The following is a monthly column from Dr. Darrin Hartness that ran in the Lexington Dispatch and the Davie Enterprise in the month of May 2020.
Every day, we build the roadmap for our future. This is true under usual circumstances, yet we find ourselves in a time of new and changing norms. Activities and aspects of daily life easily done three months ago now require careful thought, consideration, and often modification. Even in the midst of all this change, I have consistently seen the brightness of the future ahead. This thread can be seen throughout the campuses of Davidson County Community College.
This May, DCCC conferred degrees upon 1,591 students during our virtual 2020 Commencement ceremony. These graduates earned a total 2,115 credentials. It is with great joy, determination, and confidence they now enter a changing workforce eager for their skill. Though different from our original plan for Commencement, the excitement of our graduates’ accomplishments remained in full force. It is with this excitement and hope that we at DCCC also move forward into the future, prepared to meet the changes of our new normal with constant dedication to the success of our students. Despite the uncharted territory we find ourselves in, DCCC continues to provide a safe and highly dynamic learning environment for all students.
Colleges and universities across the country continue to fortify this new environment to meet the times. In the era of a new normal, higher education leaders are asking, “How do we best provide students the lessons and experiences for their professional success, while equally ensuring their safety and good health?” It is a question not easily answered, and shifts with new released guidance from health officials.. Students and their families may decide it is not in their best interest to travel to or live on campus this fall. Some four-year colleges and universities may decide to continue virtual learning into the fall. At this point, we are all processing uncertainty together. If you find yourself in this position, unsure of where to begin your unique path, Davidson County Community College stands ready to support you regardless of what comes next.
The rising enrollment in the 2019-2020 academic year is a testament to our readiness. Members of our community discover DCCC because of the wealth of opportunity. These include pathways designed to equip students with competitive, transferable skills for their career, as well as the high value of advancing their skill set and credentials at a community college. Those 1,591 students faced unprecedented obstacles and changes. They turned their proverbial graduation tassels with their perseverance and hard work, as well as the support of our dedicated instructors.
Our mission, however, does not end at graduation. It encompasses proactively ensuring students successfully use those new, transferable skills effectively in the evolving workforce. Many businesses have had to transition and change to remain operational and productive away from physical workspaces. Even before the widespread reality of remote work, Forbes reports industries saw a 44 percent increase in teleworking over the past five years. This shift and reliance on new and emerging technology requires extensive technical support, engineering, information technology, and finance to ensure businesses are sustainable and thrive. Our School of Business, Engineering, and Technical Studies has the programs to meet those needs. Then there are the needs of our healthcare industry. Already a rapidly growing field, the pandemic has shown us the deep need for more skilled healthcare workers. Our nurses come immediately to mind, but also central sterile processors, health information and human service technologists, healthcare interpreters, medical assistants, and pharmacy technicians. The list goes on. The demand remains high, and this is only a sample of the careers and industries available.
History indicates to us that this time too shall pass. While we may never return to what we considered “normal,” there will be a time when we can gather and hold each other a little tighter. The future remains and continues to be bright, as I have seen firsthand. More and more of the neighbors in our community are ready to face that future alongside DCCC. Our students are excited and eager to enter the workforce, use the new skills they learned at DCCC, and make our workplaces and community even better than before. They have confidence that the new skills learned here will serve them well. I look forward to walking together into that future with our students and alumni, faculty and staff, and community.