Southwest Now - Spring 2020

Page 1

SPRING 2020 | VOL. 9 | NO. 2








Culinary Arts EMT/Paramedic

Medical Device Finishing

Blue Path/ Criminal Justice





20 Years of

Educating the Mid-South



The Secret is Out Southwest Now, the official magazine of Southwest Tennessee Community College, is back after a 4-year hiatus with a new look, feel and purpose—to ensure Southwest is no longer one of the best kept secrets in town! With more than 13,000 credit and non-credit students, 100-plus programs of study, at least 20 technical certificates, and seven locations, we are too big to be invisible. Every day at Southwest, we strive to fulfill our mission to provide the citizens of Shelby and Fayette counties and the surrounding Mid-South region with a high quality and affordable post-secondary education. In each issue of Southwest Now, you will meet the people that bring that mission to life, our faculty and staff; and we will tell the stories of our “why,” our students, alumni and community partners. In this issue, for example, you will meet Bill Weppner, a faculty member who was on the team that put the first man on the moon, and Alfred Jones, an alumnus who returned to Southwest after 15 years to complete his degree and is now ready to take flight. You will learn about our Workforce Development and Continuing Education Division and how it has been revamped and rebranded, and about Simone Malone, who triumphed over incredible odds and is now soaring to new heights. You will also meet atpromise teens who received what may be a life-changing introduction to an unimaginable career path, thanks to our partnership with Shelby County Schools and Project STAND. You will learn about our new Funeral Service Education program at the Whitehaven Center and the logistics program that is growing there. And you will see how pots, pans and passion light a fire in one of our talented culinary students and how world travel opens the eyes, hearts and minds of Southwest students studying abroad.

Dr. Tracy D. Hall President

A lot has happened since the last issue in 2015 and we are ready, willing and able to tell our story now—Southwest Now. So, please spread the word and share the secret that Southwest is on a mission to partner with the community to train, develop, upskill and educate as many people as possible at a location near you. Enjoy!

Dr. Tracy D. Hall




Feature 15 | Empowering for Solutions

Southwest Workforce & Community Solutions delivers training that transforms organizations, individuals and communities FEATURE ON the COVER 18 Alumnus Alfred Jones

SPRING 2020 | VOL. 9 | NO. 2

Enjoys New Career



Photo credit: Detric Stanciel







27 GRADUATE OVERCOMES two strokes to earn social work degree




PRESIDENT Dr. Tracy D. Hall

major leads to out-of-this world career at NASA


EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Daphne J. Thomas

helps students prepare for strong job market


light a fire in culinary arts student


Executive Director of Communications, Marketing and Community Relations


Southern cooking inspires Northerner to pursue culinary career


experience sights, sounds and tastes abroad


CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Diana Fedinec Suzanne Gibson Mark Randall

Alumnus Alfred Jones is ready to take flight

Honors son with book scholarship fund

Director of Public Relations and Media

ART DIRECTOR Detric Stanciel






Southwest Tennessee Community College is a comprehensive, multicultural, public, open-access college committed to meeting the educational needs of individual students, communities, and employers in Shelby and Fayette Counties and the surrounding Mid-South region through a high quality and affordable post-secondary education that prepares citizens for associate degrees, future educational opportunities, and successful employment. Southwest Now is published bi-annually by the Department of Communications, Marketing and Community Relations as a service to alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends of the college.

up to tackle recidivism among local youth


Southwest welcomes first class of MTSU Promise students

Please email address changes to the: Southwest Tennessee Community College Department of Communications, Marketing and Community Relations at

CAMPUS NEWS 28 WHITEHAVEN CENTER takes student-centered approach to course offerings with Funeral Service Education and Logistics

Do you have a story idea for Southwest Now? Email Daphne Thomas at Southwest. Your Best Choice.


Southwest TN Community College 5983 Macon Cove | Memphis, TN 38134 Phone: 901.333.5000

Follow us at @SouthwestTN



STEM major leads to out-ofSouthwest professor celebrates 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing


hen Southwest Associate Professor of Mathematics Bill Weppner graduated from college as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force, little did he know that his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering would propel his career to astronomical heights as a flight controller at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The job landed him in Houston, Texas, where he began the journey of a lifetime as a member of the Apollo spaceflight program, Missions 7 through 13. The year was 1968 when military personnel approached Weppner and asked him if he would like to be assigned to NASA in Houston. At the time, Weppner was completing a four-year tour at one of the Air Force labs in Massachusetts. “I jumped at the chance,” he said. “I had been following the Gemini program all along and was excited by the opportunity.” Project Gemini was an early NASA human spaceflight program that preceded the Apollo program. It also was a time when the United States was in a Cold War with then-Soviet Union and in stiff competition to build launch vehicles with the possibility of lobbing nuclear weapons at each other. “The Soviets beat us to the first human to orbit (the earth) when Yuri Gagarin completed his mission in April of 1961,” Weppner said. NASA’s human exploration into space came in 1962, when astronaut John Glenn completed his Mercury mission becoming the first American to orbit the earth. Seven years later, on July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 program landed the first humans on the surface of the moon—astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins. Weppner was 32 years old when he arrived at NASA and one of about 200 Air Force officers assigned to all facets of human space flight, from mission planning and analysis, to landing and recovery. He had graduated from the University of Buffalo in 1959 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and three years later accepted an Air Force assignment through the University of Oklahoma where he earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology. “You’d be surprised to know that most of the mission employees were just young kids straight out of college who only had a bachelor’s degree,” he said. 6 | SOUTHWEST NOW | SPRING 2020

“There were just a few, maybe three or four, who had a master’s degree, including myself. The one thing we all had in common: we were STEM majors.” Weppner knew his education and training in the Air Force would equip him with the fortitude to carry through on any project. Within a week and a half of being assigned at NASA, he was learning about the Apollo systems. “I had directed some small scale rocket sounding projects, so I was familiar with rocket countdowns and launch systems, but I had never worked as a controller on a console,” he said. “We weren’t conscious of the fact we were making history, but we sure were!” More than 400,000 people worked on the historic Apollo 11 program—from contractors and subcontractors to drafts people to machinists. Flight controllers like Weppner were the finishing touch. On the day of the moon landing, Weppner was on Shift Four of the Maroon Team (the re-entry phase). “I was in the control center in the support room near my desk so I could plug in and listen to the landing,” he said. Weppner described the moment when the Eagle module landed as euphoric and that it was exciting to hear Neil Armstrong take the first step on the moon. “I was proud to be an observer and proud of what our country had achieved in just a few years.” Weppner stayed with the Apollo program for two more missions. In 1970, the Air Force reassigned him to the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for two years. From there, Weppner took on other assignments and eventually landed himself in Memphis in 1988, joining Southwest as a part-time mathematics instructor. He was promoted to fulltime instructor in 1993. Reflecting back on his education and Air Force career, Weppner says the greatest lesson he teaches his students is to ‘aim high’ in all their work. “Regardless of what your background is, or your degree, your supervisor and the organization you work for are going to put you on a project where you are needed,” he said. “Your responsibility is to accept it and learn what it takes to do the job—always aim high, be flexible, and do a good job.” SN

-this world career at NASA

Bill weppner

Professor Bill Weppner stands beside a NASA photo of Apollo 11’s historic moon landing of the Eagle in 1969.



Instructor George “Buddy” Bonner shows students in the Automotive Engines 1 Lab how to disassemble a harmonic balancer to get to the timing chain and oil pan.

Automotive instructor helps students prepare for strong job market


eorge Bonner’s father really wanted him to go to college after he graduated high school. But a four-year traditional college just wasn’t for him. Instead, he enrolled at a two-year technical college and earned a degree in automotive service technology that qualified him for high-paying jobs in Memphis as a mechanic at Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, FedEx, and the City of Memphis. “That degree prepared me for every good job I ever wanted,” Bonner said. Now an instructor and Automotive Services Technology program coordinator at Southwest, he says good paying automotive jobs abound, especially in Memphis. “Everywhere I go, they are begging me for mechanics,” Bonner said. “I’d say 99 percent of our students already have jobs when they leave. I got a student a job at the Sheriff ’s Department in fleet 8 | SOUTHWEST NOW | SPRING 2020

maintenance starting at $25 an hour. When he tops out he will be making about $35 an hour.” Once Southwest students earn their Associate in Applied Science degree in automotive technology, they emerge prepared to compete for and excel in entry-level technician jobs in the automotive service industry. Graduates work as technicians at new car dealerships, independent repair shops, and companies with vehicle fleets like FedEx and the Shelby County Sheriff ’s Department. A growing program The Southwest automotive program is on the move. The number of graduates nearly tripled between 2016 and 2017 and there were about 50 students enrolled for the fall 2019

Roland Rayner, President of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Memphis, and Dr. Tracy D. Hall, President of Southwest Tennessee Community College, sign an articulation agreement that enables TCAT-Memphis students to matriculate to Southwest where they can earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in automotive technology.

classwork and labs on engines and electronics systems where students learn how an engine runs and how all of the components work. “We start with the basics,” Bonner said. “We teach them the nuts and bolts and where the general parts are that make an engine work. They learn about automatic transmission, manual transmission, differentials, transfer case, and along the way, electronics systems and how to fix something that is electrical.” The shop also trains students on heating and air conditioning and has two lift bays where they learn how to repair and replace parts, align wheels and perform such basic maintenance as changing oil, checking fluid levels, rotating tires, and tune ups. “Any facet of a car that is mechanical — they can do it,” Bonner said. “We teach all that.” The gold standard Doug Partington is a second-year student already working as a lab technician for Southwest. He says the program prepares students like him to pass all of the Automotive Service Excellence tests, which is the industry gold standard to qualify for a job. “It’s a great program for me,” Partington said. “If you pass those courses, you can work in any automotive service job. And if you apply yourself in the program, you’re going to be a good tech.” Partington said he would love to stay on with Southwest in the lab after he graduates, but may do some repair on the side. “Whether that is having my own repair business or maybe doing something specialty-wise like helping someone build a street car, this is preparing me to get to that point.” Growing demand for Southwest graduates Jobs in automotive service technology are expected to grow over the next decade. The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics forecasts that the US economy will create an additional 45,900 automotive repair and maintenance jobs—a six percent increase from 2016 to 2026—making automotive technicians one of the top 20 jobs with a high median earnings potential for significant job openings in the next decade.

Bonner (left) and second-year automotive service technology student Doug Partington diagnose a problem in the air conditioning system using a state-of-the-art trainer.

semester. These students are enjoying new, state-of-the-art equipment. In 2018, Southwest invested $175,000 to outfit the Macon Cove Campus lab with equipment that rivals any found in Memphis’ high-volume shops. The College purchased seven new cars and an industry-standard alignment machine. The new model cars include a hybrid, one flex fuel car, one hybrid pick-up truck and a Camaro with a turbo charge system to train students on high performance fuel injection. “This is a top of the line shop,” Bonner said. The program is designed to train everyone—from the mechanical novice to the experienced tinkerer who has a knack for repair. The building blocks of the program include

The jobs run the gamut—from technicians to parts distribution and wholesaling, to collision repair and vehicle maintenance. According to, automotive mechanics in Memphis earn an average of $36,938 annually. Bonner says with more and more drivers on the road and with many of them keeping their vehicles longer than ever, graduates from the program will find no shortage of job opportunities. Tim Albin, fleet manager for the Shelby County Sheriff ’s Department, says a master automotive technician earns about $60,000 there. He says he has had good luck hiring Southwest students. “It’s a good program. I just hired one of Buddy’s students within the last seven months,” he said. “Sometimes I work them into the workforce as trainees and bring them in as a full tech later.” SN



Pots, pans and

Chef Leake receives national honor

Steven Leake

Chef Leake instructs student Amber Presley at St. Vincent DePaul’s Food Mission.

and career success of his students. Leake says although he is honored to be among the 58 distinguished faculty representing various disciplines and colleges nationwide this year, he feels rewarded each day. “My students, many of whom face insurmountable challenges, are the driving force that guides my path to improve their lives and equip them with stellar skills to enter the workforce. Their success is my reward.”


outhwest Culinary Institute Program Coordinator Steven Leake was named a Dale P. Parnell Distinguished Faculty award recipient this past January by the American Association of Community Colleges. AACC, an advocacy organization that represents 1,200 two-year, associate degree granting institutions nationwide, annually recognizes community college faculty who exemplify teaching excellence and leadership. When Leake joined Southwest in 2003, the culinary program was on probation due to low performance outcomes, graduation rates and enrollment. Since then, he has transformed the program into one of the most highly regarded culinary institutes in the region through his talent, leadership and dedication to ensuring the educational


Southwest President Dr. Tracy D. Hall says the recognition comes as no surprise to her. “He never fails to raise the bar in the classroom and to broaden his students’ outlook on their futures,” Hall says. “His commitment to his craft and our students is undeniable and the college is truly proud to count him among our faculty.” Leake is a graduate of State Technical Institute at Memphis (now Southwest) where he earned an Associate of Arts and Sciences degree in hotel and restaurant management in 1988. Ever raising the bar, he is pursuing American Culinary Federation certification, a premier distinction among chefs and cooks nationwide. SN



Southern cooking inspires Northerner to pursue culinary career says. “The professors here really push us. It’s a rigorous program, so we won’t be surprised when we step into the field.” Amber Presley

Presley says community service projects like the feed the homeless event she and her classmates participated in this past fall have been invaluable. “It was nice to give back to the community, but I also learned the importance of what it takes to provide an extraordinary experience for the customer.” Culinary Arts Program Coordinator Chef Steven Leake selected Presley as the 2019 Culinary Student of the Year and says she has a bright future. “She is one the most dedicated students I’ve had—always present, always completing assignments and always volunteering for community service projects.” “She’s one of the few students who keeps a portfolio of the recipes she cooks in class and from her culinary jobs, like I used to do,” Leake says.


Wisconsin native, Amber Presley’s first “taste” for cooking began when her grandmother from Mississippi began teaching her how to cook Southern dishes. “I’m originally from Milwaukee, where you don’t find much soul food, at least when I was growing up,” Presley says. “Living in a multi-ethnic city, I had the privilege of trying different cuisines from all over the world—Ireland, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Spain, Germany and Italy. All these different types of food sparked my interest in wanting to become a chef.”

Amber works at the Hilton East Memphis as a line chef and with Donelson’s Catering, a job Leake helped her obtain in November 2019. Her ultimate dream is to own her own catering business. “It’s a tough business, but I feel prepared and confident to meet that challenge with the training I have received at Southwest.” SN

Presley is a first-generation college student who chose Southwest in 2017 based on recommendations from local chefs and co-workers. “They all had good things to say about the culinary program and I saw how organized the program is in graduating professionals who are serious about culinary careers,” Presley says. She completes her associate degree in culinary arts this May and says she is ready to succeed as a professional chef. “Southwest has prepared me for a culinary career in every aspect—from knowing culinary terminology to management and sanitation training to the proper use of knives,” Presley

Presley butters biscuits to serve to the homeless.



International Studies students experience sights, sounds and tastes abroad

prayed and did yoga, inspired by the breath-taking view of Cape Town from the top of Table Mountain, which helped take some of the loneliness of being away from family on Mother’s Day. “This is one journey that I will never forget,” Chambers said. “I was enlightened to say the least. I learned about South Africa’s food, political parties, their 12 languages, resources and economic standpoint, diverse cultures and ethnicities, and so much more.” Students also recently returned from study abroad trips to Denmark, Greece, Italy and Peru. International Studies Program Coordinator Jessica Miller said she has never seen a student come back from one of the IS trips abroad who didn’t have an eye-opening experience. One student cried at the sight of the Sistine Chapel. Nursing students who went to Denmark were skeptical that free universal health care could work —until they experienced it firsthand. “Different trips have different eyeopening experiences,” Miller said. “But they always have a lot to take away.”

turned out to be a very emotional and humbling one.

Miller said students in the IS program enroll in specific courses and study as a cohort during the semester, learning about the history and culture of their destination. Once abroad, students visit various cultural sites, tour historic cities, meet with locals, and experience different food. “They get really immersed in it,” she said. “They learn everything about it on the front end at home before they venture to their chosen county. Then they get to spend about a week to 10 days there where they get to experience the culture and what it is like to live there.”

Chambers was literally brought to tears when she saw the jail cell at Robben Island where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years there in prison. She also

Dr. Sharon Hightower, assistant professor of nursing who went to Demark with a group of ten students, says she was extremely grateful for the

Sheena Chambers prayed while she took in the inspiring view from the top of Table Mountain during a recent International Studies trip to South Africa.


heena Chambers was hesitant when she got the e-mail to apply to the International Studies trip to South Africa because of her age, and the fact that she was new to Southwest. But her heart told her to apply, so she followed her intuition. And it paid off. The trip to Cape Town



Dr. Sharon Hightower (far left) and nursing students learned about the healthcare system in Odense, Denmark, and spent a weekend in Copenhagen.

opportunity to go, and that it was a great learning experience for the students. “It was an absolutely wonderful trip and experience,” Hightower said. “The students benefitted from the trip because they had the opportunity to broaden their cultural experience and gain greater insight into their own country, as well as another country. They also studied another country’s healthcare system by participating in the program through immersion.”

a projected screen,” Adams said. “They must go out and experience art. The students are able to hear, see, and feel our teachings, which I find to be the most intensive form of learning. They remember these lessons forever.” Student Joshua Rosario agreed. “Since we were familiar with the artworks, we were able to appreciate them much more once we actually

The students stayed at University of Southern Denmark in Odense, where they toured the hospital and learned about the healthcare system, which is free in Denmark. They also spent a weekend in Copenhagen where they walked around the city, went on a bus and boat tour, and saw the inside of a castle. Hightower said they took the train and taxis everywhere and saw lots of bikes. “Bikes, bikes, bikes everywhere,” Hightower said. “It’s a biking culture.” If she could describe a day in the life of the Danes in one word it would be “wonderful.” Raquel Adams, who teaches Intro to Art and went on the trip to Italy, said the IS program is a great “lab” where students get hands-on instruction and lectures. The group went to the Colosseum, Sistine Chapel, saw the president of Italy, visited the American University in Rome, Trevi Fountain, the MAXXI National Museum of 21st Century Art and Vatican City, where they walked to the top of the dome at St. Peter’s Basilica. “I often tell my students that you can’t do justice to works of art on

Students visited the Colosseum in Rome and heard a Papal address inside the Vatican during their trip to Italy.


STUDENTS got to be right next to them,” he said. Assistant Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences Matthew Lexow, whose Intro to Ethics class traveled to South Africa, said this was the first time that Southwest had sent a course there in years. Lexow said students were particularly struck by their tour of the Robben Island prison and the District Six region of Cape Town, which was once a vibrant and diverse neighborhood that was demolished by the apartheid government. “Our tour guide for the maximum security section of Robben Island was imprisoned there from 1977 to 1982,” Lexow said. “The students and faculty were clearly moved by the tour.” Chambers added that she was brought to tears when she saw Mandela’s cell. “I allowed my mind to wander back in time to picture the images that were created by all of the background information that I had researched and received from the tour guides.” Instructor Dustin Williams made the trip to Peru with students in his Spanish II class and proclaimed the trip a resounding success. They climbed the peaks of Machu Picchu, visited the U.S. embassy in Lima where they learned about the daily lives of diplomats, haggled for goods at local Peruvian markets, and took selfies with llamas at an animal rescue sanctuary. “It is a lifechanging experience for many of our students,” Williams said. “The students were so grateful for the opportunity to get to know the Peruvian people.”

The students who traveled to South Africa were impressed by its beauty and visibly moved by the experience of seeing where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.

Student Margaret Moore said it was the best trip of her life and that the faculty and tour guides were very informative. “The incredible views, delicious foods, and the culture of the Peruvians were all over the top,” Moore said. “I enjoyed every day I was there with my Spanish class.” She says Machu Picchu was a miracle to see in person. “It is hard to comprehend how the Incas built it without any tools,” Moore said. “All the stones are placed so tightly and they have lasted for hundreds of years.” SN

The atmosphere was thin, but the view was awe-inspiring at Machu Picchu.


Empowering for

Solutions Southwest Workforce & Community Solutions delivers training that transforms organizations, individuals and communities

Student Mason Cobb practices stick welding to build structural reinforcement skills that can be used in manufacturing and at construction sites.




very day of the week, the Southwest Workforce & Community Solutions department maintains a busy schedule as the dedicated team actively works with area businesses and agencies to help build one of Memphis’ most important assets—a skilled, educated, committed and productive workforce. According to Anita Brackin, associate vice president, SWCS, “Dr. Tracy D. Hall, our president, often opens her talks touting Southwest as the community’s college, and I couldn’t agree with her more. All of our departments work together to prepare graduates with marketable skills, certificates, certifications and diplomas so they can gain better jobs and wages, which makes for a more satisfying and productive life. I am honored to be working on such an important mission that changes the course of generations and the course of our community.” Designated as an Achieving the Dream school since 2016, Southwest works with a network of more than 220 community colleges to identify and share best practice models with a focus on developing strong pathways from non-credit offerings to credit programs.

Two grant funded programs awarded to SWCS for three consecutive years, including one by the Women’s Foundation of Greater Memphis and the other, ReadyWhitehaven, sponsored by EDGE, educate the under or unemployed from economically challenged communities. Both programs offer training that leads to such careers in the medical field as dialysis technician and medical administrative assistant and have the goal of preparing individuals to go to work in around 12 weeks. Another partnership, this time with the State of Tennessee, allowed SWCS to offer digital court reporting in the spring of 2019 to address the growing need for digital court reporters. The courts’ workforce had been strained due to numerous retirements. The 10 graduates of the class gained valuable work experience through internships to qualify them to work in the court system.

By focusing on career and technical education, we help prepare students with the knowledge and skills required for existing and future jobs.

SWCS teamed up at the state level once again with Tennessee Board of Regents and LaunchTN this past summer to offer LaunchCode LC101, a free, 20week class, that was open to residents of all ages interested in learning technology skills that included coding and web development. More than 800 area residents applied to the class, a LaunchCode record, a little more than 200 were accepted and about 50 eventually graduated with a certificate and 12 hours of course credit at Southwest.

“I am a huge proponent of delivering programs that mirror not only college credit, but also the college experience so that students see themselves as Southwest — Anita Brackin “Careers in technology normally require students, regardless of which side of the a four-year degree in computer science college they are enrolled,” Brackin said. or a related field,” Brackin said. “We “We provide students with a seamless educational journey as they train for in-demand careers. were excited to offer this unique course that opened doors to When a student begins on the non-credit side with SWCS, lucrative careers for those who didn’t have the time or resources they can often transfer that training or certification into to obtain an actual degree. Many of the graduates have already the credit side, which can lead to a degree,” Brackin said. By gone from minimum wage jobs to lucrative careers as computer offering customized training for state and federal workforce programmers at some of the most successful companies in and economic development organizations, private sector Memphis.” companies, community agencies, secondary schools and other groups, SWCS supports workforce and economic development Often called a “problem solver” by those throughout the college, Brackin, who has more than 20 years of higher throughout the area. education experience in the area of workforce, took the reins “We actively seek ways to forge relationships with a lot of of SWCS in February 2018. “I knew that first-off we needed different entities so that we can learn more of what is needed a dedicated, experienced group ready to manage and deliver for organizations to remain viable and become more successful,” workforce education and training. Putting those individuals Brackin said. “Our team’s mission is to create and implement in place has been a primary focus over the past year and a workforce development, continuing education and personal half. Our team has grown and continues to grow as we bring and professional development programs to drive the College’s on more subject-matter expert facilitators to develop our workforce alignment and economic development initiatives. programs. It’s appropriate that we recently rebranded the name By focusing on career and technical education, we help prepare of our department to Southwest Workforce & Community students with the knowledge and skills required for existing and Solutions, with the key word being solutions,” Brackin said. future jobs.”


Facilitator Kevin Christie provides hands-on PLC skills instruction to Taylor Meador, a student majoring in AIIT.

Brackin, who has found it advantageous to think outside the box when recruiting, brought on board two new directors to focus on workforce development and community engagement and hired five part-time technical program facilitators who run Electrical and Instrumentation, Process Control Technology, Welding, Mechatronics and the SouthwestWORKS program. “I look for facilitators who are experienced in their field and have a passion for teaching,” Brackin said. “By being flexible, I’ve been able to enlist quality individuals who are retired military or retired from their trade and looking for a part-time schedule. I also have some instructors who still work full time in manufacturing and logistics, but enjoy teaching around their schedules. Many of them have built strong relationships through their industry contacts, and this is a great way for our department to more fully engage in understanding training needs throughout the community.” In a world of custom program and delivery, SWCS is poised to not only develop and deliver unique programs and services, but remains vigilant about updating training materials and technical equipment systems to deliver world-class training. “Since 2014, Southwest has been the recipient of five Department of Labor grants, which has allowed the school to purchase state-of-the art training systems,” Brackin said. “We continuously review these systems and fill in the gaps with

additional equipment so that we can deliver more and better technical programs across multiple sectors. One example is the portable Amatrol trainers Southwest acquired, which allow manufacturing plants and their employees to take electrical, mechanical and other technical skill training onsite. Having a strong Memphis economy and historically low unemployment is good news, yet, according to Brackin, it also brings new challenges of convincing students, who would greatly benefit from a workforce skills program, to enroll. “Many individuals who would profit from workforce training are already working and may not understand or be aware of the value of a training program,” Brackin said. “Our programs and certifications can help individuals move up in their organizations, which means greater earning potential. When individuals take the initiative to skill up, companies are able to function more successfully and have more qualified workers to fill open jobs. All around, having a strong workforce is crucial to area businesses and for those considering relocating to Memphis,” Brackin said. For more information about Southwest Workforce & Community Solutions training courses and other opportunities, visit and click on “Workforce/Ce” or call 901-333-4207. SN



Accomplishing the

dream Alumnus Alfred Jones is ready to take flight


ith a ready smile and incessant confidence exuding from eyes stamped with years of wisdom and experience, Alfred Jones is the epitome of a “just do it” philosophy. At age 47, Jones’ go-getter attitude and acquired laser focus has resulted in his returning to Southwest to finish an associate degree (after a 19-year hiatus). His optimistic outlook also has allowed him to move up the ranks in various manufacturing roles while working at Hershey and has helped him secure his current position of maintenance planner for Mitsubishi. But that’s not all. Most recently, Jones obtained his pilot’s license and is on the road to becoming a commercial pilot, a lifelong dream he thought could never happen. Yet, having confidence and achieving success wasn’t always the case for Jones who was introverted and stuttered “a lot” early in his life. “Because of the stuttering, I mostly stuck to myself and always enjoyed tearing things apart and putting them back together. It was fun to figure out how things worked, but the process kind of drove my mother crazy,” Jones said. As a 1990 graduate of Sheffield High School, Jones studied to be an airplane mechanic through a vocational program that was provided by Tennessee Technology Center. After graduation, he continued on with the program, but eventually dropped out due to transportation issues. Needing a job, Jones found employment with Chuck Hutton Chevrolet where he began as an order puller/shipping clerk and quickly moved up the ranks to become a shipping supervisor. This job was a turning point. “I was good at figuring things out and was able to advance into a supervisory role at age 21. “As a supervisor, I got to know them by asking questions and listening,” Jones said. “Learned about their likes and dislikes so I could utilize their strengths. Seeing their success encouraged me, and I realized that I could do better and was going to stop accepting roadblocks,” he added. “Amazingly, this is the time


when my stuttering just stopped. It was immediate and truly a miracle. I just kind of made up my mind that I was tired of the same ole, same ole.” Balancing time at the shop with a desire to better his life, Jones enrolled at Southwest in 1993, where he studied industrial engineering for one year. “I did really good until I got to calculus,” Jones said. “After the second semester with the same instructor, I was done with this and just quit going.” When college didn’t work out, Jones poured himself back into full-time work at Chuck Hutton where he received raises and promotions. “At the time, I thought making more money was great,” Jones said. “Looking back, I see I had an ‘I quit’ attitude and should have stuck with it.” Eleven years out from high school and after an initial stab at studying aeronautics, Jones never lost the itch to work with airplanes. In 2001, he went back to Tennessee Tech and this time, successfully obtained an Airframe and Powerplant license. After three years of repairing and doing maintenance on airplanes, Jones realized the money wasn’t what he was hoping. “I didn’t want to travel the world chasing low paying airplane jobs, so I took the advice of a friend who suggested I test for a manufacturing job at Hershey. I got the job.” Shortly after joining Hershey, Jones realized there wasn’t anything he didn’t like about manufacturing. “My job was especially challenging at first because most of the equipment didn’t have manuals, so we had to figure out what was wrong and fix it. I got really good at it,” he said. Seven years of promotions and pay increases put Jones at a crossroads, and as fate would have it, his only chance of advancement was to go back to Southwest for a certification or an associate degree. “When I finally came back on the Macon campus in 2016, one of the first people I saw was a former

instructor and was amazed he remembered me,” said Jones, who admits he was only attending to get a raise. “Because I already had the basics out of the way, I figured I might as well get my associate degree in mechatronics instead of going for a certification.” In the beginning, Jones took a class a semester, but as graduation became a closer reality, he wound up taking as many as five courses at once. Three years of consistent work later, he realized, “Wow, I have a degree. It’s something that should have been primary from the beginning, but it took me awhile to see it.” Through hands-on classes and instruction received at Southwest, Jones found new ways of approaching old problems. “I thought I knew everything about the equipment because I repeated the way things had always been done,” Jones said. “My instructors taught me the correct way, and it truly benefitted my career and the company in many different aspects.” After working at Hershey for 12 years, Jones accepted a job as maintenance planner for Mitsubishi where he has worked since 2018, ensuring that equipment making fluids for electrical cars like Teslas is reliable. “It’s a new kind of adventure for me,” Jones says. “Our company didn’t have a maintenance crew until two years ago, so I run modified lifecycle tests to see how long each piece of equipment can and should last. It’s all based on experience and spreadsheet documentation. My job is to make sure the equipment stays reliable and up and running.” As far as recommending a career in maintenance, Jones says without hesitation, “There are lots of job openings for maintenance, and it’s a great field that can help you anywhere. If something breaks at home, you can fix it yourself without having to pay someone else $100 per hour.” Longevity and earning respect in the field has brought Jones other benefits like several six-figure job offers over the past eight months, which he has turned down. It is no longer about the money, but rather about fulfilling his dream of becoming a commercial pilot. “I will be 50 years old by the time I complete my commercial flight requirements, but this still leaves me fifteen years to fly. Since pilots have a mandatory retirement age of 65, I kept asking if I was too old, and all I heard was ‘go for it,’ and I am.” Words of advice? Jones believes in never giving up on a dream. “It’s never too late to try something new. If you want to do something, do it. You are the only one who can talk you out of it. If somebody says you can’t, don’t listen to them. The main thing is to try and believe you can achieve it.” SN

Alumnus Alfred Jones enjoys his new-found career as a maintenance planner for Mitsubishi. SOUTHWEST NOW | SPRING 2020 | 19


Nursing alum heals by helping others

Honors son with book scholarship fund


amela Finnie received a fateful phone call early one morning from her son serving in Afghanistan. Staff Sergeant Daniel D. Merriweather had a premonition and wanted to speak to his mother. “He said he did not think he was ever going to make it back home,” Finnie recalled of the son she tried to comfort that morning in 2010. “I encouraged him and we prayed, but I never expected to see a chaplain and military officer at my door that night.” Merriweather had joined the United States Army in 2002, right out of high school, and served three tours overseas honorably. The chaplain informed Finnie that a roadside bomb near Kandahar had killed her son. Daniel was 25 years old. Finnie channeled her ensuing grief the best way she knew how: honor Daniel by helping others.

Pamela Finnie


Success against the odds When Finnie graduated from Southwest in 1995 with an associate degree in nursing, it was after a hard fought battle to overcome financial challenges. “Even though I worked fulltime and used a credit card, it still was not enough to cover my expenses,” she said. Finnie says scholarships from the Southwest Foundation helped her make it across the finish line. “I am thankful to Southwest for giving me the opportunity to become a nurse,” she said.

Daniel’s love for physical fitness and life. The event caught the attention of the Dog Tag Foundation, a national organization that supports the legacy projects of Gold Star families, which awarded the project $5,000. Today, the SSG Daniel D. Merriweather Scholarship is awarded to full and part-time nursing students who maintain a 2.5 GPA or better. Since fall 2012, when the first Merriweather scholarship was awarded, the Finnies have supported 18 scholarship students and raised more than $21,400. All but one of the students have gone on to become full-time nurses.

Finnie would go on to complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing at Union University and a master’s in nursing education at the University of Memphis. She Monica Russom is a registered has enjoyed a rewarding nurse in the emergency room career with stints as a clinical at Methodist University researcher and registered Hospital. She graduated nurse for St. Jude Children’s from the nursing program Research Hospital and a in 2017. “The Merriweather nurse in Regional One scholarship was an immense Health’s high risk labor help to me and my family. I and delivery unit. Today, now contribute annually to the she is the Trauma Program Finnie enjoys a successful nursing career as the trauma program scholarship as a way to give Manager for Regional One’s manager for Regional One’s Elvis Presley Trauma Center. back to help other nursing Elvis Presley Trauma Center. students.” “My instructors made sure I learned how to take optimum care of Travis Turner, a 2018 graduate, works as a patients,” Finnie said of her Southwest home health nurse. “My wife was pregnant education. “The quality of training and and I could not work,” he said. “The Finnie’s financial assistance I received enabled me selfless generosity has inspired me to pay it to climb my career ladder.” forward to help other students when I can.” Paying it forward A firm believer in Southwest’s strength as When Finnie attended Southwest in 1995, an institution that cares for students, Finnie the cost per credit hour was $42. Today, is deeply committed to supporting students it’s $233. Although many students benefit along their academic journey. “Every time from Tennessee Promise and Tennessee I am able to help a student, it is pure joy and Reconnect scholarships, many of them satisfaction. I don’t expect a thank you, but and many others need help to buy books. when I do hear it, it’s like keeping my son A full-time student can expect to spend alive,” she says. upwards of $650-$1,000 per semester for textbooks. Helping others and remembering her son have become inseparable for Finnie. “When Finnie knows all too well how daunting my son was little and played outside, he such expenses can be. She never forgot Staff Sergeant Daniel D. Merriweather always used to say to me that if anyone her struggle and how the generosity of May 27, 1984 – January 13, 2010 got hurt, I’d be able to fix them up. So I’m others helped her succeed. After losing fixing people up in his memory by helping her son, she would heal by helping others. nursing students achieve their degrees and She and her husband, Darryl, established the SSG Daniel excel at their careers.” D. Merriweather Book Scholarship in 2011 with $500. The fund quickly grew. Friends and donors stepped in to help To learn more about becoming a book scholarship sponsor, them with fundraising. Together, they created the Smash Up contact the Southwest Foundation at 901-333-4997 or visit Fitness fundraiser in 2016, an annual event that pays homage to SN






up to tackle recidivism among local youth


helby County Schools High School Counseling Manager Jeffrey Taylor has been working with Project STAND since the program launched four years ago. He says Project STAND is the one program that is really making a difference in the lives of at-risk students. “This is the first program I have seen that really brings long-term success because it educates the students and teaches them to advocate for themselves,” Taylor says. “Then, they are able to manage themselves.” The Student Transition Acceleration and National Career Readiness Certificate Demonstration group partnered with Southwest this past summer to offer students career-building courses in the culinary arts, computer coding, quality assurance and SafeServ training. The federally-funded intervention program is designed to help students who have been incarcerated get back on track by preparing for college or a career. The overall goal is to reduce recidivism by helping the students find jobs while they are in high school or become certified for jobs after they graduate. During a 4-day coding camp this past summer, 14 participants learned how to assemble circuits, some light programming and how to connect bits, boards, and buttons to bring the computer to life. “First they saw the circuit itself work,” said Forrest Smith, an assistant professor in Southwest’s

Instructor Forrest Smith taught students how to build electrical circuits and use coding to make a light turn on and off.

Computer Engineering Technology Department. “Then they learned how to control it with code.” Coding is one of the most in-demand job skills across multiple industries. Burning Glass Technologies, a leading national job analytics firm, reported programing jobs are growing 50 percent faster than the market overall, with nearly half paying $57,000 or more a year. Ra’quon Thomas sees a future in coding. “I know that technology is going to be taking over and you can make a lot of money in this field.”


Willton Cross agrees. “It can take you a long way. I would like to come back (to Southwest) and then have a job waiting for me when I graduate.” During a second workshop, students downloaded, installed, and ran custom robotic control software and used coding to perform tasks with a robotic arm. Smith says the students got a glimpse of how coding is used to control objects in their everyday lives like their phones, video games, robots and home automation. “It’s very different when you actually assemble a piece of something and it’s

dead, it’s not alive, it’s off,” Smith said. “And then with a few lines of code, you press a button, and the light comes on.” Student Quanterian Gray says he discovered his passion. “I would love to work around those things.” Helping students beat the odds Shelby County Schools Division of Alternative Schools adopted Project STAND in 2016 and serves students at George Washington Carver College and Career Academy. The students face significant barriers to success. Some come from dysfunctional homes or are involved in crime or are on the streets. The National Survey on Children’s Health and Data Resources Center for Children and Adolescent Health reports around 37 percent of children in Memphis have experienced two or more traumatic events in their lives. “Many parents are doing the best they can to just get through the day,” Taylor said. “And the kids have other issues they are dealing with in general. So it’s hard for the schools to teach them and then have to do things that they weren’t really designed to do, which is to deal with the things going on outside of school in the home.” According to Taylor, Project STAND makes a difference by providing personalized achievement plans and learning resources that address educational, behavioral and social needs. “The great thing about Project STAND is that the mentors and volunteers develop relationships with the students to demonstrate somebody cares about them,” Taylor said. “In a city like Memphis, that has the nation’s highest rate of young adults ages 14 to 24 who are not working or in school, this special bonding is critical to keeping them from failing and helping them stay on a path to success. “Some of these kids have made the wrong choices in life. We are working with them to keep them from making future mistakes,” Taylor said.

“ I really believe in this program. And we love working with Southwest.”

Ra’quon Thomas of Project STAND builds a light circuit using a Raspberry Pi computer during coding camp.

— Jeffrey Taylor

Instant impact, long-term results In just three short years, Project STAND is already showing positive results. Of the 156 students who have enrolled in the program, less than 10 have returned to detention. That’s a six percent recidivism rate, a tenth of the national rate. Kevontae Harper said Project STAND has helped turn his life around. “It has helped me figure out some things about myself and helped me be the man that I want to be.”

All Project STAND students take the National Career Readiness Certificate test, a certification required by many companies. According to Shelby County Schools, more 76 percent of the students pass. “I really believe in this program. And we love working with Southwest,” Taylor said. “If we can get these kids interested and excited in some of these fields and show them different career paths, then they will enroll and go on to college and have a better shot at achieving success in their lives.” SN


PARTNERS college after graduation,” Faulkner said. “MTSU, in turn, gets students who have benefitted from the many wrap-around services that Southwest offers and are now better prepared academically to transfer.” Faulkner adds MTSU is the top transfer destination in Tennessee. “The students really get the best of both worlds. These were students who attempted to go to MTSU, but were not admissible out of high school.”

Southwest welcomes first class of



eyton Wallace had her heart set on going to Middle Tennessee State University when she graduated from Collierville High School. She loved the campus. She liked the majors and all of the different programs they offered. But, she didn’t meet the admissions qualifications to get accepted at MTSU, and in her heart, she knew she just wasn’t ready yet to go to a four-year university. “I really wanted to go,” Wallace said. “But I don’t think I was prepared enough to move forward.” A high school guidance counselor told her about a program called MTSU Promise and how she could enroll at Southwest, get the support classes she needs to make at least a 3.0 GPA, and then transfer to an MTSU bachelor’s degree program with a guaranteed scholarship upon successfully completing two years at Southwest. “I thought that was the best fit for me,” Wallace said. “It is an opportunity to earn a good GPA and move on to a four-year college.”

The agreement consists of a letter from MTSU that refers the prospective student to Southwest to complete a two-year degree. The letter serves as a guarantee— that is the promise part—of a seamless hand-off with a scholarship if the student completes with a 3.0 or better GPA. “They receive the guidance and support that we provide at Southwest to help them stay on track, but then they are also being steered by MTSU who will be their future institution,” Faulkner said. Her counterpart at MTSU, Dr. Debra Sells, vice president for Student Affairs and vice provost for Enrollment and Academic Services, says transfer students perform best when they have gone to a two-year institution and completed their degrees. “Our goal was to make sure that we got the right students the right start,” Sells said. “For some students, the kind of care and attention they can get from a community college makes all the difference in the world in those first two years. We get them back and they qualify for admission and we can take them to the finish line.”

The students really get the best of both worlds.

Faulkner says since the agreement was signed, MTSU has referred 41 students to Southwest. Of that total, 23 have applied to Southwest and 18 have been admitted for the fall. “I think that is a great start,” she said. “That’s more than 50 percent who have applied.”

Wallace is one of 18 students who was in the first cohort that entered Southwest this past fall as part of the new agreement signed in the fall of — Jacqueline Faulkner Sells added that those are exactly the types 2018 between Southwest and Middle Tennessee of numbers they hoped to see. “We are very VP of Student Affairs State University. Students who participate sign excited to see those kinds of numbers and will be a “reverse transfer” agreement and get deferred similarly excited to see what is going on with our admission to MTSU and a $3,000 scholarship to other partners,” she said. attend for two years if they complete 60 credit hours and achieve a 3.0 GPA. MTSU pledged Southwest is one of six partners in the MTSU to help those students complete their associate Promise program. MTSU has signed agreements degree and then transition to their campus. Southwest shares with Chattanooga State, Cleveland State Community College, directory information with MTSU so students are included in Columbia State Community College, Dyersburg State tailored communications of emails and mailings that support Community College, and Motlow State Community College. the planning process for the bachelor’s degree after successful completion of the associate. MTSU is already a popular destination for Southwest graduates who are thriving in their new environment. Currently, there Jacqueline Faulkner, vice president of Student Affairs, says the are 247 students who enrolled and completed some transfer agreement is a win-win for both institutions. “Southwest gains work or have graduated from Southwest. DeAnna Black, a a pipeline of students to enroll in its programs and a chance 2018 student alumnus in the graphic arts technology program, for them to continue their education at a quality four-year is now working on a bachelor’s in graphic design. Black said


MTSU President Dr. Sidney A. McPhee and Southwest President Dr. Tracy D. Hall announce the “MTSU Promise to Southwest” Nov. 6, 2018. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler).

the transition to MTSU has been very smooth and that she was well equipped to transfer to a four-year college. “The instructors prepared me well to go to MTSU,” Black said. “My graphic arts classes were very informative and they gave me the technical skills that I need for the university. The rest was on me.” Black did not meet the minimum requirements to get into MTSU, but got the support classes she needed and did well in the smaller class setting at Southwest. “Being in smaller classes, the instructors really helped me improve, especially in math,” Black said. Southwest also helped Black build her social skills. She got involved with the Southwest student ambassadors and became an orientation leader. Black admits she would have been lost had she enrolled at a bigger college as a freshman. “It’s a different environment (at MTSU),” she said. “I thought it was going to be really, really hard, but Southwest prepared me well.” Faulkner said they are also now in discussions on how to grow the partnership with MTSU to benefit even more Southwest students in other degree programs. Southwest administration has identified two academic programs: media and entertainment, and mechatronics. MTSU has a nationally renowned media and entertainment department that offers degrees in animation, video and film production, and recording industry and audio production. The program

includes internships and participation in national media and entertainment events like the Grammys. Mechatronics would also be a good fit between Southwest and MTSU, according to Faulkner. Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary branch of engineering that combines mechanical, computer, robotics, telecommunications systems, and electrical engineering principles in an advanced manufacturing setting. Faulkner says manufacturing is more advanced in the 21st century and requires a degree or certificate training to diagnose and repair mechanical and electrical problems involving anything from pumps to electrical motors, gears, or rollers. Southwest has a mechatronics program and works with industries in medical device manufacturing, process control, paper, and logistics companies. MTSU has a new mechatronics engineering degree that offers classes in robotics and introduces students to industrial automation. Industry giants like Nissan and Bridgestone both have plants in Rutherford County. “With us having a mechatronics program, we want to partner with them so that we make sure we are setting our students up for optimal success upon completion and transfer,” Faulkner said. Sells agrees the partnership with Southwest has a lot of potential to grow. “I’d certainly be happy if we went down that route and expanded into more programs.” SN





Graduate Overcomes

two strokes to earn social work degree


erseverance, dedication and commitment are words often used to describe Southwest graduates. Simone Malone personifies that description. She first enrolled at Southwest in 2006 with a dream of becoming a social worker. Then, like a lot of Southwest’s nontraditional students, life happened, forcing her to put college on hold. “My life got hectic,” Malone said. “I had children. And then I had some trials and tribulations I had to deal with and had to stop going.”

President Tracy D. Hall singled out Malone for special recognition at Southwest’s 21st Commencement this past May at the FedExForum. She had good reasons. Malone suffered a stroke in 2011 and another in 2016, leaving her with impaired speech and weakened mobility. The second stroke also left her with severe back and emotional pain. “The stroke affected my right side,” Malone said. “It limited my mobility and made speaking difficult. Depression set in. It gave me anxiety. I didn’t know if I would make it.” The mother of five said it was a struggle to get her life back on track and to a point where she could even think about coming back to school. She decided after the second stroke that she wasn’t going to stay home and do nothing. She still wanted to complete her education so that she could become a social worker and work with children who are victims of sexual abuse. Despite the setbacks, Malone returned to Southwest in the fall of 2017, after a 10-year layoff, with a commitment to complete her degree and a determination to succeed. “She went through a lot of obstacles,” said Union Avenue Campus Academic Support Center Coordinator Tabitha Appleberry, who mentored Malone. “She is very ambitious when it comes to her work. I used to help her with different assignments and she would just push, push, push.” Whitehaven Center Director Verneta Boone says there were days when Malone could hardly speak. But even when she had bad days, Boone says Malone was more worried about missing class than her own health. “She is just a wonderful,

Simone Malone, mother of five, overcame two strokes and returned to Southwest to earn her degree in social work after a ten-year hiatus.

dedicated student,” Boone said. “Whenever the side-effects of the stroke triggered, her voice would tremble and she would stutter really, really bad. But she was determined not to miss class.” Boone says there were days when she and Tabitha had to send her home. “We would have to tell her to stop. We will get the work for you. You’re going to be able to make it up,’” Boone said. “She was not going to miss it. That’s why the teachers loved her. I was so happy to see her complete her degree.” Boone says Malone was not feeling well the day before graduation and that her children forced her to rest so that she would be physically able to walk with her fellow graduates at the ceremony. “Her daughter brought her up here one day on a cane to get her cap and gown because they really wanted her to experience everything at graduation,” Boone said. “They put her in bed so she would have the strength to make graduation. And she looked so pretty.” Appleberry says Malone was a superstar at Southwest. “I cried the whole ceremony. She made Southwest her best choice. I know she is going to do awesome,” Appleberry added. Boone agrees. “She’s not one of those people who is going to stop. She is going to keep pushing through it.” Malone says the faculty at Southwest saw something in her that she didn’t realize she had. She made the Dean’s List her final two semesters and graduated with an Associate of Science degree in social work. “This is just a dream come true,” she said. “I’m so happy because it’s been such a long journey. And I’m happy that my kids are here to see me. They were my support system, all five of them. I just feel blessed.” SN



Whitehaven Center

takes student-centered approach to course offerings with Funeral Service Education and Logistics


he Whitehaven Center is fully embracing President Tracy D. Hall’s big audacious goal to “redesign, reinvent, and reset” Southwest. The campus at 1234 Finley Road, nestled in the Whitehaven community, has a new flagship program and now offers more classes at more convenient times to better match the busy lives of its students. In January 2019, Southwest launched the first publicallyfunded funeral service education program in Tennessee at the Whitehaven Center. The college invested $139,000 to acquire two high-tech synthetic cadavers that students use to learn embalming and another $700,000 to transform unused space at the center into classrooms and labs specifically designed for the FSE program. When construction is complete this year, FSE students will enjoy a state-of-the-art facility outfitted with a visitation area with caskets where they will conduct mock funerals, a restorative art classroom to practice reconstructing facial features and a fully equipped embalming room where they will learn from licensed embalmers.


“Southwest will have a state-of-the-art, hands-on training facility like no other mortuary school in the state,” Funeral Service Education Program Director Ron Johnson said. “This program is everything I could have possibly dreamed or wanted. And the industry is excited about it, too.” Before Southwest began offering the program, students would have to drive three hours to John A. Gupton College in Nashville or Northwest Community College in northern Mississippi to get training, which made it difficult for funeral homes in Memphis to get licensed embalmers. Booker T. Auston, 61, said having classes at the Whitehaven Center is a wonderful convenience. “It’s too hard to go to Nashville,” Auston said. “Most of us can’t do that. What this program has done is relieve us of that stress. We can work our jobs and go to school.” College officials have been very pleased with the program’s early success. Allied Health and Natural Sciences Dean Evan McHugh says they were only expecting about 12 to 14 students to enroll for the first semester. Instead, over 30 students signed

up and they have since added another 17 students. “It has been a bonanza for us,” he said. “This was an absolute need in the community that was long overdue.” Logistics comes into focus Memphis is known as “America’s Distribution Center,” with global companies like FedEx, Nike, and Target having major logistics operations in Memphis. Currently, 1 in 5 jobs are related to transportation and Memphis added 15,000 logistics jobs between 1998 and 2018. An on-site logistics program is a natural fit for Southwest and the Whitehaven Center. Business and Legal Studies Chair Eddie Baker says logistics and supply chain management skills are in high demand and show no sign of slowing down. “If you buy and sell a product, you’re going to have logistics people,” Baker said. “And as long as we buy and sell goods, those jobs are going to be around.” Business and Technology Dean Robin Cole says Southwest is refocusing the logistics program at the Whitehaven Center so students can study during the day. Such core program courses as Principles of Transportation, Supply Chain Management, Warehouse Management, and Principles of Distribution and Logistics will be offered on-site instead of solely online. “We will schedule our logistics courses with our core business classes for the students’ convenience,” Cole said. “We also will continue our online classes for students who are already working in logistics and unable to attend traditional classroom offerings during the day.” Roquita Coleman-Williams, a Memphis native who is the solutions manager for Canadian National Railway and serves on Southwest’s Business Advisory Board, says logistics represents one of the best career opportunities for Memphis residents. “Memphis is a natural fit for logistics,” she said. “There are tons of opportunities for people in Memphis to work for global companies.” Coleman-Williams started out in sales and marketing with UPS straight out of college, then was recruited by the railroad to work in supply chain management. She says logistics is more than moving packages. “The diversity of opportunities in logistics is one of the most amazing things,” she said. “They need just about every skill or talent. If your passion is art, they need people who can use art for branding. If your passion is communications, there are occupations in logistics in marketing and public affairs. Even down to health care. There is space to utilize just about every skill or talent there is.” Coleman-Williams says there is a lot of room for advancement. At 42, she earned a conductor’s certification to drive a train to better understand the physical movement of goods in the supply chain. “While I was very good at sales and marketing, I still didn’t seem to have a real grasp of how the real operation worked,” she said. “It helped me to see the operations at a different level and, in the process, it added more value to the way I do my job. That’s one of the unique things about the logistics industry. You have

Roquita Coleman-Williams took advantage of an opportunity to expand her knowledge of logistics by learning how to drive a train.

an opportunity to do different things in different areas in order to develop yourself.” She says a career in logistics also offers Memphians—especially African-Americans—an excellent path to economic mobility. She saw education as a way out of the South Memphis housing project where she grew up. Whenever she talks to students or other groups, Coleman-Williams says she always tells them not to be imprisoned by their personal history or where they come from, that these circumstances are not a predictor of where they can go if they get an education. “When you look at an industry like logistics, it really does lend itself well to communities like 38126 to overcome poverty and achieve economic mobility. “Logistics is where you can get an education, access and experience. Southwest attracts students with diverse experiences who understand the challenge and are trying to move forward and discover economic mobility for themselves,” she said. “The more we are able to do that and keep our students here where they can work for those global companies, the more we will be able to build up our city and move people out of poverty and into a better economic position.” Logistics careers have traditionally been held by men, but Coleman-Williams says more and more women are becoming increasingly involved at all levels. “I’d like to see a lot more women of color in logistics,” she said. “A career in logistics can take them a lot of places.” SN



Police Services/Public Safety Department wins national safety award

Police Services/Public Safety Director Angela Webb and her division received the American Association of Community Colleges’ 2019 Community College Safety, Planning and Leadership Award at the AACC convention April 13-16 in Orlando, Florida. The prestigious award recognizes exceptional work among the nation’s 1,200 two-year, associate degree-granting institutions. AACC recognized Webb for her leadership and innovative practices in fostering a campus safety culture. Webb oversees a staff of 41 officers charged with providing a safe environment for more than 10,000 faculty, staff and students at two main campuses and three centers. The award is an endorsement of the college’s strategic planning and state-of-the art training to provide a campus free of injury and risk.

Angela Webb Police Services/Public Safety Director


CAMPUS NEWS Southwest awarded $2.1M

grant to close equity and achievement gaps In October 2019, Southwest was awarded a federal Title III grant of more than $2.1 million to foster equity and inclusion and student success through IDEAS—Inclusive Design for Equity in Academic Success. The SIP Grant will provide funds over a five-year period to support Southwest’s ongoing efforts to close equity and academic achievement gaps between white students and students of color in course success, retention and graduation. Set to launch spring 2020, IDEAS will focus on enhancing teaching and learning by providing culturally responsive and supplemental instruction infused with high impact practices, professional academic advising, peer mentoring/coaching and tutoring. The grant also provides funds for faculty to receive equity and inclusion training that will focus on race-conscious, culturally responsive course design methods that integrate an academic/growth mindset approach to teaching and learning.

Southwest opens new location at UT Martin - Somerville Center The University of Tennessee at Martin Somerville Center is Southwest’s newest and seventh location. The partnership allows students in the Fayette County area to take up to eight freshman level courses that are transferrable to UT Martin through the Tennessee Transfer Pathway. Plans are to add courses and programs to enable students to complete a credential at the site within the next 12-18 months.

President Hall appointed to AACC economic and workforce development commission and TBR Presidents’ Council

The American Association of Community Colleges appointed President Dr. Tracy D. Hall to serve on its Commission on Economic and Workforce Development beginning July 1, 2019. Dr. Hall is serving a three-year term on this national board where she works with community college presidents across the country to examine ways to close the American skills gaps by sharply focusing career and technical education on preparing students with the knowledge and skills required for existing and future jobs in regional and global economies. The Commission works with public and private sector partners and member colleges to provide assistance and identify strategies to improve student achievement and success. The AACC is the primary advocacy organization for the nation’s community colleges representing 1,051 two-year community colleges, and is governed by a 32-member Board of Directors. Tennessee community college presidents also elected Dr. Hall to serve as the 2019-2020 President of the Tennessee Board of Regents Presidents’ Council that represents the state’s 13 two-year public institutions. The TBR Board established the Presidents’ Council to oversee policy changes and make recommendations to the board. The meetings are not open to the public or the press.



Tameka Perry, Esq.

honored with Southwest Alumnus of the Year Memphian Tameka Perry, Esq. received the 2019 Alumnus of the Year award for achievements she has made in her legal profession at Southwest’s Commencement May 11 at the FedEx Forum. Perry received her Associate of Business Administration from Southwest Tennessee Community College in 1993. Two years later, Ms. Perry graduated with a bachelor of business administration from the University of Memphis. In 2001, Ms. Perry earned her Juris Doctorate from the University of Memphis where she was a Tennessee Pre-Law Fellowship Graduate Assistant. While pursuing her Juris Doctorate, Ms. Perry was the Judicial Law Clerk to Chief Justices’ George H. Brown, Jr. and Adolpho A. Birch, the first African Americans to serve in their positions on the Tennessee Supreme Court. She joined the law firm of Glassman, Edwards, Wade and Wyatt in 2002 presiding on cases involving civil tort litigation, contract disputes, malpractice and other claims, a job that would prepare her well for her next legal adventure in 2009 as Senior Associate Counsel for Shelby County Schools/Memphis City Schools. She was counsel during the historic merger of the Memphis City school district with the Shelby County school district in 2011. Currently, Ms. Perry is in private practice handling civil matters for various governmental entities.

Dr. Charles Edward Baker

honored with William W. Farris Faculty Service Award Dr. Charles Edward Baker, associate professor in the Paralegal Studies Program, received the 2019 William W. Farris Faculty Award at Southwest’s Commencement May 11. Baker was honored for his dedication to his profession in creatively forging community partnerships, developing new faculty initiatives and representing the college on national and statewide committees. Baker impacted his program’s curriculum development by serving on the Business and Legal Studies Blue Path Team with the City of Memphis and City of Memphis Police Department to implement a streamlined criminal justice degree for graduating high school seniors interested in the Police Service Technician program and a criminal justice certificate. He also implemented a new unified Associate of Applied Science in criminal justice degree. Baker has served in various capacities at the College and on multiple College and statewide committees.


Civil rights legend Bertha Rodgers Looney honored with Share the Love Award In recognition of her tenacity, courage, perseverance and lifetime of achievements, Southwest’s Diversity Club and Club of the Arts presented civil rights legend Bertha Rodgers Looney with the Sharing the Love Award this past February in celebration of Black History Month. Looney made history when she and seven other African American students walked onto the University of Memphis (then Memphis State University) campus in the fall of 1959 as the first African Americans, collectively known as the Memphis State Eight to integrate the College. The award is an extension of the Carter G. Woodson award established by former Southwest professor Clarence Christian to recognize individuals, groups or agencies who have contributed to, preserved or promoted the African American experience.


Free coding class

Lady Saluqi Ashley Shields

inducted into Memphis Amateur Sports Hall of Fame Former Southwest basketball AllAmerican Ashley Shields, who in 2007 was the first Women's National Basketball Association player drafted from a community college, was inducted into the Memphis Amateur Sports Hall of Fame December 3, 2018. Inductees into the sports hall of fame are recognized for their influence and contributions to the success of their sport. Shields played one magnificent season (2006-07) at Southwest, leading the Lady Saluqis to a 26-2 record and No. 13 ranking in the final National Junior College Athletic Association poll. The NJCAA and Kodak /Women's Basketball Coaches Association named her first team All-American that year and the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association named her to the Region VII All-Tournament team and TCCAA coaches unanimously selected her Player of the Year. Shields played for the Houston Comets and the Detroit Shock in her WNBA career and also played professionally in Israel, Slovokia, and Poland, where she led the Polish League in scoring, played in the All-Star game, and was selected first team All-League by Shields is head coach of the Mitchell High School girls’ basketball team in Memphis.

holds first graduation in Tennessee

Phi Theta Kappa

chapter earns 5-star honors The Upsilon Delta Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the college’s honor society, earned 5-star Chapter status for the second consecutive year. The honor was announced at the Tennessee Regional Convention, March 15-17, at Jackson State Community College. The chapter also won the top seat on the Regional Officer Team. The goal of the 5-star chapter plan is to building leadership skills and promote awareness of issues at the campus, local, regional, and global levels. Chapters also must research a study topic to implement their Honors in Action project. The Delta Chapter also received the Chapter of the Light Award that recognizes scholarship, leadership, service, and fellowship, hallmarks of Phi Theta Kappa. PTK is the international honor society of two-year colleges and academic programs, particularly state colleges and community colleges. Its mission is to recognize academic achievement and provide opportunities for students to grow as scholars and leaders.

The Tennessee Board of Regents partnered with Launch Tennessee and Southwest to bring LaunchCode’s LC101 free computer programming course to Tennessee for the first time in February 2019. The pilot program offered a free, part-time, 20week class for students aged 18 and older who are interested in learning technology skills, including coding, web development and other career-oriented expertise and may not have the time or resources to participate in a two-year program. Almost 900 residents signed up to take the aptitude test and more than 150 were enrolled in the groundbreaking coding class. Over 40 graduates received a certificate and up to 12 hours of course credit at Southwest during a ceremony at the Nursing, Natural Sciences & Biotechnology building on the Union Avenue Campus where classes were held. LaunchCode is a national non-profit organization with a mission to build a skilled workforce in the cities it occupies by creating pathways for driven people seeking careers in technology.


CAMPUS NEWS Southwest and Chamber

prepare students for logistics careers Southwest Tennessee Community College and the Greater Memphis Chamber partnered to offer a Global Business Development Import/ Export Processes and Documentation course this past winter. The new continuing education course is aimed at preparing students and professionals for advanced careers in logistics at companies specializing in delivering goods by land, sea, air and rail—all prominent industries in Memphis. Chamber Vice President of International Business Development Jinliang Instructor Larry Forman Cai and Global Logistics and Processes Course Facilitator Larry Forman designed the 12-week continuing education course with representatives from FedEx, Mallory Alexander International Logistics, and Drexel Chemical. Photo Credit: Isaac Singleton

Languages and Literature Department publishes scholarly works

Southwest offers new communication degrees In the age of all-consuming technology that represents an integral part of today’s Generation Z, potential employers are struggling to find new college graduates with strong communication skills. Southwest this past fall joined community colleges across Tennessee in offering two-year associate degrees in communication when the Department of Communications, Graphic, and Fine Arts launched an Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees in communication. Students majoring in communication can choose from a variety of career fields including: corporate communication, public relations, journalism, film and video, broadcasting, advertising, and mass communication. These two-year university parallel degrees (A.A. or A.S.) are designed for students who plan to enter the workforce upon graduation or continue their education to earn a bachelor’s in communication or a related degree at a four-year college. Department Chair Patsy Fancher worked alongside faculty members Lane Roberts, Bill Turner, Tracy McLaughlin, Holly Green and Martin Wakefield to make the new programs a reality.


Faculty from the Department of Languages and Literature published several scholarly and creative contributions to journals and books this past year. Tiffany Akin, LaToya Jefferson-James and Dr. Loretta McBride contributed to the Encyclopedia of the Black Arts Movement (Rowman and Littlefield, 2019), edited by Verner Mitchell. Akin wrote a chapter on sexual identity and the Black Arts Movement; JeffersonJames contributed essays on Malcom X, Una Marson and the Deacons of Defense and Justice; and McBride wrote about the poetry of Malcom X and other Civil Rights era authors. Susanna Jackson’s short story “Lunch Break” was published in the February edition of the journal, The Passed Note. Jackson’s story centers on a teenager who battles an eating disorder. Candace Jones published an article in the Journal of Evidence-Based Practices for Schools. Adam Sneed reviewed The Age of Analogy: Literature and Science Between the Darwins (Johns Hopkins, 2016), by Devin Griffiths, for the journal, Studies in Romanticism 57.4 (Winter 2018).


MONTH TEAMS FEBRUARY Feb. 1 Men’s Basketball Feb. 1 Women’s Basketball Feb. 3 Women’s Basketball Feb. 5 Men’s Basketball Feb. 5 Women’s Basketball Feb. 7 Baseball Feb. 8 Baseball Feb. 9 Baseball Feb. 11 Softball Feb. 14 Baseball Feb. 15 Baseball Feb. 15 Men’s Basketball Feb. 15 Women’s Basketball Feb. 18 Softball Feb. 19 Men’s Basketball Feb. 19 Women’s Basketball Feb. 25 Baseball Feb. 25 Softball MARCH Mar. 3 Baseball Mar. 3 Softball Mar. 6 Baseball Mar.6 Softball Mar. 7 Baseball Mar. 7 Softball Mar. 10 Baseball Mar. 25 Baseball Mar. 27 Baseball Mar. 27 Softball Mar. 28 Baseball Mar. 28 Softball APRIL Apr. 10 Baseball Apr. 10 Softball Apr. 11 Baseball Apr. 11 Softball Apr. 14 Baseball Apr. 17 Baseball April 17 Softball Apr. 18 Baseball April 18 Softball Apr. 20 Baseball



Cleveland State Cleveland State Blue Mountain JV Jackson State Jackson State Frontier Three Rivers Muskegon National Park Lake Land Lake Land Walters State Walters State Holmes Volunteer State Volunteer State Lawson State SAU Tech

4 p.m. 2 p.m. 5: 30 p.m. 7:30 p.m. 5:30 p.m. 2 p.m. 5 p.m. Noon (DH) 2 & 4 p.m. 3 p.m. Noon (DH) 4 p.m. 2 p.m. 1 p.m. & 3 p.m. 7:30 p.m. 5:30 p.m. 2 p.m. (DH) 1 p.m. & 3 p.m.

Verties Sails Gymnasium – Union Avenue Campus Verties Sails Gymnasium – Union Avenue Campus Verties Sails Gymnasium – Union Avenue Campus Verties Sails Gymnasium – Union Avenue Campus Verties Sails Gymnasium – Union Avenue Campus USA Stadium – Millington, TN USA Stadium – Millington, TN USA Stadium – Millington, TN Buckhead Creek Recreation Complex - Arlington, TN USA Stadium – Millington, TN USA Stadium – Millington, TN Verties Sails Gymnasium – Union Avenue Campus Verties Sails Gymnasium – Union Avenue Campus Buckhead Creek Recreation Complex Verties Sails Gymnasium – Union Avenue Campus Verties Sails Gymnasium – Union Avenue Campus USA Stadium – Millington, TN Buckhead Creek Recreation Complex- Arlington, TN

Lewis & Clark Williams Baptist JV *Dyersburg State *Dyersburg State *Dyersburg State *Dyersburg State Hinds Blue Mountain JV *Volunteer State *Volunteer State *Volunteer State *Volunteer State

2 p.m. (DH) 1 p.m. & 3 p.m. Noon Noon/2 p.m. Noon (DH) Noon & 2 p.m. 2 p.m. (DH) 3 p.m. (DH) 4 p.m. 2 p.m. & 4 p.m. 1 p.m. (DH) Noon & 2 p.m.

USA Stadium – Millington, TN Buckhead Creek Recreation Complex- Arlington, TN USA Stadium – Millington, TN Buckhead Creek Recreation Complex- Arlington, TN USA Stadium– Millington, TN Buckhead Creek Recreation Complex- Arlington, TN USA Stadium – Millington, TN USA Stadium – Millington, TN USA Stadium – Millington, TN Buckhead Creek Recreation Complex- Arlington, TN USA Stadium – Millington, TN Buckhead Creek Recreation Complex- Arlington, TN

*Roane State 5 p.m. *Roane State 2 p.m. & 4 p.m. *Roane State 1 p.m. (DH) *Roane State Noon & 2 p.m. Jackson State 6 p.m. *Cleveland State 5 p.m. *Cleveland State 2 p.m. & 4 p.m. *Cleveland State 1 p.m. (DH) *Cleveland State Noon & 2 p.m. Central Baptist JV 2 p.m. (DH)

USA Stadium – Millington, TN Buckhead Creek Recreation Complex- Arlington, TN USA Stadium – Millington, TN Buckhead Creek Recreation Complex- Arlington, TN USA Stadium – Millington, TN USA Stadium – Millington, TN Buckhead Creek Recreation Complex USA Stadium – Millington, TN Buckhead Creek Recreation Complex- Arlington, TN USA Stadium – Millington, TN

*Tennessee Community College Athletic Association Games


P.O. BOX 780 MEMPHIS, TN 38101-0780

2013 Commencement


a life.

KEONA “I’m thankful to have a tuitionfree education at Southwest, but I just couldn't afford all of my books. My family tried to help me buy some of them, but my mom was sick and out of work. Thank you to the Foundation and my donors for giving me the opportunity to complete the courses I need to prepare for enrollment in the nursing program.”

JENSEL “My book scholarship allowed me to complete my education. I earned two degrees and two certificates in electrical and computer engineering! Now I’m a control panel engineer at SHARP Manufacturing Company of America. Your investment in book scholarships really does transform a student’s life. It transformed mine.”

Visit our website at

Your Best Choice!

Southwest Now Magazine is a publication of the Communications and Marketing Department. 0110679REV13128- Southwest Tennessee Community College is an AA/EEO employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age in its program and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Executive Director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action, 737 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN 38103, (901) 333-5760.

Donate todayNOW at | 901-333-4577 36 | SOUTHWEST | SPRING 2020