How TN Reconnect Is Making College More Accessible

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How TN Reconnect Is Making College More Accessible

September 1, 2021

Join Next City for our webinar with Nashville State Community College President Shanna Jackson, and Jessica Gibson of Tennessee Higher Education Commission as they discuss TN Reconnect and how the program is assisting adult learners across the state.

TN Reconnect launched in 2018 with the goal of supporting adults over the age of 24 who want to earn their first postsecondary degree. The program provides both mentorship and financial support.

When applications first opened three years ago, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission expected about 10,000 applications. The actual number turned out to be four times more than that. The resulted was a 30% increase in the number of adult students attending postsecondary programs.

As with most things, COVID-19 threw a wrench in the program’s progress. In Tennessee, community college enrollment is down by 11.5 percent.

In this webinar, you will learn about the work it took to get TN Reconnect off the ground, how it affected adult learners at Nashville State Community College, and how the program is navigating the effects of the pandemic.

Speakers

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Dr. Shanna Jackson began serving as President of Nashville State Community College on June 1, 2018.  Nashville State is a six-campus comprehensive community college that serves a seven county service region. 

Jackson began her career in manufacturing. An opportunity to teach business courses part time started the path to a career in high education that spans more than 20 years.  Jackson brings to the position extensive administration, teaching, workforce and community development experience which includes leadership positions with Columbia State Community College, Volunteer State Community College and South College.

Actively engaged in the community, Jackson serves on the boards of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Alignment Nashville, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, Urban League of Middle Tennessee, and Memorial Foundation. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc, International Women’s Forum, Nashville’s Agenda and Women in Higher Education in Tennessee (WHET) where she is a Presidential Advisor.  

Dr. Jackson is a two-time Aspen Institute College Excellence Presidential Fellow, currently in the inaugural New Presidents Fellowship and completing the Aspiring Presidents Fellowship in 2019. 

Jackson earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a MBA from Florida A&M University and Ed. D. in Administration and Supervision from Tennessee State University. 

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Jessica Gibson is the Senior Director of Adult Learner Initiatives at the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. In this capacity, Jessica leads THEC’s initiatives that focus on increasing education attainment rates among adults, including those who started college but did not complete a degree or credential. Through this work, she contributes to strategic planning on student completion, including Tennessee Reconnect, the component of the initiative focused on adult learners.  Jessica administers several projects focused on adult learner completion, business and higher education engagement, student advising, and prior learning assessment initiatives. 

Prior to joining THEC, Jessica served six years as a policy analyst for the Offices of Research and Education Accountability, a division within the Tennessee State Comptroller’s office, before serving as a policy advisor for former Governor Phil Bredesen. Jessica holds a B.A. from Centre College and an M.A. in International Development Studies from The George Washington University.


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