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18 Doctoral Students Chosen to Represent Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research at National Conferences as Belk Center Fellows

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When Anna Jump began her journey through higher education, she was an immigrant with no English language proficiency. Through her community college education, she said, she was able to achieve personal growth and find her purpose. 

Her own experience showed her the importance of community colleges and now, as a student in the NC State College of Education’s Community College Leadership doctoral program, she is striving to advocate for others like her. It’s a goal she will have further opportunity to pursue through her role as a 2024 Belk Center Fellow. 

“The fellowship is more than an honor; it is a commitment to represent and advocate for

immigrants striving to access higher education. It signifies trust in my ability to contribute to the

narrative and initiatives surrounding community college leadership advancement,” Jump said. “This fellowship is an acknowledgment of my progress and a gateway to new opportunities. It inspires me to advance my efforts with determination, supported by the resources from the Belk Center and NC State.”

Jump is one of 18 doctoral students chosen to participate in the 2024 Belk Center Fellows program through the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research. Seven students, including Jump, will attend Achieving the Dream’s DREAM 2024 conference in Orlando, Florida, from Feb. 19-22 while the other 11 fellows will attend the League for Innovation in the Community College’s Innovations Conference in Anaheim, California, from March 17-20.

“Being a Belk Center Fellow at the League of Innovations Conference will have an enormous impact on my career goals. The conference provides a unique learning platform, offering valuable insights and innovative practices from nationwide leaders,” said doctoral student Adam Wade. “The conference’s focus on transformative practices, student success and institutional excellence aligns with my goal of advocating for equitable and accessible learning opportunities. In essence, this fellowship and conference are pivotal for my journey, and the learning that will occur from it will ultimately lead to my growth as a leader.”

The Belk Center’s Fellows Program began in the 2017-18 academic year through a partnership with Achieving the Dream — a non-government reform movement focused on helping community college students have better economic opportunities — and the creation of a cohort of DREAM Fellows. It has since expanded to include a partnership with the League for Innovation in the Community College.

The goal of the fellows program is to bring together a select group of doctoral students to listen and engage in national conversations surrounding community college and student success.

 “Achieving The Dream is pleased to once again welcome a talented cohort of Belk Center Fellows to DREAM. This is an opportunity for these future community college leaders to connect with current research in the field and to learn from leading practitioners working on our colleges’ most salient challenges. Our partnership with the Belk Center and North Carolina State University is a longstanding one that allows us to support the next generation of leaders and innovators who will partner with us to transform community colleges into catalysts for equitable and economically vibrant communities,” said Mandi Koch, associate director of research and assessment for Achieving the Dream. 

For Aaron Mabe, whose current role with North Carolina Community College System provides him with an opportunity to work with all 58 of the state’s community colleges, he sees his selection as a fellow and invitation to attend the Innovations Conference as an opportunity to collaborate on creative solutions to advance change in the field. 

“The conference provides a platform for exchanging ideas, learning about best practices and staying abreast of the latest developments in community college leadership,” said Mabe, the program coordinator for Career and College Promise with the North Carolina Community College System. “This experience will significantly contribute to my ultimate career goals in several ways. Mostly, the opportunity to engage in cutting-edge research and effective leadership strategies will equip me with valuable insights to implement positive changes at the System Office, specifically with dual enrollment programs.”

Tonya Greene, who will attend the DREAM conference, is also looking forward to taking what she learns through her experience as a Belk Center Fellow and applying it to her day-to-day work. 

“This fellowship and its experiences will significantly enhance my capacity to lead [Wake Technical Community College’s] Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning toward new heights of educational innovation and faculty development, ultimately contributing to our community college’s broader goal of student success and academic excellence,” she said. “Moreover, the opportunity to collaborate with academic leaders and peers at the conference will strengthen my ability to lead our college’s efforts toward diversity, equity and inclusion, aligning with our mission to provide a supportive and inclusive learning environment for all students.”

Below is a full list of 2024 Belk Center Fellows:

DREAM Conference Fellows:

  • Jennifer L. Campbell, Academic Advisor at Davidson Davie Community College
  • Brandy Dunlap, Dean of Continuing Education and Workforce Development at Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute
  • Tonya Greene, Director of the Center for Excellence In Teaching and Learning at Wake Technical Community College
  • Anna Jump, Alumni Data and Reporting Specialist at North Carolina State University
  • LaSonya T. Moore, Section 504 Coordinator at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
  • Monica M. Simmons, Department Chair of Medical Office and Legal Professions at Forsyth Technical Community College
  • Amanda Jewett Zekanis, Director of Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) and History Instructor at Johnston Community College

League for Innovation in the Community College Innovations Conference Fellows

  • Beth Brehler, Associate Vice President for Student Success at Alamance Community College
  • Melisa Bryant, Department Chair at Forsyth Technical Community College
  • Jody R. Call, Executive Director of Institutional Research and Planning at Wilkes Community College
  • Erica Sales Harper, Program Director of Medical Assisting and Human Services Technology at Wilkes Community College
  • Laura Ashley Lamm, Communications and Strategic Initiatives Consultant at Carolinas Gateway Partnership
  • Aaron Mabe, Program Coordinator for Career and College Promise with the North Carolina Community College System
  • Mary Elizabeth McIntosh, Upward Bound Director at Cape Fear Community College
  • Amanda Melniczek, Associate Professor of Communication at Guilford Technical Community College
  • Janice Stowell, Doctoral Student at North Carolina State University
  • Adam Wade, Dean of Student Onboarding and Success at Central Carolina Community College
  • Ashley Mackey Whitworth, Career and College Promise Student Success Coach at Guilford Technical Community College