Texarkana College Student Success Coach Phillip Parrish knows the importance of meeting students where they are in life to help them overcome barriers to a better and more fulfilling future. Today at TC’s Board of Trustees meeting, board members heard from Parrish about the significant impact TC’s Workforce Success Center is having on students.
“At Texarkana College, students take our mantra, ‘TC is a great place to start or start over,’ literally,” Parrish said. “Many students come to TC looking for a fresh start and a career pathway that leads them to a brighter future. The goal of TC’s Workforce Success Center is to align students with resources to help them overcome barriers that are preventing them from persisting through their course of study.”
Parrish said the Workforce Success Center is a one-stop shop for TC students enrolled in workforce training programs. The center provides a continuum of support from the first day they enroll in classes, through their journey as a student, and all the way to job placement.
“Through the Workforce Success Center, I serve as a resource manager by aligning students with mentors, tutors, or service providers who can assist with study skills, test anxiety, transportation, childcare, housing, or even medical assistance to help them stay in class and complete their degree or certificate,” said Parrish. “The goal is to support students until they are successful, and that means meeting with students face-to-face and listening to their concerns. On average, we meet with students 3.5 times throughout the year to keep a pulse on their progress and attendance. Through these one-on-one meetings, we learn a lot about what is keeping them from succeeding, and sometimes it can be that they don’t have enough money for food for their next meal. We can help through our on-campus food pantry.”
Parrish said students who enroll in technical training programs at TC and who do not meet college readiness scores on college entrance exams such as the TSI or TABE test are able to start their job skills training in their chosen field while taking a refresher course to help them gain competency in reading and math skills.
“The great part about starting anew at TC is that in just a short time, as little as 12 months, a student can earn a college credential in a skill that provides them a pathway to employment and financial independence while gaining proficiency in basic academic skills and interpersonal relations,” said Parrish. “In a student’s second semester, a course called LEAD is mandatory for all students. Through the course, we work with students to build confidence in critical thinking skills, leadership roles, interviewing and professional appearance. We also help them prepare their resume and seek employment. If needed, we even help them obtain an outfit or appropriate clothing for a job interview.”
Parrish said the LEAD course focuses on the seven A’s as a framework for developing student competency in soft skills employers are seeking in workers: attitude, appearance, attendance, accountability, acceptance, ambition, and appreciation.
“I interviewed managers from top employers in our community and ask them what the main reasons were for terminating employees,” said Parrish. “Their answers were consistent: poor attendance and lack of ambition. We address these issues head-on through our LEAD course and students are benefiting from the results. Our goal is to strengthen their employment tenure by helping students identify their strengths and weaknesses through personality and leadership assessment tools, develop a personal vision statement, and learn how to handle workplace dynamics. At the end of the course, they are asked to do a field study and interview a professional in their desired field of work to get feedback on what is expected of a successful employee. The program is working, and our students are completing their goals.”
According to Parrish, in 2019, the Workforce Success Center served 347 students and saw a 91% completion rate. Thirty-three students received assistance with either transportation, childcare, housing, or medical issues. Since 2016, more than 753 individuals have received assistance for food insecurities from the TC Foodbank and Care Closet.
“At TC we are in the business of student success,” said Parrish. “Through the Success Center, students get a chance to not only earn a college credential that provides the skills and training for employment, but they also get the chance to reflect on what makes them special and who they want to be as an employee. We are helping remove the barriers that keep students from achieving their dreams, and we are helping build a skilled and effective workforce for our community. It feels good to help people win!”
More information about workforce training programs at TC can be found at https://www.texarkanacollege.edu/workforce-education/.