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My Student Experience: Community College Leadership Doctoral Students Connect with Current Presidents During Association of Community College Trustees Legislative Seminar

Doctoral students in the NC State College of Education’s Community College Leadership program, led by James Bartlett, associate professor and academic program director, and Michelle Bartlett, associate teaching professor and faculty scholar, recently had an opportunity to connect with experts in their field and develop their talents through participation in the North Carolina Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) Legislative Seminar. 

“The experiences our doctoral students are provided by their mentors are invaluable for their career preparation and far exceed the knowledge that can be obtained in a textbook or lecture,” Michelle Bartlett said.

Upon receiving an invitation from Mark Poarch, president of Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, doctoral students who aspire to careers as community college leaders were able to sit in on March 31 meetings with community college presidents, board of trustee members and community members and were participants in a special session of the seminar to debrief the day’s events. 

“Attending the N.C. ACCT Legislative Seminar was a fantastic experience,” said doctoral student Brian Jones. “My classmates and I gained insightful knowledge of educational priorities that will impact policy-making at both the legislative and community college level for years to come.” 

“This experience offered our doctoral students a unique opportunity to engage with presidents, legislators and board of trustee members in their setting and their discussions,” said W. Dallas Herring Distinguished Professor and Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research Executive Director Audrey Jaeger. “It opened a door to conversations to which they didn’t have prior access. We are grateful to our N.C. Community College Association Presidents and NCACCT partners for their collaboration.”

Poarch extended the invitation for students to participate in the seminar as part of his work in the College of Education’s Executive Mentoring Program, which connects doctoral students with experts in the field of community college education. These experts serve as mentors while giving students access to a larger network of professionals who can help guide the students’ work and career endeavors. 

The program was recognized with a Best Mentorship Program award during the Human Experience Summit in 2021.  The executive mentoring program is supported by the Belk Center of Community College Leadership and Research and led by Carrol Warren, assistant teaching professor and faculty scholar.

 “It’s through the engagement of the incredible group of mentors, that our students gain access to leaders who see value in serving the next generation of community college leaders, and NC State offers this unique opportunity connecting research to practice,” Warren said.

“Mentoring is such a critical component to the learning experience as we work to grow the next generation of community college leaders. As a new community college president, I found my mentors to be extremely instrumental to my success as I adjusted to the role,” Poarch said. “I appreciate NC State’s vision and commitment to embedding a mentoring component into the Ed.D. program as a mechanism to build relationships and trust while enhancing the learning experience for students.” 

Doctoral student Kelli Antonides, who attended the summit, said she appreciated the opportunity to work with community college presidents and the fact that they all took a genuine interest in the students’ future careers as community college leaders. 

Other community college presidents in attendance said they were grateful for the enthusiasm, energy, questions and different perspectives the students brought to the seminar. 

“I enjoyed the debrief session with the students, where they were able to ask questions directly to the presidents. I thought their questions were thoughtful and they prompted some good dialogue among the presidents on the panel,” said Wilkes Community College President Jeff Cox. “Anytime we can engage students in these types of real-world experiences, it is helpful both for the students and those with whom they are engaging.” 

James Bartlett has played a key role in advancing the Ed.D. program forward and shared, “The doctoral program and NC State develops senior leaders that focus on improving teaching and learning, degree completion, transfer success, and labor market outcomes while focussing the connection of workforce education and the local labor market.” 
The Ed.D. program in Community College Leadership at NC State’s College of Education is the premier program in the nation for working professionals who wish to earn their doctorate degree and serve their communities in the highest capacity. The program is now welcoming applications for the next cohort meeting in Raleigh in 2023. Another distance location is offered in Charlotte in 2024. The program is designed to enable students to complete coursework and the dissertation requirement within three years. The early application deadline to apply is August 31, 2022.