Issue 548: 9 / 16 / 2014

Southwest Hosts U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s FAFSA Reform Forum

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander ...

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (standing center) holds up the current lengthy FAFSA form  in one hand and holds the proposed shorter version in the other.

In an effort to get local feedback and support for the Financial Aid Simplification and Transparency (FAST) Act, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee held a FAFSA Reform Forum on September 4 at Southwest’s Macon Cove Campus. Alexander (Republican) and Democratic Senator Michael Bennet, from Colorado, introduced the FAST Act on June 19, which if passed, could drastically reduce the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion process and, according to the National College Access Network (June 19, 2014), make other changes to help increase the low U.S. postsecondary completion rate for low-income students.

Representatives from several local school districts, specifically, Superintendents Dorsey Hopson (Shelby County Schools), John Aitken (Collierville City Schools), and David Stephens (Bartlett City Schools) were in attendance. The University of Memphis, Christian Brothers University, Lemoyne-Owen College, Tennessee College of Applied Technology of Memphis, organizations such as the Greater Memphis Chamber; and several area granting agencies and foundations were represented as well.

Southwest Tennessee Community College President Nathan L. Essex mentioned the impact that a shorter FAFSA form could have on Southwest students in his welcoming remarks. “The students that we serve here at Southwest face numerous challenges. Most are first-generation students. They face transportation issues. They cannot afford textbooks. Some are even homeless. But, they’re here because they have a desire to improve their circumstances and the quality of life for themselves and their families. Certainly, our mission at Southwest is to afford them as many resources as possible, as they endeavor to achieve their goals. We strive to minimize barriers including the tedious and very complex FAFSA form, which oftentimes, impedes our students’ efforts in completing their goals.”

Also welcoming the attendees was Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, who stressed the importance of advancing education. "I see so many people representing public education, higher education, and public education. In truth, he [Sen. Alexander] has assembled all of us who are interested in really advancing education across the state of Tennessee, particularly for us here in the Shelby County area,”Luttrell stated.

Sen. Alexander told the attendees that before he and Sen. Bennett introduce the FAST Act to the U.S. Senate, he wanted to get their opinions. “I am here to ask your advice,” Alexander said, following his introduction by Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton, who said of Alexander, “This is someone who has this in his blood. This is very dear to him. This is something that will affect, in a populous way, not only the lives of so many Tennesseans, but aspiring college students all around the country.”

Holding up a lengthy FAFSA form in one hand and a redesigned shorter form in the other hand, Alexander told participants that he was proposing to reduce the current lengthy, cumbersome FAFSA down to two questions or the minimum that adequately assesses the applicant’s family size, and would rely on the tax return for most of the germane financial information.

Southwest's President Essex supports a more simplified process and in a later statement to the college said, “The application process is perceived to be one of the barriers that many potential students encounter which results in hardships and untimely delays as they pursue college enrollment.  We were delighted to host the Forum as we also wish to remove barriers that our students encounter as they pursue their career goals and aspirations.”

View the FAFSA Reform Forum Photo Gallery.

Tennessee’s Community Colleges Host Scholarship Saturday to Encourage Students to Sign up for Tennessee Promise

Southwest Tennessee Community College will open its computer lab from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 20, for area high school seniors to sign up for Tennessee Promise and fill out their college applications as part of a statewide Scholarship Saturday.

The event is designed to encourage students to enroll in Tennessee Promise, the state’s new program that provides two years of community college or technical school tuition-free for any student graduating from a Tennessee high school.  It includes a mentoring component, as well as a last-dollar scholarship to cover tuition and fees not covered by the Pell grant, the HOPE scholarship or TSAA funds. Students may use the scholarship at any of the state’s 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology or other eligible institution offering an associate’s degree program. The Class of 2015 will be the first eligible to take advantage of the program, which is part of the Drive to 55 initiative to increase the number of Tennesseans with some form of post-secondary credential. 

During Scholarship Saturday, students may come to any Southwest location:  Macon Cove Campus – 5983 Macon Cove, 38134; Union Avenue Campus – 737 Union Ave., 38103; Maxine A. Smith Center – 8800 E. Shelby Drive, 38125; Milllington Center – 6500 Navy Road, Millington, TN, 38053; Whitehaven Center – Director's Row, Building 6, 38131; and Gill Center – 3833 Mountain Terrace, 38127, between the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and use the college’s computers to sign up online.

Free refreshments will also be on hand for anyone signing up. The college’s usual application fee of $10 will be waived for any student who also completes his or her college application during the event.  

“Tennessee Promise is such an incredible opportunity for students to pursue their dreams after high school,” said Vice President of Student Services and Enrollment Management Dwayne Scott. “We want to make signing up for the Promise a celebration for the students and also give them an opportunity to get their application to college in at the same time. This puts them well on their way down the path to a degree or certificate.”

Tennessee Promise Director Mike Krause said he hoped many Tennessee students would attend the event nearest them. “The Nov. 1 deadline to register for Tennessee Promise will be here soon, so we encourage students to sign up early,” Krause said. “The Scholarship Saturday event is a great opportunity for students to sign up at and enjoy getting a look at their possible future campus.”

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Southwest Tennessee Community College and Tennessee State University Sign a Student Transfer Partnership Agreement During the 25th Annual Southern Heritage Celebration

TSU President Glenda Glover (L ...

TSU President Glenda Glover (L) and Southwest President Nathan Essex sign an agreement that facilitates the transfer of student academic credits from Southwest to TSU.

Southwest Tennessee Community College (Southwest) President Nathan L. Essex and Tennessee State University (TSU) President Glenda Glover signed  a Student Transfer Partnership Agreement today that guarantees all the courses Southwest students complete on the Tennessee Transfer Pathway (TTP) will be accepted at TSU and count toward a baccalaureate degree. The signing was part of TSU's community outreach during this 25th Annual Southern Heritage Classic celebration.

The terms of this agreement include the awarding of 10 two-year full TSU scholarships with tuition and room and board to TSU beginning fall 2015. The partnership also contains a dual admissions component that builds on the TTP which was designed to help community college students plan for transferring to a Tennessee public university or select regionally accredited, non-profit, Tennessee private colleges and universities to complete their baccalaureate degree.

The TSU scholarship coupled with the TNPromise Scholarship, which provides May 2015 high school graduates the opportunity to attend a community college free of tuition and fees, will offer select Southwest scholarship recipients an opportunity for a remaining full two-year, tuition-free and room and board TSU scholarship in pursuit of the bachelor’s degree.

View more photos of the TSU and Southwest Student Transfer Partnership Agreement Signing Ceremony.

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Southwest's Academic Support Center Retools for 2014-15 School Year

Dr. Cynthia Calhoun entertains questions ...

Dr. Cynthia Calhoun entertains questions following a presentation during the ASC Orientation.

Maxine A. Smith Tutor Velencia ...

Maxine A. Smith Tutor Velencia Harris

Southwest’s Academic Support Center (ASC) provides tutoring, open academic computer labs, instructional resources such as DVDs, videotapes, textbooks and study areas to help students successfully reach their academic and career goals. The center is currently staffed with 14 scholarship peer-tutors and 28 professional-tutors. At the beginning of each semester year, an orientation is conducted to prepare tutors for the upcoming changes and challenges. Southwest held this annual event recently.

As Southwest strives to retain and graduate more students, Velencia Harris, a tutor for the Maxine A. Smith Center, commented on whether the ASC is using a different approach to tutoring. “It is not necessarily a different approach, as much as it is a consistent and practical approach when we say ‘We are here to help you and we are supporting you,’” said Harris. “I find that many students are apprehensive, if you will, and do not want to share and be open about not being able to do the work. Once they’ve shared that – the ice is broken. … Then, we’re able to help a lot more,” she continued.

Executive Director of Retention and Graduation Cynthia Calhoun, who also directs the ASC, gave us a deeper insight into the dynamics of the ASC and its current services and challenges.

Scoop - In light of the retention and graduation initiatives, how important is tutoring?
Calhoun - It is exceptional and growing as a best practice intervention for student success and the Center for Community College Student Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin lists tutoring as a promising practice for colleges in helping students to reach their academic goals.

Scoop - What are the major challenges you face?
Calhoun - Maintaining a pool of applicants to tutor in high demand subject areas on all campuses, appropriate space allocation for individual and group tutoring, annual updates for supplemental resources such as current textbooks and course software.

Scoop - Was there an increase in the number of students you served last year?
Calhoun - No. However, the ASC provided 34,588 services, including tutoring and supplemental resources such as computer use, textbooks, and class visits.  There were 6,268 unduplicated students served.

Scoop - Are you employing new strategies and techniques this school year?
Calhoun - Yes. The ASC is implementing tutor and supplemental instruction training for all tutors at the college, which includes tutors at the departmental level:

Scoop - How do the ASC services complement other retention efforts?

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Southwest Takes Pride in Upward Bound Program Students’ Success

Pictured (left to right) are ...

Pictured (left to right) are Counselor Ompie Nelson, Lakeisha Williams (is attending Southwest this semester and will transfer to TSU in January), Anthony Fulton (is attending Southwest and will transfer to TSU in two years), Joshua Whitten (is attending U of M), Octavious Johnson (is attending Lane College), Katavious Parker (is attending U of M), Kirmia Sawyer (will be attending Lane College in January) and Vallena Boothe (is attending Southwest and will transfer to MTSU).

Congratulations to Southwest Tennessee Community College Upward Bound Summer Bridge graduates, who have successfully completed the program, enrolled in college and are currently attending a postsecondary institution, including Southwest, the University of Memphis, and Lane College.

Several of the Upward Bound Summer Bridge graduates have plans to transfer to Tennessee State University (TSU) and Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). 

The Summer Academy allowed students to participate in various college activities including:  a five-week stay on the Christian Brothers University Campus; taking classes at Southwest's Union Avenue Campus; college tours at the University of Alabama in Birmingham; Paine College in Augusta, GA; Coastal Carolina University in Myrtle Beach, SC; and multiple cultural outings including the Beltz Museum here in Memphis, Crystal Grotto Shrine, and visiting the Colored School Museum in Myrtle Beach.

*Submitted by Ouida Warren, director of Upward Bound.

The Summer Academy students at ...

The Summer Academy students at the Colored School Museum in Myrtle Beach, SC.

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Poet Jason McCall Visits Southwest

Jason McCall

Jason McCall

Pierian and the Languages and Literature Department of Southwest present poet Jason McCall on September 26 at 1 p.m. on the Union Avenue Campus, Parrish 100. McCall is the author of Dear Hero, (winner of the 2012 Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize), Silver (Main Street Rag), I Can Explain (Finishing Line Press), and Mother, Less Child (winner of the 2013 Paper Nautilus Vella Chapbook Prize). He will read from his work and conduct a poetry workshop.

McCall is an Alabama native, where he currently teaches at the University of Alabama. He holds an MFA from the University of Miami, and his work has been featured in the Cimarron Review, The Los Angeles Review, New Letters, The Rumpus, and other journals.

If you are interested in submitting your poems and participating in the workshop, please contact Jerome Wilson at 901-333-5215 or e-mail at

Participation is limited and preference is given to current Southwest students.

This event is funded by Student Activities.

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Southwest Basketball Schedules Released

Southwest women’s basketball coach Andrea Martre and men’s basketball coach Jerry Nichols have released their 2014-15 schedules.  They feature 25 home games at the Verties Sails Gymnasium including nine women’s/men’s Tennessee Community College Athletic Association (TCCAA) doubleheaders.  In addition, the Lady Saluqis and Saluqis will play the nine conference opponents on the road for a total of 18 TCCAA games for each team.

The Southwest men’s team will open the season at home against the Bethel University JV on October 31.  The women will take on Bossier City in their opener, also on October 31, at the Baton Rouge Classic in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and will also play Mississippi Gulf Coast in the classic on November 1.  The following weekend, Southwest will begin conference play on the road at Chattanooga State on November 7 and at Cleveland State on November 8.  The first conference home games will be a week later against Walters State on November 14 and Roane State on November 15.

The Lady Saluqis and Saluqis will also play non-conference games against Mid-South (home and away) and Mississippi Delta (home).  In addition, the men will play at Bethel JV and in the Tallahassee Thanksgiving Tournament in Tallahassee, Florida, while the women will play Three Rivers and Wallace State in the Lady Saluqis Classic and also host Arkansas Baptist.

Southwest will host the 2015 TCCAA/NJCAA Region VII Tournament March 3-7 at the Verties Sails Gymnasium. The women’s and men’s tournament champions will receive an automatic berth in the NJCAA National Tournament March 16-21 in Salina, Kansas (women) and Hutchinson, Kansas (men).

To view the 2014-15 Basketball Schedule.

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