Carrie Johnson of Henderson, a Welding Technology student at Vance-Granville Community College, and Tiffani M. Polk, an Academic & Career Coach for the college’s TechHire program, recently spoke at a national conference focused on supporting college students.
Johnson and Polk participated in the Complete College America (CCA) organization’s annual convening, called “Access To Their American Dreams,” held in New Orleans. Established in 2009, CCA is a national nonprofit that seeks to implement strategies around the country to close achievement gaps, boost graduation rates, and ensure every student has the opportunity to achieve their dreams.
Along with their counterparts from other colleges and universities across the United States, the pair from VGCC were featured in a session at the conference called “Student Voices: Providing a Better Deal for Returning Adults.” They discussed how academic coaches become a trusted support system to help students navigate the institution’s processes and deal with external issues that arise, helping them ultimately to reach completion.
“My American dream is to become a welder and to open my own welding business,” Johnson told the conference attendees. “When I was about ten years old, my grandpa taught me all about welding, and ever since then, I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Johnson said that after she graduated from high school, she went at first to a four-year university, but found that it was not for her. She returned home and enrolled at VGCC. Eventually, her Welding instructor, Luke Gravel, introduced her to Tiffani Polk. “She helped me to get everything I needed, as far as classes and applying for scholarships,” Johnson said during the presentation. “She’s helped me a lot, and I just want to thank her.”
“When I met Carrie and talked with her about her plans and dreams, you could kind of see a weight lifted off her shoulders,” Polk recalled. “I wanted to support her and help her find her way. She talked to me about working and paying for school. Life happens, and, as a coach, I try to be there from beginning to end. I try help students navigate around, or sometimes through, whatever issues come up, and connect them with resources.”
Johnson made the President’s List this fall, in recognition of her 4.0 grade point average for the semester.
Students interested in enrolling in the VGCC Welding program can contact program head Rusty Pace at (252) 738-3375. For more information on TechHire, contact Tiffani Polk at email@example.com or (252) 738-3291.
Above: From left, VGCC student Carrie Johnson of Henderson and VGCC Academic & Career Coach Tiffani Polk speak at the “Complete College America” convening in New Orleans.