Brown is majoring in Mechanical Engineering and Mrs. Sherie Grace, Dean of Student Services, submitted him as a possible speaker. He was chosen by the Alabama Community College System from students all over the State of Alabama.
In her recommendation of Brown to ACCS, Dean Grace stated, “Juan Brown is a unique student with an extraordinary story. Juan is a first generation college student who took advantage of dual enrollment while in high school. He has achieved great success in his college coursework and will transfer in the fall. Juan is not the only one in his family that has taken advantage of the opportunities that NACC has to offer. Juan’s mother has been enrolled in the Adult Education – ESL program at NACC and is becoming more fluent in the English language.
“Being able to take his first two dual enrollment classes at Fyffe High School was extremely advantageous for Juan. This experience gave him the confidence to pursue additional dual enrollment coursework and build important relationships with college staff. He maintained a full schedule of activities while pursuing dual enrollment, including participating in Skills USA and placing in masonry at the state level, and achieved a 4.0 GPA in high school and college.
“Choosing a college close to home has allowed Juan to not only develop and thrive as a college student but has also afforded him an entrepreneurial opportunity to begin a small masonry business to pay for additional College costs. He has maintained excellent grades at NACC while taking rigorous coursework. As an example during the fall semester, he completed Calculus II, Linear Algebra, Physics with Calculus I and C++ Programming while participating in multiple student organizations, working part-time and volunteering to tutor other students in his classes. Thanks to dual enrollment, Juan graduated high school with 21 hours of dual enrollment credit, will complete an Associate’s Degree in mechanical engineering at NACC in roughly fifteen months with no debt and will be able to complete his Bachelor’s Degree in three years,” concluded Grace.
Brown expressed appreciation for the opportunity to share his story. In addressing the crowd at ACCS Day he said, “My parents have always wanted me to have a better life than their own, so they knew a major factor would be my education. I realized early on that I would face many barriers along the way. Neither of my parents attended college. My mother completed middle school in Mexico and my dad did not pursue a college education. My mother arrived in the United States in 1993. To begin with, my mother did not speak English and had limited knowledge of the US educational system. I did all I knew to do and performed as well as I could in high school. In the 11th grade two representatives from Northeast Alabama Community College came to inform us about the dual enrollment program. Having no plans prepared for college, I thought taking two college history classes would be a wise first step. However, I knew that paying the tuition would not be easy for my family. Fortunately, I was awarded a needs-based scholarship donated by the DeKalb County Community Development Commission and earned my first two college As.”
He continued, “My senior year there would be four more dual enrollment courses offered at my local high school, two English and two math. I decided that I would be interested in taking them as well, but the same financial issue came up. I brought this issue forward to Dean Grace and Mrs. Staci Miller, the two ladies that had introduced me to dual enrollment. They, along with my counselor at Fyffe High School, worked hard at finding a solution for me. They presented two possible solutions. One solution consisted of a Workforce Development Technical Dual Enrollment Scholarship, where I would take an Engineering Technology class at NACC and would be able to match an academic class with the technical course. The Technical Dual Enrollment Scholarship would cover the tuition and fees for my courses but not my books. The Technical Dual Enrollment Scholarship was available to students in the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades, was competitive and was not based on income. The second option consisted of my enrolling into a program called Workforce Investment Act (WIA). The WIA dual enrollment program was for 12th grade students and was based on income. In this program, I would choose a technical career and my classes toward that career and any other expenses, would be covered. The WIA funding was the best option for me. I was approved for the funding which allowed me to pay for my dual enrollment math classes, a math book, and take my first Engineering Technology course on the NACC campus. Twice each week I did something not many students can say they have done: I would take dual enrollment classes in the morning, go to the Dekalb County Technical Center for masonry afterwards, and then after school I would take a class on the NACC campus. My experiences not only confirmed my major but also built my confidence that I would be successful in college.
“While taking dual enrollment classes, the faculty and staff became my support system and were like an ‘extended family.’ They were always willing to discuss my options and assist me in making important decisions about my future. Initially, I was drawn to a four-year university because I wanted to leave home and was enticed with a partial tuition scholarship. I, however, came to realize the value of people I knew and trusted at NACC. I realized that the education I desired could be better obtained at my local community college. New engineering opportunities were also being offered at NACC through UAH which directly lined up with my educational goals. Also, after comparing prices, I realized that NACC would be the more affordable option for my family. Due to receiving the Ray E. Ashley Flying Fortress Scholarship from the NACC Foundation, I would be able to obtain my Associate’s Degree debt free. Remaining local allowed me the opportunity to continue running a small masonry business to pay for additional costs. Due to my dual enrollment coursework, I would be able to graduate a year early at NACC which would enable me to complete my Bachelor’s Degree in three years. Thanks to dual enrollment, I have been given the opportunity to complete an Associate’s Degree in mechanical engineering at NACC with a 4.0 GPA in roughly fifteen months with no debt,” he concluded.
More than 2000 students, faculty and staff from the system’s 25 member two-year colleges, Marion Institute, and the Alabama Technology Network attended the 2016 ACCS Day. The event is held each year in recognition of April as National Community College Month and to communicate the importance of the state’s two-year colleges to Alabama’s workforce and economic development efforts. ACCS Chancellor, Dr. Mark Heinrich, provided comments addressing the critical role that Alabama’s community colleges play in the state’s workforce and economic development initiative and in attracting new business to the state.
For more information about the Alabama Community College System, go to www.accs.cc.
For additional information about NACC go to www.nacc.edu or download the college’s free App from the App Store or by going to www.naccmobile.com. For more information about dual enrollment at NACC, contact Dean Sherie Grace at firstname.lastname@example.org or Mrs. Staci Miller at email@example.com.