Giant steps

Published 8:42 am Thursday, July 16, 2015

AHOSKIE – Sometimes bigger is better.

When the Main Street banners, a joint venture between the town of Ahoskie and Roanoke-Chowan Community College, first arrived last month they weren’t quite large enough.  However, when the newer, larger ones arrived about a week ago to be displayed on the town’s light poles they were just right.

On Wednesday, RCCC president, Dr. Michael Elam, Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice-President Amy Braswell, and several others did a walking tour to view the banners.

The design is a vertical rectangle on a white and royal blue background with the AhoskieTown logo in the banner’s center.  At the top is the logo for Roanoke-Chowan Community College and beneath that are the words, “Home of the Waves”, and the mascot of RCCC.  On the underside, below the town emblem is the words “College Begins Here”.  The blue backdrop and graphics cover two-thirds of the banner facing. To the left of the royal-blue backdrop on the white background – and separated by a sky-blue wave swirl – and running vertical from bottom to top, are the words “Welcome to Ahoskie”, with the town name in large block letters. A sky-blue outline completely frames the royal-blue backdrop.

Tuesday, at the first evening meeting of the Ahoskie Town Council, Elam thanked the group for the cooperative effort that helped bring about the latest venture in civic pride.

“I am dedicated to doing what we can to help re-vitalize our Main Street, and I want to thank you very much for the partnership that we have; including the new flags we have that are up along with your seasonal flags,” the college president said.

Elam said he had received several compliments on the banners from community and business persons.

“They said it looks great,” Elam enthused. “I believe it does too, and we’re just happy you all partnered with us to do that and we look forward to doing many more projects like that.”

Elam also presented to the Council a copy of the President’s Annual Report.

“This gives you a capsulization of some of the highlights we have going on at the college this year and how we are working for you,” Elam stated.

The publication highlights activities and accomplishments undertaken by the college over the past year.

“Some of our staff and faculty have been highlighted for some of the work they are doing in the community,” he said. “We have a motto that says ‘College begins here’ because we’re trying to get our residents to look at Roanoke-Chowan Community College as a college as their first choice, not their last choice or the remaining choice for them.”

The president stated that he hopes RCCC graduates would remain within the community once they had completed their college experience.

“We’re doing what we can to keep our brain trust right here in our own community,” Elam reiterated.

The president cited that RCCC’s Class of 2015 was 119 strong. He also featured Rodney Norfleet, a Student Government Association (SGA) officer and Human Services Technology graduate with an Associate’s degree – and who worked with the college’s recently-hired Career Coach, Susan Melton – as a success story.  Upon his graduation and completion of the coaching program Norfleet has now been hired as a Mental Health Technician at  Vidant-Roanoke-Chowan Hospital.

Elam also said that the RCCC SGA received the “Top Campus” award over the other 57 community colleges and technical schools in the state of North Carolina for the recently completed school year.

Several of the college’s Cosmetology students, in New York City for an international beauty show, were featured on NBC TV’s “Today” Show.

Another success story Elam highlighted was the Hertford County Early College High School program, located within the campus, and how its combination of a high school diploma and transferrable college credit has enabled some of that program’s graduates to get a head start on pursuing higher degrees at four-year institutions.

“These are also people who began their education here, and are one day returning here to set up shop right where it all began for them,” Elam remarked.

While RCCC’s enrollment has declined from a high of 968 students in the fall of 2010, the president says it is continuing to rebound, beginning in 2013.

“It’s starting to climb and we’re going to continue to do what we can to get our enrollment back up to where it needs to be,” he said.

Finally, he touted the college’s Workforce Development Center and the Small Business Center, under the direction of director Dan Joyner.

“This shows how well we work together here in Ahoskie and Hertford County in general,” he emphasized. “We are looking to expand this as much as possible because this is a resource for our businesses and what we offer costs them nothing; we encourage them to just participate in the consultation, training, referral, and other resources.  If we can help one, we are delighted and satisfied.”

For 2014-15, Elam said the college supported 45 entrepreneuer training events with more than 366 attendees involving 1100 training hours and five new businesses were created while another local business was saved.

“That’s a savings of $1.7 million in our community,” Elam announced. “So we ask you to come by and see what we have to offer in our partnership with the Chamber. Together we can accomplish a lot in changing the lives in our service area.”