Issue 604: 5 / 10 / 2016

Southwest’s 2016 Commencement: 1,275 Candidates Transitioned from Students to Alumni

Graduates of Southwest's Class ...

Graduates of Southwest's Class of 2016 with diplomas in hand; the smiles say it all.

Commencement Speaker Chef Phillip Ashley ...

Commencement Speaker Chef Phillip Ashley Rix

Commencement Student Speaker Krista Matheny

Commencement Student Speaker Krista Matheny

Southwest Tennessee Community College awarded associate degrees and certificates to 1,275 candidates during its 2016 Commencement Ceremony on May 7 at the Landers Center in Desoto, MS.

Nationally recognized Chocolatier Chef Phillip Ashley Rix delivered an inspirational commencement speech to the graduates relating his unconventional journey from a corporate executive to a celebrated chef and entrepreneur. “The amazing thing is you sit at a point in time where the possibilities are endless. There’re doors that are yet to be opened, simply waiting for you to knock,” said Chef Rix.

Southwest President Dr. Tracy D. Hall commended the graduates for persisting in their struggles to reach this milestone stating, “It is through perseverance, dedication, and commitment that you have achieved your educational goals and are being honored today.”

Dr. Hall gave special recognition to graduates Jason Woods and Carson Davis for the courage, talent, and determination exemplified during their educational pursuits. Woods, having total hearing loss due to meningitis at the age of three, completed his Associate of Applied Science Degree in Electronic Technology with a 2.65 GPA.

Davis graduated with an Associate of Science Degree in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway in Business Administration with a 4.0 GPA (summa cum laude) while also earning his high school diploma where he was homeschooled (Homelife Academy).

Southwest graduates who served our country in the armed forces were also honored.

Commencement Student Speaker Krista Matheny cheered her classmates saying, "The pain of all those late nights and early mornings was all worth it today. What caused all of us to be here, after all of the ups and downs of receiving an associate degree? Commitment.”

Also during the ceremony, Vice President for Institutional Advancement Karen Nippert presented the Alumnus of the Year Award to Pamela L. Finnie. And Southwest Foundation Board Member John M. Farris presented the William W. Farris Faculty Service Award to Twyla J. Waters.

 View the Southwest Commencement 2016 Photo Gallery.

Southwest Was the Launch Site for The Shelby County Early Childhood Education Plan

Macon Cove Pre-K students transitioning ...

Macon Cove Pre-K students transitioning to kindergarten received backpacks from Dr. Deanna McClendon (2nd row center) for Shelby County Schools Early Childhood Programs.

Educators from pre-school to college, as well as government and community leaders, waded through heavy down pours to witness the official launch of the Shelby County Early Childhood Education Plan (SCECEP) at Southwest’s Macon Cove Childcare Center on April 21. SCECEP is a comprehensive blueprint aimed at ensuring all children in Shelby County receive the aligned, high-quality support they need from birth so that they read on grade level by third  grade. PeopleFirst Partnership, along with more than 30 education, philanthropy, government and business organizations collaborated to help develop the plan.

Chairman of the Board for PeopleFirst Partnership and Tennessee Board of Regents Member Barbara Prescott remarked, “I have waited a long time as many of you have, to have such an effort to lift up early childhood education in this community. Once Shelby County and Nashville Metro came together, applied for and won the Pre-K Expansion Grant, it mandated that we not just look at Pre-K, but that we look at the years before and the years after, so that our Pre-K experience will really have its full potential in helping children be prepared in third grade to read."

After citing national statistics, Southwest President Dr.Tracy D. Hall enumerated data regarding the lack of preparedness for many of Southwest's first-time freshmen, which hinders their successful pursuit of a college education. "… Therefore, we are very excited about a PeopleFirst initiative and are pleased that the launch is taking place here in our center today,” Dr. Hall stated.

Dr. Mary Palmer, director of the Macon Cove Campus Childcare Center, made a presentation on the history of Pre-K initiatives. Shelby County Schools Director of Early Childhood Programs Deanna McClendon presented backpacks to Southwest’s Pre-K students who are transitioning into kindergarten.

“This is a day to celebrate. This is the day we are coming together with one mission and one goal. And eliminating all those silos where so much good work has gone on over the years, but which by itself cannot accomplish what you're talking about accomplishing. For us to get to a point of having 90 percent of our third-graders reading proficiently, it's going to take collective cohesive efforts that this plan represents,” said Kathy Buckman Gibson of SCECEP.

Besides being selected as the launch site, another highpoint for Southwest was the Mary H. McDaniel Foundation’s matching grant awarded to the college by Mary H. McDaniel, vice chairman of SCECEP and Southwest Foundation board member, and an alumna (former State Technical Institute at Memphis).

View the SCECEP Launch Photo Gallery.

Back to Top

Southwest/MLGW Spring 2016 Lineman Program Graduation

Instructors and Linemen Earnest Holliday ...

Instructors and Linemen Earnest Holliday and Jerome Moss with their most recent class of graduates on the 63-foot utility pole.

Submitted by Ron Wells
Director, Millington Center

Did you know that nearly all of Memphis Light, Gas and Water's (MLGW’s) linemen are graduates of Southwest’s Electric Utility Construction (Lineman) Program? Have you ever wondered about our “pole farm” just east of the Macon Cove Campus Field House? For over two decades, Southwest and MLGW have partnered to provide training for people interested in becoming MLGW Lineman apprentices. Students learn about electricity, electrical distribution and the installation, maintenance and construction of utility poles and high towers. This rigorous and demanding program includes over 180 classroom hours and 170 hours on the poles. Personal safety is always a critical topic.

The program has evolved over the decades to decrease attrition and improve the readiness of the candidates to be lineman electrician pre-apprentices.  Although not guaranteed, nearly all graduates are offered positions with MLGW, and have the opportunity to enroll in MLGW’s DOL-approved apprenticeship program.

Our partnership may be the only comprehensive program in the nation that allows students to attend class while still working a full-time job. Other than lineman boots, MLGW provides all of the required tools, training equipment and safety gear. There are not a lot of them, but other lineman training programs are boot camp type training, around 10 weeks long and require the students to purchase their own tools and equipment, and pay for housing. The cost is several times the cost of our program.

So, now you know where MLGW linemen come from.

Back to Top

Tech Giant Google Reaches Out to Get Memphis Small Businesses Online

More than 80 Memphis-area small ...

More than 80 Memphis-area small business owners work on websites at a Google "Let's Put Our Cities on the Map" workshop at Southwest Tennessee Community College. 

Excerpts from The Commercial Appeal
May 5, 2016
By Kevin McKenzie

More than 80 Memphis-area small business owners gathered in a community college auditorium today to learn about getting an online business presence from an industry giant, Google.

 A business website that looks good on a desktop computer isn’t keeping up with today’s consumers, said Soo Young Kim, who heads the California-based technology company’s small business engagement from offices in New York.

 With its “Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map” initiative, Google is providing free advice and online tools to small businesses for building “responsive design” websites that also display well on mobile phones and devices, Kim said.

 “We know now that people are using their phones for everything, even before they go and shop, even when they want to learn something, when they want to do something,” she said.

 …With some 30,000 cities across the country, Google also is teaching small business owners how to ensure that their business information and images pop up with a free “Google My Business” feature that pops up when consumers use Google’s search engine.

… The Tennessee Small Business Development Center at Southwest Tennessee Community College partners with Google to provide similar seminars on a quarterly basis about getting an online presence, but this was the first gathering in Memphis led by Google’s experts, said Rory Thomas, the center’s executive director.

 Small business owners are at a competitive disadvantage if they don’t know how their firms are appearing in Google searches, or where whether customers coming to their websites may be visiting competitor’s first, Thomas said.

 “Most people have no idea,” he said.

Summer Owens, one of the small business owners in the audience at Southwest’s Macon Cove Campus, said Google’s information is very valuable, especially for entrepreneurs just starting out.

Owens, 36, said she learned the hard way about getting a website after starting her motivational speaking business, S.O. What! LLC, about four years ago. She’s also started a nonprofit foundation as a former teen mom with a marketing background who worked for the Memphis Grizzlies, ServiceMaster and FedEx before starting her own firm, she said.

 “I don’t have a physical location for my business anyway, nor do I want one, so an online presence is crucial for me to get business,” Owens said. “Just like everybody else, everybody finds me online.”

… In Tennessee, Google has gained recent attention with an announcement last December that it is putting a $600 million data center in Clarksville, about 50 miles northwest of Nashville.

… Still, the tech giant’s goal is to help small firms acquire the online capability that has become “business hygiene,” Kim said.

 “We hear from a lot of small businesses that even before they get funding, people want to see a website,” she said.

View the Google Initiative Photo Gallery.
Photos by Robert Jackson of Southwest

Back to Top

The Southwest Tennessee Community College Foundation Receives a $25,000 Grant from The Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis

Willie Burley (pictured second from ...

Willie Burley (pictured second from the far right), represented Southwest at the press conference.

Submitted by Rose Landey
Executive Director of Institutional Development

On April 29 at the Cook Convention Center, during a press conference held by the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, it was announced that the Southwest Tennessee Community College Foundation was one of numerous grantees selected to improve the 38126 zip code area. A $25,000 grant awarded to the Foundation will focus on Computer Software Specialist Career Training, and will provide tuition assistance for low-income individuals residing in zip code 38126 to earn a Computer Software Specialist (CSS) certification. 

The CSS certificate can be completed in two semesters and lead to a two-year degree program. The program allows students to see themselves as professionals with skills to acquire a living wage job and move up the career ladder.  

The program will begin this summer. For more information call Department Head of Technologies Willie Burley at 333-4150.

Back to Top

General Construction Services Employees Completed the CTCE Supervisor Training Class

Students from General Construction Services ...

Students from General Construction Services display their completion certificates for the Supervisor Training Class.

Southwest’s Corporate Training and Continuing Education (CTCE) Department provided the Supervisor Training Class for General Construction Services (GCS) employees recently. GCS is an environmental engineering and contracting company that offers environmental remediation services. Eight of the company’s employees completed the class and participated in a graduation ceremony.

GCS President Martyn Hammond congratulated the graduates stating, “The key to delivering really good job services to the clients is you guys. Because you are the guys – you are the supervisors who are the first line of defense – if you like, or the first line of offense for getting these jobs done. And if you do a good job, which most of you do, and all of you will do better now because you’ve been trained, then that makes our jobs a lot easier.”

Taught by Southwest Adjunct Instructor Gwendolyn Tucker, the Supervisor Training Class equips students with the practical skills needed to effectively manage their teams. “From communicating expectations, to giving feedback, and building teams, supervisors learn how to help their organization achieve its goals,” said Tucker. Upon completion, she said, “Students were able to take in the information and identify ways to practically apply it in the workplace.  In addition, participants were able to learn from fellow classmates.”

Some of the graduates commented:

Supervisor Training is just one of the many classes offered by CTCE whose mission is:  To foster workforce development in the region through a comprehensive continuing education program that consists of customized corporate training, career training, lifelong learning opportunities and business-education partnerships.

 “Training is the key to any organization's success. When an organization invests in training for their employees, they are guaranteed a return on their investment (ROI). When employees understand the organization's purpose and bottom line, they are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done effectively,” said CTCE Coordinator Kathy Simpson.

View the Supervisor Training Class Graduation Photo Gallery.

Back to Top

Southwest’s Math Department Hosted the 15th Annual TMATYC Conference

Conferees came from both ends ...

Conferees came from both ends and the middle of the state to the 15th Annual TMATYC Conference.

Dr. Cheryl Cleaves

Dr. Cheryl Cleaves

The 15th Annual TMATYC (Tennessee Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges) was held April 8-9 at Southwest and hosted by the college’s Math Department. TMATYC is a nonprofit, educational association for those interested in mathematics education within Tennessee two-year colleges. It is the official Tennessee affiliate of the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges (AMATYC).

Explaining the purpose of the organization, TMATYC President Michael Darrell from Columbia, TN, stated, “The organization exists as a means for professional development.” He indicated the most significant contributions that TMATYC has made to the field of mathematics in Tennessee is the sharing of knowledge. “I would say that one of the biggest contributions is that we [TMATYC] have faculty members that are within the first few years of teaching; we have faculty members that have been teaching for 25 and 30 years that are all members. So, we have the older faculty members bringing in their years of experience. We have the newer faculty members bringing in the newer knowledge of trends in technology. And then, we teach each other and bring these ideas back to our respective schools and share them with our colleagues,” explained Darrell.

One of the highlights of the conference for Planning Committee Chair and Southwest Associate Professor William Weppner was the opening night presentation from Southwest Professor Emeritus Cheryl Cleaves. "She was one of the original founders of TMATYC and the national organization AMATYC. So she's going to be the principal speaker at our banquet and we are really looking forward to that," Weppner commented during registration.

“Dr. Cleaves' presentation was about how to turn 'Negatives into Positives.' In her presentation, she basically shared how she and the late Dr. Margie Hobbs, from the early days of their career to the last days of Margie's life, faced difficult tasks together and brought positive outcomes. She ended her presentation with an emotional slide show with Margie's pictures,” said Mahmuda Annie Sultana, assistant professor of Mathematics for Southwest.

Concurrent sessions were offered covering topics from Lessons from Common Core - Questioning and Open-Ended Problems; Co-Requisite Model: Challenges and Best Practices; Mobile Tech: The Next Generation; Engaging the Learner in the Digital Age to Noise in the Static: Institutional Data Analysis, and much in between.

Pearson, McGraw-Hill, and Cengage were the sponsors of this well attended conference. There was representation from all areas of the state.

View the TMATYC Conference Photo Gallery.

Back to Top

Southwest and The U of M Joined Forces to Present the “Lightning Talks” BIT/MIS Seminar

Executive Director for the Greater ...

Executive Director for the Greater Memphis IT Council Regina Whitley (standing top left) welcomed the attendees.

Southwest’s Business and Legal Studies Department hosted the "Lightning Talks: Illuminate Me About BIT/MIS (Business Information Technology/Management Information Systems), but make it quick" seminar in partnership with The University of Memphis (U of M), Fogelman College of Business on April 21. The event featured 15 speakers from business, industry, and government who discussed the future of technology in business and how one can leverage MIS in one’s career to become successful.

“The presentations are high-energy and dynamic with each presenter’s slides automatically advancing every 20 seconds. Each presenter shares their passion for technology-in-business for five-minutes, then the next presentation automatically begins,” Event organizer, Dr. Joan McGrory, associate professor of Business and Legal Studies for Southwest described.

The seminar included a welcome by the Greater Memphis IT Council, a presentation by the Chief Information Officer from Shelby County, representatives from Hilton Worldwide, FedEx, Southwest alum, The U of M professors, and Rhodes College.

Dr. Bob Johnson, vice president and chief information officer at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, presented College and Your Career: That’s IT. He explained, “College and Your Career: That’s IT was about the role of the four-year degree in providing key benefits to students that ad hoc, online, or on-the-job training cannot provide. While many technical skills courses are available outside of college programs, the benefits of college for the person interested in an IT career pertain to managing the personal and interpersonal dynamics of business, whether non-profit, corporate, or entrepreneurial. College provides a low-risk, testing ground for new ideas and skills. The University of Memphis BIT website illustrates the wide range of career advantages students acquire from completing such a four-year degree program.”

Presenter Beverly Anderson, virtual bookkeeper and founder of the Home-Based Business Chamber remarked, “Home-based businesses are nothing new in America. Remember the ‘Candy Lady?’ We all had one in the neighborhood. The onset of technology changed the way home-based business owners, including the Candy Lady, do business in the areas of productivity, collaboration, resourcing, interaction and participation, cost management and efficiency. There are more than four million home-based businesses operating in the U.S. (U.S. Census) generating more than $400 billion to the national economy.”

“The U of M started this event last year on their campus. This is the first time this event has been held on the Southwest campus and the first time the event has been held in partnership with U of M and Southwest," said McGrory.

View "Lightning Talks" Photo Gallery.

Back to Top

Carpenter Primary Healthcare PLLC Wins 2016 Tennessee Minority Business of the Year Award

Pictured is Dr. Terri Carpenter ...

Pictured is Dr. Terri Carpenter (R) and Kenneth Carpenter, owners of Carpenter Primary Healthcare PLLC.

Carpenter Primary Healthcare PLLC, owned and operated by Dr. Terrell (Terri) Carpenter and Ken Carpenter, was recognized as the 2016 Tennessee Minority Business of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) during National Small Business Week which was held from May 1-7. 

The SBA Tennessee District Office presented the Carpenters with the award during the Tennessee Small Business Week Awards ceremony on May 5 in Nashville at the SBA District Office.

Founded in February 2015 to address the need for quality primary care in the underserved Whitehaven community where the Carpenters live, Carpenter Primary Healthcare has already served hundreds of patients, created new jobs and continues to offer free healthcare screenings to individuals in the community each month.

Rory Thomas, executive director of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center (TSBDC) at Southwest, nominated Carpenter Primary Healthcare for the award. “I’m very excited to have a minority-owned business in Memphis earn this prestigious statewide award. Carpenter Primary Healthcare in its short existence has already made significant economic contributions to our community,” said Thomas.

The Carpenters credit the TSBDC and the City of Memphis programs for assisting them in achieving early success. Dr. Terri Carpenter stated, “The staff at the TSBDC and the City of Memphis Renaissance Business Center enriched us with the necessary programs and support that provided Carpenter Primary Healthcare PLLC with the foundation to enter the world of business. Due to their availability, willingness and concern to share their expertise, we were able to achieve our goals in the community we serve.”

For more information about Carpenter Primary Healthcare PLLC, call 901-348-6426 or visit For more information on TSBDC, visit or call Rory Thomas at 901-333-5085.

Back to Top

An Evening Extravaganza in Review

Submitted by Malinda Wade
Associate Director of the Honors Academy

(An Evening Extravaganza was held during the month of March on the Southwest Macon Cove Campus.)

The evening was awesome! We opened up with a welcome by yours truly, Malinda Wade, followed by a meet and greet, "It takes Two!" Each guest had to go and introduce themselves to at least two other guests! We had guests from the faith-based community, State Representative John Deberry, and former State Representative Carol Chumney, among others. There were those from the civic community, educators, parents and students, as well as Southwest faculty and staff.

We were entertained by a spoken word/dance ensemble, "Souls of Fire," representing the Memphis Black Arts Alliance. They presented Black History Now, and a presentation by Jordan Foltz, entitled the "Importance of Diversity in our Society." We were also dazzled by our in-house Diva and Assistant Professor Valetta Brinson who sang several Arias: Ava Maria- Bach/Gounod, Piangero la sorte mia- G. F. Handel's Julius Caesar, Vocalese by Sergei Rachmanioff, and Italian Works by G. Caccini and G. Torelli. She was accompanied by Julliard-trained pianist Arthur Hart. 

It was wonderful! This program is designed to be a "LOVEFEST!" All guests are invited to thank them for what they do at this institution and in the Memphis community.

View the Evening Extravaganza Photo Gallery.

Back to Top

Stennis Signs With Alabama

LaKyesha Stennis

LaKyesha Stennis

LaKyesha Stennis, this year’s TCCAA women’s basketball Player of the Year and a member of Southwest’s 1,000-point club, has signed a national letter of intent with the University of Alabama to continue her education and basketball career.

Stennis, a native of Lexington, Kentucky, was a third team All-American selection as a sophomore and was honorable mention as a freshman last season. Stennis, a two-time first team All-TCCAA honoree, scored 1,021 points in her career at Southwest which ranks her sixth in the program’s history. As a sophomore, she led the conference and ranked in the Top 10 nationally with an average of 20.3 points per game and also led the Lady Saluqis in free throw percentage (.759) and steals (2.1 per game).

Back to Top