Archive for Southwestern Community College

SCC Foundation scholarship recipients honored

One is fresh out of Smoky Mountain High School and aims to become a psychologist so she can help people suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The other spent the past 23 years in the building, construction and real estate brokerage industries in Macon County but now yearns for a more stable career in the field of business administration.

Hannah White of Webster and Otto-resident Roger Davis may be at very different stages in their lives, but they also have a lot in common: They’re starting the next chapter at Southwestern Community College, they were awarded the first Student Success Scholarships this fall and they were featured speakers at the SCC Foundation’s Scholarship Reception on Sept. 17 at the Jackson Campus.

More than 60 recipients were honored as were the donors who made the scholarships possible.

“I’m very proud,” said Davis, a native of Detroit, Mich., who grew up in Madison County before moving to Otto. He’s attended SCC the past two years on a part-time basis while working part-time. “It’s a sizeable scholarship; it will help a lot. ‘Success’ says it all. I work hard for the grades I make, and I hope it will help improve my life.”

White, who was raised in Andrews before moving to Cullowhee 2-1/2 years ago, is enrolled in Southwestern’s college transfer program.

“This scholarship means a lot to me,” White said. “I feel really blessed and honored, and I appreciate everyone who helped make the Student Success Scholarships a reality.

“I love Southwestestern,” White added. “It’s small enough that you get the student-teacher interaction, but it’s big enough that you get to have different people in all your classes.”

The Student Success Campaign is the most ambitious fundraising effort in SCC’s 51-year history. Phase 1 of the campaign was achieved last fall as SCC was able to fully leverage a federal challenge grant that matched the first $300,000 raised.

The campaign now has more than $650,000 in the bank, and Phase II is underway with the goal of reaching the $1 million mark.

“Every one of our scholarship recipients should feel extremely proud of their accomplishments,” said Brett Woods, director of the SCC Foundation. “Hearing the first Student Success Scholarship recipients tell their stories was inspiring to everyone there, and I’m excited to think about how many more students we’ll be able to help when we reach the $1 million mark.

SCC earns another Top 10 national ranking

Even without an intercollegiate athletic program, Southwestern Community College spends a lot of time in national Top 10 rankings. A new ranking has SCC at No. 7 in the country.

The latest organization to place SCC among the United States’ best community colleges is WalletHub, a personal finance website that compared 670 institutions using four dimensions (Cost and financing, classroom experience, education outcomes and career outcomes) to produce its ranking.

“We’re honored to see our college this high on the list, although I truly believe we are in this position because we have the best faculty and students in the country,” said Dr. Don Tomas, president of SCC. “For more than 50 years, our No. 1 focus has been on helping our students succeed. As long as we continue to accomplish that, the national and statewide rankings will take care of themselves.”

WalletHub’s report claims that its analysis “draws in part on the results of the annual Community College Survey of Student Engagement conducted by the University of Texas at Austin.”

Over the past decade, SCC consistently ranked high in Washington Monthly’s national rankings. Southwestern, which serves Jackson, Macon, Swain Counties and the Qualla Boundary, regularly earns high marks in the North Carolina Community College System’s performance measures report.

SCC offers more than 70 academic programs in a wide variety of fields ranging from health sciences and career technologies to college transfer.

In addition to ranking individual insitutions, WalletHub also analyzed states with the best community college systems. North Carolina is 11th on that list.

“It’s extremely difficult to find a ranking system that’s fair for comparing colleges across the country since states may have different strategies and standards of success,” said Dr. Thom Brooks, executive vice president for instruction and student services at SCC. “We are pleased to see SCC so high on this particular list, and we will continue striving to enhance the learning experience for our students in the days and years ahead.”

National Park Service designates SCC to pilot nation’s first 650-hour training program

0828_SLET When National Park Service officials increased Seasonal Law Enforcement Training from 400 hours to 650, they decided to use Southwestern Community College’s Public Safety Training Center as the pilot program for the new regimen.

The decision was not made randomly.

“SCC-PSTC consistently demonstrates a high standard and delivers a high quality of instruction,” said Mark Cutler, Branch Chief of Seasonal Law Enforcement Training for the National Park Service. He was in Macon County in mid-August for the pilot program’s launch.

“Plus, they have the necessary resources available,” Cutler added. “They’re what we consider a ‘Tier 1’ academy; they’ve met or exceeded all criteria we set out.”

SCC first offered the SLETP program in 1978. Only six other schools across the country are accredited to offer the program, which makes successful graduates eligible for a Type II commission in the NPS.

Twenty-one recruits representing 14 states and one U.S. territory started the pilot program, which is technically SCC’s 96th SLET class – though this session will contain significantly more training in all seven critical areas: legal, behavioral science, enforcement operations, patrol procedures/scenarios, firearms (pistols, rifles, shotguns), driving and physical techniques for subject control.

Current recruits hail from far away as Alaska and Puerto Rico.

“We’re wanting to erase the training disparity between seasonal and permanent rangers,” Cutler said. “We’re increasing all aspects of the training so that graduates will get broader preparation for what will be expected of them in the field.”

Southwestern offers SLETP twice annually, preparing graduates for assignment to one of more than 400 parks, monuments and other facilities within the 50 states – as well as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam – under the authority and jurisdiction of the NPS.

Overseeing the training are Curtis Dowdle, Dean of SCC’s Public Safety Training; Mitch Boudrot, SCC’s Law Enforcement Training Director/Coordinator/Instructor; and Don Coleman, SCC’s National Park Service Law Enforcement Training Instructor.

“We’re honored that the National Park Service holds us in such high regard that they’ve appointed us to launch this expanded curriculum,” said Curtis Dowdle, Dean of Public Safety Training at SCC. “We do not take this designation lightly, and our instructors will continue to deliver the same high quality of training the NPS has come to expect.”

New Traffic Pattern at SCC for Back to School

Due to the ongoing nature of multiple construction projects on and around the Jackson Campus, Southwestern Community College officials encourage faculty, staff, students and visitors to check the college’s website and social media outlets for updates before fall semester classes start on Monday, Aug. 17.

Road construction related to the R5000 project will not be completed before fall classes begin, so there will be only one entrance into the Jackson Campus. The middle turn lane from NC Highway 116 has been shortened to roughly 2-3 car lengths, so vehicles waiting to turn left into College Drive will spill into the primary westbound lane at peak traffic times in the morning hours of school days.

R5000 as well as other on-campus construction projects will also alter both pedestrian and vehicle traffic patterns.

SCC Foundation’s gala nets more than $51,000 to support student scholarships

Thanks to a significant contribution from presenting sponsor Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and the generosity of more than 180 attendees on July 25, the Southwestern Community College Foundation’s “Bluegrass, Blue Jeans & Bling” gala yielded more than $51,000 that will be used to create the $1 million endowed Student Success fund.

Harrah’s presenting sponsorship allowed the SCC Foundation to put about 90 percent of funds raised directly into the Student Success Campaign – the most ambitious fundraising effort in college history.

“We are so grateful for the phenomenal support and hospitality of everyone at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort,” said Dr. Don Tomas, president of SCC. “Everyone seemed to have a wonderful evening, and we’re thrilled to have been able to raise this much money to benefit our students.”

The gala served as an unofficial kickoff to Phase 2 of the Student Success Campaign, which aims to raise more than $1 million. SCC successfully completed Phase 1 by fully leveraging a federal matching grant in October.

That U.S. Department of Education challenge grant doubled the first $300,000 raised by the campaign, which now has more than $700,000 in the bank.

“We’re well on our way in the ‘March to a Million,’” said Brett Woods, director of the SCC Foundation. “I continue to be humbled by the generosity of people in our community who recognize the value of Southwestern and the way we serve Jackson, Macon, Swain Counties and the Qualla Boundary.”

For the upcoming (2015-16) academic year, 226 students applied for scholarships through the SCC Foundation. Enough resources were available to fund just 61 of those requests.

The Student Success Campaign is an effort to bridge that gap between need and availability. Interest from the money raised so far is being used to fund two scholarships for the 2015-16 academic year.

“We want to do more, and we need help from the community to reach the million-dollar mark,” said Lynda Parlett, executive director of institutional development at SCC. “Our ultimate goal is to someday be able to offer a hand up to every one of our students who needs it.”

Crowds flock to SCC’s 50th open house scholarship scavenger hunt

KarenaMasonKarena Mason of Franklin won the grand prize of a full-year scholarship at Southwestern Community College’s 50th anniversary open house celebration and scholarship scavenger hunt Friday, April 10, at SCC’s Jackson Campus.

Among the roughly 500 people who attended the event, 96 participated in the scavenger hunt. Each participant had to visit three separate program presentations, each at a different building. Upon successfully completing the hunt, participants’ names were placed in a drawing that evening in the Burrell Conference Center.

Karena Mason’s parents – LaRessie and Mark Mason – graduated from SCC in the mid-1990s.

“This is an answered prayer,” LaRessie Mason said. “The whole idea of being able to win a scholarship was great. But when I heard the faculty and staff gave so much of the money, it made it even more special because it’s from their hearts.

“It was neat to come back,” she added. “I hadn’t been back in that capacity in years, and it was so neat to see that it’s still the same. And that’s what I wanted Karena to see: that the teachers care about their students.”

Other winners included Taylor Medlin ($1,000 scholarship) of Tuckasegee; William Bateman ($500 scholarship) of Franklin; and Jesica Palacios ($250 scholarship) of Waynesville. Seven gift certificates (three worth $100 each and five worth $50 each) to the SCC bookstore were also awarded.

All prizes were provided through the donations of SCC faculty and staff with support from the SCC Foundation.

“It was heartwarming to see all these people here helping us celebrate Southwestern’s 50th anniversary,” said Dr. Don Tomas, SCC president. “And it was truly gratifying knowing that these scholarships helped out several area families. We’re very pleased to know these students will be attending SCC in the near future, and we hope everyone who participated in the scholarship scavenger hunt now considers Southwestern as their top college of choice.”

Faculty and staff representing a wide variety of SCC’s programs provided demonstrations and answered questions throughout the event, and the Mountain Area Medical Lift (MAMA) helicopter made an appearance.

Representatives from each board of commissioners in SCC’s service area (Jackson, Macon and Swain counties) were present to read a joint resolution. N.C. Senator Jim Davis and Webster Mayor Nick Breedlove also read resolutions.

Scott Baker named SCC’s vice president for information technology

Scott Baker will become SCC’s vice president for information technology on Jan. 1.

Scott Baker will become SCC’s vice president for information technology on Jan. 1.

After serving Southwestern Community College in dual roles the past few months, Scott Baker has been named Southwestern Community College’s vice president for information technology.

Baker has been the dean of career technologies for four years, and he’s led the information technology department since Dr. Ryan Schwiebert left in August to become the vice president for information technology services at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh.

A Jackson County native, Baker will become SCC’s permanent vice president for information technology on Jan. 1. A search is underway to find a new dean of career technologies.

“Scott has done an exceptional job guiding our information technology department on an interim basis these past few months, and we’re pleased to move him to that position on a permanent basis,” said Dr. Don Tomas, president of SCC. “He has an extensive background in information technology from a professional and instructional standpoint. I expect him to be able to reach across all sectors of the College to provide leadership, service and expertise in Information Technology to faculty, staff and students.”

Baker earned his bachelor’s of science degree from UNC Charlotte (1992) and his master’s of science from East Carolina (2007). He was a full-time faculty member at SCC from 2004-2010.

Now in its 50th year of serving Jackson, Macon, Swain Counties and the Qualla Boundary, Southwestern has been a part of Baker’s life since he was a young boy growing up in Webster.

His father, Bob Baker, taught adjunct upholstery classes at Southwestern. Heather Baker, Scott’s wife, also served as an adjunct instructor at SCC.

And Renee Cohen, Scott’s mother-in-law, served as career technologies division chair. She retired from SCC before Scott started at the college. They even worked with the same administrative assistant, Claudia Buchanan.

“I am very honored to be selected for this position at SCC,” said Baker, who attended Fairview Elementary and graduated from Sylva-Webster in 1988. “There has been an overwhelming level of support from faculty, staff, and administration shown towards me in this position. I really appreciate the opportunity to keep our college as one of the top in the state and the nation. … It is great to be part of a place that makes such a difference in our community and people’s lives.”

SCC to host political debate series

0915_DebateThe mere mention of words like “political debate” may cause some college students’ eyes to glaze over.

That’s not the case with members of Dr. Bucky Dann’s “Social Problems” class at Southwestern Community College.

Since the start of the fall semester, they’ve been studying up on regional and statewide issues in preparation for a series of debates that will be hosted in the Burrell Building conference center at SCC’s Jackson Campus over the next few weeks. Dr. Dann’s students will select and ask all questions of candidates at each event.

“A lot of times, debates are for older people,” said Gabrielle Beam, a 19-year-old Bryson City resident who’s pursuing an Associate of Arts degree at SCC. “I don’t think many people expect a teenager to care, much less know about these kinds of issues. So it’s cool to have this opportunity.”

The first debate, set for 7 p.m. on Sept. 25, will feature the six candidates (Independent Jack Debnam; Republicans Doug Cody and Charles Elders; and Democrats Boyce Deitz, Brian McMahan and Joe Ward) who are vying for three seats on the Jackson County Board of Commissioners. On Oct. 9, Democratic N.C. Representative Joe Sam Queen (D) will debate Republican challenger Mike Clampitt (R). And on Oct. 30, N.C. Senator Jim Davis (R) will face challenger Jane Hipps (D).

The public is invited to attend all three, and WRGC radio (540 AM) of Sylva plans to broadcast each one live.

“It’s really important to be unbiased,” Beam said. “The great thing is that our classmates are really diverse. We all come from different backgrounds, and we’re all going to have input into which questions are asked. I think it’ll be fun.

Another of Dr. Dann’s students, 16-year-old Early College student Kendra Graham, said she and her classmates are taking seriously the responsibility of being granted such significant roles at the debates.

“I’m a little nervous to be honest,” said Graham, who lives in Cullowhee. “But it’ll be nice to surprise people who may not think 16- or 17-year-olds are engaged in the political process.”

“We want to style our questions so that each candidate can answer from a neutral zone and know that they’re not being picked on,” Graham added.

To prepare students for the commissioners’ debate, Dr. Dann has invited Jackson County media to attend a class session and provide insight on some of the critical issues facing Jackson County.

Dr. Dann said he’s been impressed by how his students have embraced this challenge.

“Preparing for this debate has involved a lot of research,” Dr. Dann said. “Having our students ask questions that they’ve prepared and selected for these events is a key element of the learning process, and I’m very proud of their approach to this event. I am confident that everyone who attends will be impressed with our students, and more importantly, we’ll all learn a lot more about the candidates and where they stand.”

Debnams Give to SCC’s Student Success Campaign

Over the 26 years that Jack and Gail Debnam have owned Western Carolina Properties, they’ve noticed the essential role Southwestern Community College plays in the region.

SCC’s ability to quickly adapt to the changing needs of Jackson, Macon, Swain Counties and the Qualla Boundary was the primary reason the Debnams decided recently to give $1,000 to the college’s Student Success Campaign.

“SCC offers a product that’s more agile than the typical higher education,” Jack Debnam said. “They try to meet the demand of what our population and businesses need, and they’re better aligned to do that.”

The most ambitious fundraising effort in the Southwestern Community College Foundation’s history, the Student Success Campaign aims to narrow the gap between scholarship need and availability by raising more than $1 million through community’s generosity and with the help of a federal challenge grant.

Every dollar donated up to approximately $300,000 will be matched, dollar for dollar, by the U.S. Department of Education.

“Generous gifts like the one the Debnams made are going to make it possible for more students than ever before to get a quality education at Southwestern,” said Mary Otto Selzer, director of the SCC Foundation. “We are pleased that Jack and Gail are so keenly aware of Southwestern’s significant impact on the region, and we are thrilled by their support.”

The Debnams’ daughter Cori and son-in-law Jason attended SCC, and Jack Debnam said he’s particularly impressed by the fact that 90 percent of Southwestern graduates remain in the area after receiving their degrees, diplomas and/or certificates.

“As a commissioner, I’m a firm believer in supporting our local community,” Jack Debnam said. “Through SCC, you get more bang for your buck.”

Southwestern Community College Hosts Political Debate Series

Southwestern Community College will be hosting a series of political debates over the next few weeks at the Jackson Campus. Students in the “Social Problems” class are studying and researching regional and statewide issues, and they’ll be asking questions in these debates.


Thursday, Sept. 25 (7 p.m.) – Jackson County Commissioners

Doug Cody (R)

Boyce Deitz (D)

Jack Debnam (R)

Charles Elders (R)

Brian McMahan (D)

Joe Ward (D)


Thursday, Oct. 9 (7 p.m.) – NC House

Mike Clampitt (R)

Joe Sam Queen (D)


Thursday, Oct. 30 ( 7 p.m.) – NC Senate

Jim Davis (R)

Jane Hipps (D)


Expect New Traffic Patterns at SCC

Students who’ve not been by Southwestern Community College’s Jackson Campus this summer are in for a surprise when they return Monday, Aug. 18, for the first day of classes.

The NCDOT project, R-5000 has arrived at Southwestern’s doorstep resulting in some changes students should be aware of when navigating campus. Construction of new concrete box culverts carrying Mill Creek and storm drainage underneath the Balsam parking lot “A1” has created a giant excavated pit.

All traffic for the Burrell Building will have to use the entrance nearest the bus garage from NC-116. This entrance should also be used for all wanting to park in the remaining 180-plus spaces of the Balsam lot “A1.” All other campus traffic will need to bypass the original entrance (now blocked off) and instead use the temporary entrance in front of the National Guard Armory from NC-116.

Temporary ADA parking for the Balsam Center has been added on the side nearest the Armory. NCDOT has requested the one-way drive running in front of the Balsam Center be closed and only used for emergency use.


210th Military Police Unit Set To Return Home On Friday

The NC National Guard has announced the return of the 210th Military Police Company (Forward Detachment) unit with Armories in Franklin, Sylva, and Murphy NC will be greeted with “Welcome Home” ceremony on Friday May 16th at 1:00 p.m at the lake Junaluska Terrance Hotel and Conference Center. The ceremony is open to the public and veteran’s groups are encouraged to attend. This Unit comprised of 30 soldiers was deployed in May 2013 in a ceremony at Southwestern Community College. Their mission was law and order operations and were equipped to provide those services at their assigned base. The 210th National Guard unit is commanded by Captain James Rossi and the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge is First Sargent Timothy Schwab. Their rear Detachment commanders are Captain Jason Porter and First Sargent Willard Lackey. Their primary assigned duty station while deployed was the Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.

The accomplishments of the 210th MP unit from the North Carolina National Guard were: Conducted Law and Order operations on the largest strategic base in the Afghanistan theater of operations. Worked directly for the Garrison Commander (O-6), NATO Installation Commander (O-7), and the Division Commanding General (O-8) to protect over 32,000 resident Service Members and Civilians from criminal threats. Deterred criminal activity, which interferes with combat readiness, provided community assistance, developed crime prevention programs, and promoted a safe environment. Directly supported the Base Defense Operations Center by locating and cordoning over 90 Indirect Fire attack Points of Impact. Also operated the only Field Detention Site in Regional Command-East, allowing for the successful detention of several named targets. The unit received numerous awards and commendations including the BSM x3, MSM x3, ARCOM x21, AAM x7. There no Purple Hearts issued during the mission which indicated all the soldiers served their tour of duty with no combat related injuries and no loss of life of any member of the unit. Many felt this was a dangerous mission with the deployment in May 2013, but the fact that the unit returned with no injuries nor loss of life speaks highly of their units leadership, training, and superior service. One of the interesting stories from the deployment is the Unit was co-located at Bagram Airfield with sister NC-ARNG unit, the 211th MP CO. for a portion of deployment. Two brothers SGT Marc Cook(210th) and SSG Brandon Cook (211th) served together.
Special thanks to area businesses and institutions supporting the individuals during deployment included Hayesville American Legion Post #532, and the Western North Carolina Veterans Council.

Rabbit Creek Pottery Wins Dillsboro Business Competition

After four months of suspense and tough competition Anne Burrell who operates Rabbit Creek Pottery in Dillsboro was proclaimed the winner of the $5000.00 business development grant competition. The award was announced Thursday at Southwestern Community College. Ms Burrell told WRGC News that they grant would turn their business around. They will now be able to install their Kiln and expand inventory and operations. When asked about the uniqueness of their pottery style, she said that each of the potters in Dillsboro offers a different style which makes the town attractive because of the diversity. The contest has been a collaborative effort among SCC WCU, Dillsboro, and local sponsors. The contestants went through an extensive application process, attended numerous small business management and entrepreneurial classes, developed a a business operational document including a plan for business operations, management team, capitalization, management team, legal ramifications, start-up, and employees. The winner also had a limited time to get their business operational in Dillsboro. Rabbit Creek Pottery was already open for business but were eligible for the competition because they had been open for only a short time before the competition started. In addition to Rabbit Creek pottery the other top two contestants were John Fault and Megan Orr who proposed a Dillsboro event shuttle service, and Anthony Brown who proposed a water park similar to a venue near Benson, NC which pulls skiers through the water with zip lines. Mayor Mike Fitzgerald gave Rabbit Creek Pottery a welcome to Dillsboro, and Tommy Dennison with the WCU Small Business Center who helped with the contest was happy with the intensity of the process and felt that the judges made an excellent decision. Mayor Fitzgerald said the other top finishers in the competition would have their privilege license fee waived if they opened their business in Dillsboro this year.

SCC Small Business Competitions

SCCMountainLogoSouthwestern Community College is holding small business competitions where everyone wins. Roughly 20 aspiring entrepreneurs have regularly attended the free weekly sessions at SCC’s Macon Campus. They’ve covered a range of topics during the sessions. Organized by SCC’s Small Business Center, the series was a result of the collaboration between the Macon County Certified Entrepreneurial Community Leadership Team, Western Carolina University, the Dillsboro/WCU Partnership Committee and SCC. The winning business plan will yield $5,000. The grand prize in each contest will be announced in April. Throughout the series, students work through real-life scenarios and learn how to make their business ideas come to life. For more information about the Small Business Center at SCC call 399-4211.

SCC Heath Science Programs

SCCMountainLogoSeveral of Southwestern Community Colleges Health Science programs are currently accepting applications for the fall semester. The last day to apply for the respiratory therapy, radiography and medical sonography is March 31.Dr. Mitch Fischer Dean of Health Sciences at SCC says “Acceptance into the programs is often competitive, and recommend that anyone interested in these fields apply as quickly as possible,” For more information, visit www.southwesterncc.edu or contact SCC’s admissions department at 339-4352.