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2021-2022 Graduate Student Ambassadors- Stephanie D. Lackey

Program Area of Study

Ed.D., Community College Leadership


Stephanie D. Lackey is a doctoral student in the Community College Leadership Ed.D. program. She serves as the Department Chair of Teacher Academy and Human Services at Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem, NC. She is intricately involved in many grants, boards, committees, and outreach programs across the county and state. She has participated in several North Carolina Community College System initiatives such as serving on the Early Childhood Education – Birth Through Kindergarten Uniform Articulation Agreement and Transfer Committees, Virtual Learning Community, and trauma-informed module development. She currently serves on the NC-ACCESS Executive Team as co-chair. 

Why NC State?

I chose to pursue my graduate education at NC State due to the college’s outstanding reputation in community college leadership. During my career, I have had the privilege of interacting with many leaders with degrees from NC State. Their ability to make data-informed decisions to advance student success, bridge equity gaps, and produce marketable outcomes are evident in their day-to-day practices. In addition, the Belk Center is a leader in research for innovative practices around student success and professional development within North Carolina and the nation. NC State offers the best community college leadership program in the state. 

One insight gained so far…

While a graduate student at NC State, I have developed a deeper insight into the meaning of equitable access and how community colleges can put equity at the forefront of the community college mission. I had the privilege of being a 2021 Belk Center Fellow. As a Fellow, I was able to attend the Achieving the Dream: Dream 2021 conference. The theme “Anchoring a Bold, New Access Agenda” inspired me to reflect upon the evidence-based practices that break down barriers for the underserved. Students enter our college doors bringing with them a story of their life. Every story comes with its own weight, barriers, and predicted outcomes. Supporting students and providing equitable access means addressing not only their advising needs but basic needs and mental health awareness. Colleges can address inequities in higher education access by creating accessible on-ramps to higher education through establishing partnerships with community agencies and companies, K-12 education systems, and local prisons. Extending into the community for financial support, and buildings to hold classes can break down barriers of finances, transportation, time, and childcare. If we evaluate student success data, listen to our students’ needs, colleges can diminish the gaps of equity in North Carolina.