – her husband, Anthony’s, birthday – Johnson said she had a great feeling of accomplishment. “I did it.” Her degree was conferred on Oct. 28, and she attended her hooding ceremony in Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 19, 2019.

“My educational journey has been phenomenal. I’m so glad I did this,” said Johnson. “My life is so much richer. I thank God for it first, and am grateful for the new career I will be able to pursue.”

With her degrees in place, she would like to teach business at a college. “I’ve always wanted to teach on the collegiate level,” Johnson said. “This is my way of giving back. In fact, I would love to teach at Jackson State. That’s where it all started.”

JSCC art exhibit sets attendance record

Every spring the Jackson State Community College art department sets up an art display in the Nelms Classroom Building. Another annual tradition is a reception where the campus and community can view the art and vote for their favorite entries.

This year there were 121 works of 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional art on display. A record attendance of 161 guests came to view the work of JSCC students. The artists placing in the People’s Choice Awards were:

2-Dimensional

  1. Morgan Borchert
  2. Addie Parker
  3. Ari Lakey

3-Dimensional

  1. Jasmine Williams
  2. Kristin Beard
  3. Brad Shear

Morgan Borchert is a freshman in her second semester at JSCC. She was shocked by the vote and truly honored. Jasmine Williams is in her second year at JSCC.

JSCC hosts state PTK convention

Jackson State hosted the Tennessee Regional Phi Theta Kappa Convention on March 15 and 16. Over 100 Phi Theta Kappa members and advisors from around the state came to Jackson to learn how scholarship, leadership, and service can make a difference in their communities.

During the convention, JSCC’s own Chi Omicron chapter received several awards. Among the awards were the Five-Star Chapter Award, 2nd Place Distinguished Chapter Award, and 2nd Place Distinguished Honors in Action Project Award.

Additionally, Natalie Coffman, JSCC PTK officer, won 1st Place awards in the PTK Tennessee Mosaic Writing Competition for both the Research and Creative Nonfiction categories.

Paid hands-on experience attracts student to high-demand technical career

When Zach Stoops found out about the Advanced Maintenance Technician (AMT) Co-op opportunity at Jackson State Community College, he knew that’s exactly what he wanted to do.

Stoops was already working in the manufacturing field, but the AMT Co-op would give him job experience and a salary while he attended Jackson State and earned an associate degree. He would work three days a week, starting at a salary of $14 an hour, and attend classes two days a week.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to actually get hands-on experience,” said Stoops, who is a co-op employee at Henderson Stamping. “I’m getting paid while I get my degree. Honestly, though, it’s the experience we’re getting that’s important because it’s hard to get a job without experience.”

Cathi Roberts, the AMT Co-op completion coordinator, wants to spread the word about Stoops’ success and that of her other students in the AMT Co-op as the April 15 deadline to apply for the next AMT Co-op cohort nears.

The AMT Co-op, which is part of JSCC’s accredited Engineering Systems Technology Program, is a partnership between Jackson State and 26 area manufacturers. It helps local industry fill an important need for advanced maintenance personnel, Roberts said.

“To be in the AMT Co-op, one must apply, interview, and be hired by one of the manufacturers in the consortium.” About 25 students are accepted into each co-op cohort.

When Stoops graduates in Spring 2020, he expects to be hired at $20 or more an hour.

“Students who graduate on a Saturday are employed full-time on a Monday at an average salary of $20.50 an hour,” Roberts said. “Within two years, they are making $25.29 an hour and working in a rewarding and important field. Manufacturing provides goods and services for everyone.”

Students are learning a broad spectrum of maintenance skills, from turning a wrench to repair machinery to working on a robot. Graduates with these skills are in high demand, she said, as she referred to a survey Jackson State did on its AMT Co-op graduates.
“Ninety-seven percent are placed in employment immediately after graduation. Eighty-five percent of the students who start in the program, complete it. And though the program is designed to put them right to work, some students go on to a four-year college to complete engineering and business degrees, often paid for by their employers.”

Parents should be particularly interested in their children joining the AMT Co-op, she added. Besides the high completion and graduation rates, the co-op students also earn a minimum of $22,000 over the of five semesters of attending classes. While other students are struggling to make ends meet, many of her co-op students are buying their first car or have the money to marry or have a family.

Students in the co-op also must attend team meetings that focus on life skills and soft skills, such as how to save money and team building.

“Parents should love this program,” Roberts said. “This program gives students the opportunity to be economically independent.”

Students interested in the AMT Co-op can apply online at www.jscc.edu/amtapply. They must complete separate applications for admission to Jackson State and for admission to the AMT Co-op. The website provides a checklist of items needed for the AMT Co-op application, including an ungraded 500-word essay. Applications must be postmarked April 15 if they are mailed, or they must be in Roberts office by 4:30 p.m. April 15. Her office is in the McWherter Building at Parkway and F.E Wright Drive.

JSCC’s career & job fair opens to Jackson community for fourth year

It is once again time for the Jackson State Community College Career & Job Fair, an annual event for students and community members to meet with potential employers, fill out job applications, and make great networking contacts for the future. The event will be held on Wednesday, April 10 from 9 a.m. to noon in the gymnasium on the college’s main campus at 2046 North Parkway.

Annette Deaton, Coordinator of Placement and Career Services, says this is the fourth year the fair will be open to the public. She says, “We want our students as well as members of the community to learn about some of the different employment and career options that are available.”

This year there are more than 70 booths expected from employers in and around the Jackson community as well as several recruiters from various higher education institutions. According to Deaton, “the goal is for attendees to leave with some positive connections for their future, which may include finding a job, continuing their education, or changing career paths.”

The American Mobile Job Center, a mobile service complete with computers and specialists, will also be onsite to assist with online employment applications.

Deaton says the Career & Job Fair will be a professional event and appropriate attire and resumes are highly recommended.

For more information about this event, contact Annette Deaton at 731-424-3520 ext. 50315 or by email at adeaton@jscc.edu.

JSCC shares adult-learner enrollment successes at national conference

Jackson State Community College representative Brian Gann spoke at the Achieving the Dream (ATD) Conference last month regarding successful strategies implemented across the campus to assist adult learners in the first two semesters of TN Reconnect. The state-wide initiative provides adult learners over the age of 24 with the opportunity to earn an associate degree tuition-free.

Gann, Jackson State’s vice president for student services, spoke on a panel along with representatives from Southwest Tennessee Community College and Complete Tennessee in February at the annual ATD Conference. The conference brings community colleges from across the nation together to discuss how to better serve its underrepresented populations. Ahead of the fall 2018 launch of TN Reconnect, Jackson State began to prepare for the inevitable increase in students and the unique challenges that would come with this new population. The institution focused its efforts on enrollment management, which helps students who are enrolled persist toward a degree or certificate.

To do this, Jackson State hired a team of Completion Coaches through grant funding to provide wraparound services to students throughout the year; upon enrollment each student is assigned a coach and an academic advisor. The advisor must be met with each semester to ensure the student is moving toward graduation with the correct course loads and requirements. The coaches assist with everything in between, like answering questions about where things are on campus, linking them to community and college resources, and helping them navigate the often difficult journey of being a college student.

Another change was the move to a Monday/Wednesday, Tuesday/Thursday class schedule as well as offering more online and evening courses to better accommodate those with jobs and other obligations. Additionally more than two dozen information sessions were held for prospective Reconnect students in locations around its 14-county service area beginning in spring 2018; staff members were on-hand to answer questions and provide assistance with admission requirements. The campus also expanded its student needs-based services to provide necessities such as food, coats, toiletries and school supplies as well as emergency funds throughout the year.

The results of these efforts have been promising. Reconnect brought an adult student increase of nearly 28% this fall from the previous year. Jackson State has seen a staggering 79.9% retention rate of those students coming back this spring, more than 12% above the retention rate of non-Reconnect adult students. Gann says the institution will continue to expand current offerings and seek out opportunities to assist student success in the future.