By Erin Smith
Bladen Community College has much to offer the county and its students. That was the message at the Elizabethtown-White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon meeting on Tuesday as BCC President Dr. Amanda Lee spoke to the members.
Dr. Lee began her talk by speaking about her own educational experiences and how they influenced her life. She spoke about the educators that she encountered on her educational journey that influenced her life and influenced her to eventually pursue a career in education. She noted how community colleges make a difference in their communities and their students’ lives with the quality of education they offer.
Dr. Lee recalled how she had a college president, Mr. Keith, whom she worked with who taught her how to “be professional.” She stated one day while she was making a presentation to a hospital, Mr. Keith began to cough violently. Dr. Lee said the reason was not that he was sick, but rather, he was creating a diversion to allow her to slow down her speech and take a breath and relax. She said she realized she was talking too quickly and had not taken a breath in several minutes, but thanks to Mr. Keith, she was able to collect her thoughts and slow down. Dr. Lee said lessons of this nature were very valuable to her and they are valuable to others, as well.
Dr. Lee also shared an experience where a student in one of her Communications courses gave a presentation about his car, which was an IROC Z Camaro.
“One lady spoke up and said, ‘Do you realize your car is worth more than my house?’” said Dr. Lee. “This initiated a conversation that it led us all to have about priorities and what is important.”
She pointed out the community college experience offers students life lessons as well as educational opportunities. Dr. Lee stated Bladen Community College offers that experience to their students. She stated that the college provides an economical way for students to earn an associates degree or to earn credits to transfer to the university of their choice.
Dr. Lee stated Bladen Community College has also experienced some challenges. She noted one challenge is attracting students. She explained that many community college students have needs that go beyond their education such as finding affordable child care, the costs to attend school and the need to work a full-time job while attending college. She said often these competing needs will lead to the student making a decision to drop off school.
“We will do whatever it takes to meet the needs of our students,” said Dr. Lee.
She said the staff will do what they can to help the students find the necessary resources they need so they can remain in the classroom and graduate.
Dr. Lee also announced that BCC is adding a new Mechatronics major which will be offered on the campus in the spring.
Dawn Maynard also announced she is leaving her role as Chamber Executive Director. She said Chamber is not yet accepting applications for the position; however, those who are interested can leave their contact information at the Chamber office and they will be mailed an application package.
Maynard also announced the annual Chamber banquet is planned for June 18. Those being honored with awards this year are Bruce Dickers will receive the Caring Person Award, Charles Ray Peterson will be honored with the Lifetime Chamber Member Award, Maurice Williams with Whimsical florist will receive the Outstanding Chamber Member Award and the Small Business Person of the Year is Dana McDuffie.
Maynard also announced sponsorships are available for the White Lake Water Festival, Sunset Jams concert series and Summer Sounds concert series. If you are interested in a sponsorship, contact the Chamber office at 910-862-4368.