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Students enrolled in a technical program or class at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College now have their very own support system to bridge the gap between enrollment and graduation. The Bridging the Gap Program is an initiative funded by the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Grant. The goal of the program is to help students succeed and graduate quickly. Southern’s Bridging the Gap staff consists of Counselor Cody Bailey and multiple Peer Coaches on the Logan and Williamson campuses. Staff members are focused on helping students in the program set and meet their educational and occupational goals. Peer Coaches are fellow students who have faced many of the same challenges participants face on their educational journeys, and the Counselor is readily available to help eliminate the barriers students face. Students who are part of the Bridging the Gap Program can expect an open line of communication with Peer Coaches and the Counselor whenever they need it. Monthly appointments are arranged with the assigned Peer Coach to check in and track progress, and the Counselor honors an open-door policy to eliminate a lengthy wait time. “I like to utilize an open-door policy so that students know they are my number one priority, that they can come to me at any time with whatever issues they may be facing,” said Counselor Cody Bailey. “My students are always welcome to drop by and discuss the challenges they are facing, or even just to say hello. My goal is to ensure that students know they are welcome any time, no appointment necessary.” Peer Coach Rachel Hicks expressed her hope that students would not hesitate to reach out to Bridging the Gap staff. “Having an open line of communication is so important, and students need to know we are here for them. It can mean the world to students simply to know that they have an entire group of people behind them to support them in their endeavors. We act as the shovels who are ready to pave the road to graduation for our students.” Any student enrolled in a technical, engineering, or welding class is eligible to participate in the Bridging the Gap Program. Specialized assistance can be given to students enrolled to earn a certificate or degree in mechatronics, welding, electrical engineering, information technology, or industrial technology. The Program is free to join, and the only step in joining is to sign a participation agreement. The agreement can be obtained from the Counselor or any of the Peer Coaches. Visit southernwv.edu for more information.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) today announced a partnership with Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College (Southern) uniquely designed for individuals receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits to enroll in a cohort pilot program at Southern to gain skills to succeed in the workforce. The ultimate goal of the program is to move more individuals and families toward achieving self-sufficiency.
“This pilot program will provide support to individuals seeking to improve their opportunities for gainful employment,” said DHHR Cabinet Secretary Karen L. Bowling. “I appreciate the support of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and First Lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin, as well as Southern’s commitment to preparing individuals for careers and look forward to seeing how this partnership improves the stability of West Virginia’s children and families. This pilot is setting an example that will likely be emulated across the state and nation.”
The pilot program was established by Secretary Bowling and First Lady Tomblin, former president of Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College. There are 21 TANF recipients identified as cohort students which will begin classes in the fall 2015 semester and will work toward a certificate or degree program. DHHR has assisted the cohort students in seeking financial aid and advisement from counselors in regard to the program they will choose.
“We are pleased to be a part of this innovative project. Our faculty and staff are looking forward to working in collaboration with these students and the WV Department of Health and Human Resources to design a career path that will lead to professional and personal success,” said Merle Dempsey, Interim Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College President.
Southern will offer these students assistance on all academic levels, from boot camps for math and English, to offering additional skills for their chosen program. Employers in the area were contacted to determine workforce needs so that individuals in the cohort would receive skills needed for emerging occupations in the area.
Data will be collected through the pilot period and if it is successful, the program will be implemented in other areas of the state.