For Immediate Release - Southwest Tennessee Community College

Date: October 12, 2010

"Conversation with the Mayor" Southwest Tennessee Community College Students Visit City Hall

One tenet of Southwest's new First Year Experience (FYE) Program is that "students will get a firm grasp on the 'big picture' of their education as it will affect all aspects of their lives," according to FYE Director Deborah Frazier. That purpose took them downtown to City Hall on September 24 to "Have a Conversation" with Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, city leaders, and some successful young Memphians, to get the good word on good reasons to"stay in Memphis." That's the essence of an initiative, "Talent and Human Capital," that Mayor Wharton has established to educate our youth and then keep them in Memphis as they start their careers.

Among civic and business leaders at the podium were Douglas Scarboro, executive director of the Talent and Human Capital Office; Myron Lowery, Memphis City Councilman, Super District 8 and former interim mayor of Memphis; and Dr. Steven Bares, president and executive director of the Memphis Bioworks Foundation – which claims Southwest as a partner in promoting the foundation's work – co-founder of the Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering, Tennessee's first charter school and strong advocate of education.

"Learning the big picture' was one of the biggest reasons for arranging the forum," said Frazier. But also, she added, "We wanted to get them excited about what they are doing and show them what a vital force they can – and must – be for themselves and for the city."

FYE student Andrew Skyes introduced Mayor Wharton, who was very direct in expressing his conviction that "your most important task is to take advantage of the education that is open to you at Southwest," and he urged them to make success there a priority in their lives. He emphasized the importance of gaining an education beyond high school and discussed his efforts to work with all institutions of higher education and how that will help Memphis to grow. Joining in, his guest speakers emphasized the same message, among them Dr. Bares, who also invited students to prepare for a career in biosciences.

"Successful young Memphians," including Southwest's Lisa Jones, assistant professor of Engineering Technology, described careers in engineering technology and Southwest's educational opportunities for the field – "Look into it; there's so much to offer in this field."

Among student responses to the day's outing were Kameisha Carr: "I had a great experience at City Hall. This was the first time I got to see the mayor and it was great. I learned that you can achieve anything you want to, if you try hard enough."

Dell McAtee and Heather Bonds, Memphis interns in the Department of Leadership and Higher Education, stated, "We believe the program was a success, based in part on the students' embracing the relevant information and suggestions that the panelists provided… These students took advantage of the wealth of knowledge present at City Hall on Friday."

Among FYE faculty members attending were FYE Director Deborah Frazier and Case Manager Carolyn Chalmers; Evelyn Little and Cleo Hobson, Freshman Seminar; Lillie Jackson and Steve Black, Writing; Sandra Murrell and Lisa Loden, Math; Angela Payne, Office Administration;  and University of Memphis interns Heather Bonds and Dell McAtee.

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Photo Caption: "Conversation with the Mayor" included, from left, Dana Dye, chief nursing officer, Baptist Memorial Hospital; Lisa Jones; Andrea Johnson-Haynes, owner of the Bubble Bistro; (standing) Douglas Scarboro and Mayor A C Wharton; Terry Spicer, business owner, Cookie Bakery; Myron Lowery and Dr. Steven Bares.

For more information contact: Pat O'Brien, (901) 333-4021, pobrien@southwest.tn.edu,
Farris Bldg., Room 1002, 5983 Macon Cove, Memphis, TN 38134