The North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges recently named Stelfanie Williams ’11 EdD President of the Year for 2018. Dr. Williams is the sixth president of Vance-Granville Community College (VGCC), a four-county, multi-campus college serving over 14,000 students annually.
The North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges selected Williams for her tireless efforts in developing innovative training programs for VGCC students and championing technological advances to provide greater academic offerings and support to those students. Also, under her leadership, VGCC introduced the VanGuarantee, a need-based scholarship designed to cover the costs of college for eligible students.
We spoke with Williams about this honor, why she chose education as a career, and how her institution is building a better future for its students.
What does being named President of the Year by the State Board of Community Colleges mean to you?
It is an honor to be named President of the Year. The award reflects the dedication and contributions of the entire VGCC team. I am proud to lead and serve at Vance-Granville Community College, to be a part of the North Carolina Community College System, and to work alongside all the fine educators throughout our state.
What inspired you to choose education as a career?
I love learning, and I enjoy teaching others. I have benefited from great teachers throughout my life—parents, colleagues, and educators—some who imparted knowledge, others who shared wisdom. A great sage in my life was not able to read, but he taught me so much, and I often think of him as I consider the experiences of our students. It is a privilege to make education my profession.
Your work with the VanGuarantee program has received national praise and recognition. In your opinion, why is it important to help eliminate barriers for students?
We realize that students face challenges along the way that can stall their academic progression. Student support services are vital. The VanGuarantee was designed to ensure that students, particularly those with the greatest financial need, would be able to realize their dreams and complete their credentials.
Besides a college degree, what do you hope students gain from an education at Vance-Granville Community College?
Our mission is to “educate, inspire, and support…,” and we believe that quality education should be matched with an inspiring experience and a supportive environment. Students benefit from broad access to all of the experiences that will best prepare them for careers and life. Our approach is seamless education that provides students access to college pathways while in high school, to work-based learning experiences, and to integrated university programs. Some examples of this are our four cooperative early college high schools, providing students an opportunity to earn an associate degree while in high school; intentional opportunities to connect studies with application through apprenticeships, internships, and service learning; and integrated university programs on our campus, like “Eagle Voyage” (with North Carolina Central University) and the “Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses” (RIBN) Partnership (with North Carolina A&T State University), to bring advanced degrees within reach of our students.