By Skylar Fondren
Northeast Texas Community College is now a recipient of a multi-million dollar grant, which will fund new resources on campus for mental health and more. This grant of $3 million is awarded to colleges that are named as hispanic serving institutions, which means that more than 30% of the student population is of Hispanic descent.
The title V grant, according to Executive Vice President for Advancement Dr. Jon McCullough, will be awarded over the course of five years, and will finance new staff. Some of those positions include two full-time success coaches, two high school transition coaches, a full time mental health counselor, and a grant writer for the Work4College program.
“[The grant] provides financial resources for us to be able to hire employees to do things above and beyond what a college is normally able to do,” said McCullough.
Student success coaches are able to give students assistance throughout their time at NTCC, and with the Title V grant, there will be two more full time coaches joining the team.
The current option for students dealing with mental health issues is limited only to virtual therapy, which is free for students to use. However, McCullough expressed that the number of students who use this resource is much lower than they had anticipated.
This is where the new on-site mental health counselor will come in. The application for the position will be opening soon, and depending on the number of applicants, they may be hired by January or a little later. This person would have an office on campus and will be available for anything related to mental health. McCullough emphasized that the virtual therapy option would not go away with the hiring of the in-person therapist, but it might look different from what is available now. For students living in the dorms, there is the possibility for the counselor to be available after regular school hours for crises. They will not be able to formally diagnose any students, but can give them a referral to a psychiatrist if necessary.
“It’s more for crisis intervention. There are many students who may need more, and this person will serve as a resource for them,” said McCullough.
For high school students who need guidance on their future, two more high school transition coaches will be hired to work in the local high schools and assist students with the transition to college. Though they will be paid by NTCC, they will not be pushing students to attend NTCC, simply giving them assistance with the college process as a whole.
In regards to the transition coaches, McCullough said he is excited for the impact on the community.
“It’s really going to benefit the community significantly,” McCullough said. “If there’s a young man who’s wanting to get an engineering degree at Abilene Christian, they can help him go through the process, filling out financial aid and everything. We’re helping the whole community, with an emphasis on NTCC benefiting from it too.”
Not only will this money go towards hiring new employees, it will also go towards a new student center, which will allow for students to have an outdoor central gathering space. The location for the space is still undetermined but there is a committee being put together that will finalize these plans. McCullough also mentioned that there would be at least one student representative on the committee, to give the students some voice when decisions are being made. The center will
“Somewhere on the college grounds will be some sort of outdoor covered area that is user friendly. [The space will be] a place that really attracts people, because we believe that if you can get people to want to stay somewhere and be more involved then they’re going to be more successful,” McCullough said.
Following the continued success of the Work4College and Summer Success programs, both of these functions will be getting more financial support through the grant. Work4College will receive a resource development grant writer, as well as funds for more personnel. The summer success program will now be able to completely cover meal plan costs. Before, students living in the dorms over the summer had to pay for breakfast and dinner.
Another improvement for students and faculty is the modification of the advisors area in the student services building. The current desks restricted the advisors from easily showing students their computer monitor, so they will be receiving new desks to better fit their needs. The old desks will be moved to resident housing to be used as study pods for the dorm students.
McCullough expressed that this grant will not only benefit the college and its students, but the surrounding community as well.
“Grants like these provide an economic impact to your community,” McCollough said. “Every person that we are able to hire with this grant brings money to this community.”