Big Dreams = Big Rewards

Published 4:51 pm Tuesday, October 17, 2023

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AHOSKIE – When she first arrived on the Roanoke-Chowan Community College campus two years ago, president Dr. Murray J. Williams invited faculty members to share their dreams of how the college could grow and prosper.

Among those dreams was expanding Allied Health services, which includes the school’s nursing program along with public safety training (fire and EMT).

“I remember meeting with the nursing school staff,” Dr. Williams said here Monday morning upon formally accepting the first half of a $15 million appropriation from the North Carolina General Assembly to build an Allied Health facility on campus.

“What I asked them back then was to dream about what this nursing and EMT program can be…not what it looks like now, but what they believed in their hearts it needs to be. They did and they sent me a proposal, which became the basis of us asking for this $15 million,” Dr. Williams added as she stood alongside Annette Thompson, an RN who is a member of the school’s nursing faculty; Stacey Futrell, Director of RCCC’s Associate Degree Nursing Program; and Will Blanchard, Interim Director of RCCC’s Public Safety Training Programs.

Together, along with the school’s Board of Trustees, they accepted $7.5 million from Bill Ward, who represents the 5th District in the NC House. That money came from the recently approved state budget.

“This special appropriation means the world to this institution and to the communities we serve locally,” Dr. Williams stated. “It also means a lot to our workforce partners, such as Roanoke-Chowan Community Health Center. This is a win-win for everybody.

“We want to be the institution that serves as the talent pipeline for all allied health programs and this new building will allow us to do that,” Dr. Williams added. “Thank you Representative Ward. You’ve taken my calls, my texts, and my visits and worked with me in my role as president of Roanoke-Chowan Community College. I really appreciate that. State Senator Bobby Hanig has done the same thing. He is a strong supporter of this college.”

She also thanked the RCCC Board of Trustees for their work behind the scenes.

“This funding happened because of your leadership,” Dr. Williams noted.

Ward praised RCCC for educating the local workforce, saying they leave the college with the skills to fill available jobs.

“Your graduates are ready to go to work,” Ward said.

Due to a scheduling conflict, Senator Hanig was unable to attend the check presentation.

“Bobby and I worked hard in gaining appropriations such as this for the district,” Ward noted. “We feel that our district has gone unrecognized for the potential we have here and we worked together in the General Assembly to have our voices heard.”

“We are proud to support this college and all the good things you are doing here,” Ward continued.

He stressed that the $7.5 million check presented Monday morning represents one-half of the college’s total appropriation of $15 million. The other half is forthcoming in the second year (2024) of the state’s recently approved biennial budget.

“We appreciate the trust you put in us to be your representatives in Raleigh. Senator Hanig and I will continue fighting on behalf of our district,” Ward added.

Ronald Gatling, chair of the RCCC Board of Trustees, personally thanked Ward and Hanig for their work.

“This money will impact the whole region, not just now but in years to come,” Gatling remarked. “The benefits are the jobs awaiting the students who will experience a higher level of training within our new Allied Health services building. Today, we’re excited about this money, but I’m more excited about the impact this amount of funding will have on the future of Roanoke-Chowan Community College and our region.”

Andre Lassiter, a member of the college’s Board of Trustees who also serves as the chair of the RCCC Foundation, echoed Gatling’s remarks about exciting future of the local community college.

“This marks a turning point in the history of this college,” Lassiter said. “Those in this room realize the healthcare disparities that exist in northeastern North Carolina. For us to build a $15 million Allied Health Services building, it will impact this region in a way we can’t even imagine. It will train healthcare workers that will impact our community.”

Lassiter stressed that nothing happens without good leadership. He thanked Ward and Hanig for sharing RCCC’s story with the General Assembly.

“You made people in Raleigh aware of all the good things that go on here everyday at Roanoke-Chowan Community College,” he said.

Lassiter also thanked his fellow trustees and Dr. Williams for their collective leadership that continues to allow the college to grow. He stressed that Dr. Williams is a “game changer,” one who has “breathed new life into the college.”

“I also need to thank the faculty and staff here for teaching and training our students to become world class workers,” Lassiter stated.

According to Dr. Williams, the plan is to have an architectural design of the 16,000 square foot Allied Health building completed by the spring of next year with construction to hopefully begin by the summer or early fall.

The new facility will be located just to the right of the front of the Jernigan Building, facing Union Road.

Within its Allied Health department, RCCC offers nursing (Associate’s degree), nurse aide, phlebotomy, healthcare billing and coding, EKG technician, medication aide, dietary management, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), firefighter training, in-service law enforcement programs, motorcycle safety programs, and CPR programs.


About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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