Wallace Community College-Selma: A Hidden Jewel of the Black Belt

Published 7:22 pm Wednesday, May 11, 2016

By Terri Sewell
Sewell is the representative for Alabama’s seventh congressional district.

As the daughter of two educators, I know the importance and benefit of getting a world class education, and I get to live it every day in my own life. We have a hidden jewel in Selma with Wallace Community College, a stellar institution that provides incredible educational opportunities to students across the Black Belt.

Now more than ever America needs greater innovation in our educational system to meet the needs of tomorrow. Outstanding four year institutions in the state of Alabama are producing some of our state’s and nation’s best and brightest who will lead us into the next era of American cutting-edge technology and research, business leadership and entrepreneurship, and science and innovation. Increasingly, community colleges are becoming an integral player in improving the innovation landscape and bridging the skills gap that exists in today’s workforce. Wallace Community College Selma is leading that charge through its dual-enrollment program with four year institutions like Tuskegee University.

Through these efforts, 22 Dallas County area school students are realizing their goal of attaining a high school diploma and an associate’s in science degree at this year’s commencement. While experiencing its share of bumps in the road, the dual-enrollment program is accomplishing what it set out to do — give Dallas County school students a head start on college. Although unique, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) program, a partnership with WCCS to increase the participation of underrepresented minority students from Alabama’s Black Belt counties entering the fields of science and research, is not the first partnership with Tuskegee University. In 2008, WCCS graduated 31 students from the Selma Early College High School (ECHS), which was the first of its kind on a college campus in the state of Alabama. ECHS is a partnership between Wallace Community College Selma, Tuskegee University, Alabama State University, SECME, and the Dallas County School System designed to help average students with demonstrated academic potential succeed in high school and transition to college.

As the Member of Congress for the seventh Congressional District, I am working to offer solutions that will help lay the foundation for creating good-paying jobs, and for our education system to thrive into the future.  Efforts like these at Wallace Community College Selma exemplify the invaluable role our two-year institutions serve in our communities toward this goal. The university’s leadership in creating a 21st century learning environment is to be greatly commended. What a jewel to have serving our students in the Black Belt.