Inaugural Community Relations Ambassador Luncheon celebrates achievements, kicks off Career in a Year
Faculty and staff were celebrated as Southwest’s storytellers at the inaugural Community Relations Ambassadors Luncheon March 28 at the Bert Bornblum Library. Over a year ago, many of the faculty and staff present at the luncheon were charged with spreading the good news across Shelby and Fayette Counties about Tennessee Reconnect. This year, the newly named “Community Relations Ambassadors” will focus on the Tennessee Board of Regents Career in a Year, a statewide marketing campaign that recently launched to shine the light on job readiness programs that students can complete in a year or less.
“Ambassador-in-Chief” President Tracy D. Hall said there is no better way to market Southwest than through the news and stories told by faculty and staff. “When we talk about marketing and communications, we think of billboards, advertising and newspapers,” said Dr. Hall. “I’ve always felt that our faculty, staff, and students are our greatest community relations people – you all are able to convey your personal experience with the College through word of mouth which is critical. No billboard can tell the story like you can.”
The most active ambassador in 2018 was recognized with the newly established Ambassador of the Year award. Millington Center and Somerville Site Director Ron Wells was selected for his enthusiastic outreach – at least 13 recorded engagements – that won the admiration of all. “This is a great surprise for me and I am touched,” said Wells. “My wife and I were the first in our families to get a college degree, in fact, Teresa is a graduate of Southwest. We know how a college education can change the trajectory of peoples’ lives and we are proud to be a part of it.” Wells and his wife campaigned together talking to individuals, delivering presentations, and dropping off literature at many places around the city. “He was a mainstay in the communications department always in need of more materials to distribute in the community,” Communications, Marketing and Community Relations Executive Director Daphne Thomas said.
Thomas also provided a recap of the tremendous impact of last year’s ambassadors. “Out of 67 employees who signed up as Tennessee Reconnect Ambassadors, 26 delivered 30 presentations to groups, churches, government entities, non-profits, social service agencies and public libraries,” she said. “We were number one in the state for applications, so much so that the slogan ‘Are You Ready to Reconnect’ became synonymous with Southwest!” The department reported outreach to over 2,500 audience members. President Hall addressed the largest group—about 1,000 people at First Baptist Broad on a Sunday morning.
Thomas said she expects the outreach will grow even more this year with the new emphasis on Career in a Year. “We have a new, powerful message that I hope will resonate with audiences across the city and county,” Thomas said. “A transformed life with a year or less of training is a powerful message.”
Faculty were on-hand to provide ambassadors with insight into some of the College’s Career in a Year programs. Dean of Humanities Dr. LaDonna Young highlighted the Substance Abuse Counseling Certificate that is gaining momentum among incarcerated and ex-offender populations who have experienced substance abuse, and the Early Childhood Education Certificate. “These certificates qualify students to meet the challenges the nation is facing with the opioid crisis and the impact adverse childhood experiences like poverty are having on brain development,” Young said.
Technologies Instructor Gary Giordano provided news on the new certificates in Advanced Integrated Industrial Technology (also known as AIIT), and the machining programs where students can take advantage of emerging trends in automation. “The jobs are out there and employers are looking for qualified workers,” Giordano said. “Memphis is the second largest market in the nation for orthopedics implants. Students can easily start out with good paying jobs with the right industry credentials.”
Dean of Allied Health and Natural Sciences Evan McHugh highlighted three Career in a Year certificates in allied health, two of which can be completed in as few as one or two semesters—Emergency Medical Services Basic and Advanced, Phlebotomy, and Pharmacy Technician. “Students sometimes think of medical careers in terms of becoming a doctor or nurse,” Dr. McHugh said. “They don’t realize the potential of entering the allied health profession and how these certificates can transfer into EMT and nursing degrees.”
Executive Directors for Enrollment Management Shanita Brown and Student Success and Retention Executive Director Jacqueline Taylor also provided ambassadors overviews of the financial impact of Tennessee Reconnect and the strong support system the College provides students to help them reach their academic goals. Marketing and Communications Director Robert Jackson reviewed the marketing toolkit the ambassadors received in their specially designed tote bag, a thank you gift from the department.
The event wrapped up with Director of Public Relations and Media Diana Fedinec challenging the ambassadors in fun fashion to “get social” with their outreach. Fedinec introduced the College’s newest registered hashtag, #SWStoryteller, that was created especially them. “We want you to post and tweet about the connections and presentations and even literature drop-offs you are making in the community,” Fedinec said. “This will allow us to track and share your postings,” she told the crowd, “and help us extend our community relations efforts online.”
The Communications, Marketing and Community Relations department also announced a new email address, email@example.com, where ambassadors can send in their presentation data and photos and receive tips on public speaking, announcements and requests for appearances. “We will engage more deeply and more often with ambassadors this year to inspire them to get out and spread the word about Southwest,” Thomas said. “We also hope to receive more data on their activity through this new address so that next year we can show off their storytelling impact in a more visual way. We encourage all ambassadors to send in their data and photos so we can measure their impact and recognize their efforts.”
Want to be a community relations ambassador? Contact Klaudia Kroboth at 901-333-4024 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulations and thank you to the ambassadors who made presentations in 2018:
- Nikita Ashford-Ashworth
- Joanitha Barnes
- Anita Brackin
- Willie Burley
- Ronald Claxton
- Jacqueline Faulkner
- Dr. Tracy D. Hall
- Samuel Hennings
- Anne Mitchell Hinton
- Susanna Jackson
- Dr. Evan McHugh
- Katrina Muldrow
- Rachel Newman
- Shenay Nolan
- Alex Ortiz
- William Richardson
- William Ross
- Nigel Stephenson
- Dr. Jacqueline Taylor
- Daphne Thomas
- Rory Thomas
- Amanda Victory
- Dr. Malinda Wade
- Teresa Wells
- Ron Wells
- Alberta Williams
- Elizabeth Wilson