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Community College Leadership Program Honored for Component That Pairs Doctoral Students with Mentors

Algie Gatewood working with a student in the NC State College of Education's community college leadership program

The NC State College of Education’s Community College Leadership doctoral program was recognized for its mentorship program during the 2021 LEAD Awards presented at the virtual Human Experience Summit in February.

The Executive Mentorship Program component of the doctoral program won first place in the Best Mentorship Program and Custom Content Programming with Emphasis on Leadership/Organizational Development categories at the awards ceremony presented by, the largest network of human resources executives.

“The Ed.D. program being recognized with this award is meaningful for many reasons, but perhaps the most important to me is the acknowledgement of the efforts that executive mentors, program faculty and students collaboratively contribute to the overall success of the program,” said Carrol Warren, Ed.D., assistant teaching professor and coordinator of the Ed.D. program in community college leadership. “This award provides confirmation of the program’s value and provides even further support that it contributes to the mission of our university and our community college stakeholders.”

The Community College Leadership doctoral program allows graduates to develop competencies to lead transformational change in community colleges with a focus on improved outcomes.

Launched in 2017, the Executive Mentorship Program component connects doctoral students with experts in the field of community college education who serve as mentors while giving students access to a larger network of individuals who can help to guide their work and professional endeavors.

“Students remain connected with their mentors beyond graduation and report immense benefits of interactions with their mentors during early career, career attainment and career progression,” said Assistant Teaching Professor Michelle Bartlett, Ph.D.

For Elena Shilova Guy ‘17MED, ‘20EDD, participation in the Executive Mentorship Program helped her to broaden her knowledge of community colleges.

As a teacher at Archer Lodge Middle School in Clayton, North Carolina, Guy enrolled in the Community College Leadership doctoral program to learn more about ways to connect K-12 education and community colleges to better prepare students for postsecondary education.

Since she was one of only a handful of students in her cohort who did not come from a community college background prior to enrolling, she said that being paired with mentor Brian Merritt, Ph.D., who was vice president of learning and workforce development and chief academic officer at Central Carolina Community College at the time, was crucial to her learning.

“It was like going to a foreign country and I was a tourist with a really good tour guide who taught me what to do and not to do. He welcomed me, showed me how things function and introduced me to the people who worked there,” Guy said. “I knew so little about community colleges and I learned a ton from Dr. Merritt. He was very welcoming and took all of my ideas and gave input. It was always a very nurturing environment.”

After finishing the academic year as an exceptional children and English as a second language teacher, Guy said she hopes to use her experience in the Community College Leadership program to take on a role that would allow her to focus on effective ways to teach children and adults, especially those at the remedial level.

Warren said that seeing students like Guy develop future career goals and even secure a job in the field has been one of the most rewarding aspects of the program.

“One of the most favorite moments of my job is when a student is nominated or even secures a promotional opportunity, in part because of the connection they have with their mentor. This part of the program also allows an opportunity for students to engage with external stakeholders, graduates of the program and other leaders who can contribute to their success,” she said.

James Bartlett, PhD., who has led the Community College Leadership program for the past 15 years and helped grow the program, was also honored as the recipient of the Grand Prize Honors in the Custom Content Programming with Emphasis on Leadership/Organizational Development LEAD Award category.