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College and Career Readiness program expanding opportunities for students


Alixandra Brusini, a 2017 graduate from Tri-County Community College’s high school equivalency program, receives her diploma from President Dr. Donna Tipton-Rogers at a graduation ceremony last May. Brusini is now enrolled in the college’s esthetics program.

With the start of a new year and semester, the staff in Tri-County Community College’s College and Career Readiness program are revamping key areas and kicking off a slate of initiatives to provide more opportunities for current and prospective students.

“The goal of our program is to assist individuals from all walks of life – such as parents, dislocated workers, immigrants, or young adults – in obtaining the skills and knowledge they require for employment and self-sufficiency,” said Dotie Stafford-Ortega, the new director of adult basic education for Tri-County Community College.

According to Angela Jaco, coordinator of the College and Career Readiness program, students interested in gaining their high school equivalency diploma can take fee-waived GED® classes during both the day and evening at the main campus in Peachtree, as well as during the day at the Graham County Center in Robbinsville.

There are also resources available to assist youth and dislocated workers with completing their diploma through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and the Western Economic Development Organization, Stafford-Ortega said.

“We are continuously working to provide an education that is both accessible and enriching for our students,” Stafford-Ortega said. “Our highly-experienced teaching staff strive to foster an environment where student success can thrive.”

Last November the College and Career Readiness program kicked off a Race for Literacy initiative, which has a goal of raising $5,000 to help students with fees associated with obtaining their high school equivalency diploma.

Several more community events are planned throughout the remainder of 2018, culminating with a 5K walk/run in the fall.

“Our community night at Rib Country in Murphy was a great success,” Stafford-Ortega said. “To date, we have already raised $700 toward our goal.”

Another part of the College and Career Readiness program Stafford-Ortega worked to revitalize is the English language learners (ELL) classes, designed to improve an individual’s reading, writing, and speaking skills.

“These classes help students develop their comprehension skills, through the assistance of a bilingual instructor,” Stafford-Ortega said. “We hold class Mondays and Tuesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the main campus, and in Andrews on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.”

The College and Career Readiness program accepts walk-ins for individuals looking to earn their high school equivalency diploma. The program also offers a two-day orientation twice a month to help students become acquainted with the program and staff. The next orientation session will be held Jan. 22 and 23 at the main campus.

High school equivalency classes are held Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., as well as Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the main campus. Classes at the Graham County Center are held Tuesday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Anyone interested in enrolling in the high school equivalency program or taking ELL classes should contact Stafford-Ortega at 835-4208 or Jaco at 835-4256.