Dual enrollment grows 800% at Motlow

Dual enrollment has increased at Motlow State by 800 percent. (File Photo)

EDUCATION | Motlow College’s Dual Enrollment already outpaces every other community college in the state. This week, the Moore County-based school announced that the number of students who graduated from Motlow the same semester as they graduated high school grew a phenomenal 800 percent. Dual enrollment partnerships allow high school students to take college courses in their junior and senior year to get a jumpstart on their college education.

After eight students accomplished dual graduations in 2019, Pack, working with partners from area high schools and industry, focused on increasing that dual graduation rate. In May 2020, 65 students graduated from Motlow and their high school, an increase of 800%. Leading the way in this growth was LaVergne High School, where 42 students graduated with associate degrees in General Studies.

“Motlow continues to create partnerships with high schools in our service area so any student that wants to take college courses while in high school has the opportunity to do that,” said Dual Enrollment Director Sally Pack. “We appreciate the professionals in these high schools and in industry who help support and promote dual enrollment to their students. The growth that we are experiencing is exciting.”

Pack recently worked with partners from area high schools and local industry to increase that dual graduation rate.

“We are so pleased that our dual enrollment efforts are providing these wonderful opportunities for students,” said Melody Edmonds, assistant vice president of Academic Affairs. “The team is dedicated to student success, and the students are supported throughout their dual enrollment experience.  We look forward to further expanding dual enrollment avenues in the future.”

One significant driver of the dramatic increase is Motlow’s Dual Enrollment Mechatronics program. Designed for high school juniors, the program allows students to obtain a degree in Mechatronics at no cost while completing their final two years of high school. In May 2020, 11 high school seniors became the first graduates from the Middle College Mechatronics program, funded by a grant awarded to Motlow in 2018.

A second factor in the rising rates of Motlow DE is the early scholarship opportunities it offers. Student who sign up for DE classes are often eligible for several tuition-free courses. DE students are more likely to enroll in college after high school graduation as opposed to taking a ‘gap’ year, or a year off. Studies show that taking a gap year can cost students over $90,000 of their lifetime earning potential.

The 11 Middle College Mechatronics graduates included students from Oakland, Franklin County, and Warren County high schools. Additional high schools with 2020 dual enrollment graduates were Tullahoma, DeKalb County, Cannon County, and F.C. Boyd Christian School in McMinnville.

For more information, visit Motlow State’s website. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Motlow Completion Coach Angélica Dotson uses personal experience to encourage students

Angelica Dotson uses her experiences as a Hispanic student in southern, middle Tennessee to encourage other Motlow College students. (Photo Provided)

EDUCATION | Motlow State Completion Coach Angélica Dotson knows what it is like to be treated as an outsider … to feel like you don’t fit in. She draws from and shares her experiences as a second-generation American to improve student success at Motlow. In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, she spoke about her experiences and how they help her encourage Motlow students to overcome adversity.

“I grew up in a bicultural home,” said Dotson, who works at Motlow’s Smyrna campus and has been with the college since 2013. “At times, I felt like Americans did not quite accept me because I was too Mexican, and Hispanics did not quite accept me because I was too American. I always felt as if I had to prove myself, and I do my best to use my experiences to help encourage students. You can be brown and be successful.”

Motlow’s Latino student population has almost tripled since 2015. The National Center for Education Statistics says Latino students are one of only two demographic groups that have shown an increase in college attendance in recent years. Motlow is ahead of the national growth and well-positioned to expand its minority student enrollment.

“There was a time when I dropped out of college,” continued Dotson. “I felt that I could not be my true self and be successful in passing college courses or landing a job. Dropping out was a poor decision, but it did lead me to some positive revelations.

“It was around that time that I finally realized that I could not deny being brown, Latino, a minority. Once I accepted that, it unlocked a powerful force inside of me,” she added. “I rediscovered myself and my culture. I found my voice and embraced it. Everything turned around for me as I returned to college and graduated.”

Dotson’s father is from Celaya, Guanajuato, México, and was adopted by an American family when he was three years old. Her mother is from Zacatecas, México, and grew up near the United States’ southern border and immigrated to America for survival and opportunities.

 “I find that my past experiences help encourage students, whether they are a person of color, a non-traditional student, or a traditional student coming to Motlow from high school. I understand that sometimes people expect minorities to fail, and we must work harder than others to succeed. I do my best to encourage all students who are struggling, but I especially try to remind the LatinX community that they can overcome adversity.”

“The number of Hispanic students enrolled in college rose from 3.17 million in 2016 to 3.27 million in 2017, making them only one of two demographic groups that saw an increase in college attendance, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That’s more than double the 1.4 million Latino students who attended college in 2000,” according to USA Today.

The study showed about 70 percent of Latino undergraduates in higher education come from families in the bottom half of earners, according to data analyzed by the college lobbying group, the American Council on Education. That is comparable to the black population, where nearly 75 percent of students come from the bottom half of earners.

Nearly half of Latino students are the first in their family to go to college, and just under half were eligible for federal Pell Grants, money only given to those with a high financial need. Only 22 percent of Hispanics over the age of 25 have an associate degree or higher compared to 40 percent of the general population.

Motlow actively invests in inclusion training and accessibility planning. These efforts foster a diverse student body and promote cultural literacy among all graduates. Motlow’s goal is to provide the learning opportunities and support programs needed to encourage all residents to pursue a college degree or short-term certificate that leads to high-demand jobs. Dotson’s story is evidence of the importance of academic success. There is no better time to pursue higher education. Motlow offers Reconnect Scholarships for adults without degrees, tutoring, ESL programs, learning support courses, one-on-one advising, and personal college completion coaches. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Motlow’s Oscar Meza-Abarca cherishes Hispanic heritage as first-generation student

Oscar Meza-Abarca is part of a growing number of Hispanic students attending Motlow College. Since 2015, Motlow State’s Hispanic student population has almost tripled. (Photo courtesy of Motlow)

EDUCATION | Hispanic enrollment is growing nationally and Motlow State is no exception. It’s Hispanic numbers have almost triples in the past five years. In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, the college recently shared with us the story of one of it’s first generation students.

Oscar Meza-Abarca is part of a growing number of Hispanic students attending college. Since 2015, Motlow State’s Hispanic student population has almost tripled, and nationally the number of Hispanic students has more than doubled since 2000.

Oscar moved to Lincoln County from Huntsville with his family after his freshman year in high school. After graduating from Lincoln County High School in 2019, he became the first member of his family to attend college when he enrolled at Motlow’s Fayetteville campus in Fall 2019.

Now Oscar is a Dean’s List student on a path to graduate Motlow with an associate degree in mathematics in May 2021. He plans to transfer to MTSU and earn a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education in Mathematics and become a teacher. He believes his Hispanic heritage has played a significant role in his success.

“When I was growing up, I had to speak Spanish at home and English at school,” said Oscar. “My parents, who migrated to the United States in 1998, can understand a little bit of English, but they can’t speak it. I have been their translator most of my life, and that role has helped me to become a people person and a better communicator.”

As a first-generation college student, Oscar dealt with educational adversity because his parents didn’t know much about college. They couldn’t answer his questions about college. “Part of my motivation for completing my education is to be able to help my younger brother complete his,” Oscar adds.

He was born in Utah and moved with his family to the Huntsville-Madison area in 2004. His parents immigrated to the United States in 1998. Oscar recently started working as an Educational Assistant at a local elementary school, a significant step for him into the education profession. He assists with students from Pre-K to 4th grade.

“Being Hispanic is something I cherish,” Oscar continued. “The Hispanic community where I live is tiny and everyone knows each other. My time as a translator and my ability to communicate through multiple languages enable me to contribute to Hispanic and non-Hispanic communities.

“I always encourage people to go to Motlow for the first two years of college. My experience is that Motlow faculty and staff care about the future of their students and will show you the correct steps to help you achieve your education goals.” •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Motlow highlights 50 years of achievements in recent annual report

Motlow College celebrates 50 years with an Annual Report highlighting their achievements. The college opened its doors on September 22, 1969. {Historic Image Provided}

LOCAL NEWS | It all began in over 50 years ago after almost five years of planning. On September 22, 1969 Motlow State Community College officially opened its doors to 551 students on a 187 acre campus in Moore County donated by the Motlow family.

To celebrate 50 years, Motlow State recently released their 2019-2020 Annual Report, which highlights the school exponential growth. Click here to view that report.

The report is a colorful, vibrant 50-page publication providing critical statistical information, features, and photos from the College’s 50th Anniversary, academic milestones, and critical operational achievements that lean Motlow into the future and the next 50 years.

“The Annual Report is a capsule of the 2019-20 academic year from a statistical standpoint,” said Motlow Communications Director Scott Shasteen. “However, with our talented graphics and content creators, we bring numerical data to life, transforming it into a pleasing visual experience and proudly displaying it for the public. I’m often asked in the community, how are things at Motlow? This report tells our story.”

Motlow achieved a school record for enrollment with 7,023 students in fall 2019. Included in that student population was 1,819 dual enrollment students, the most of any community college in the TBR system. Motlow awarded 1,182 degrees during the year, another new school record.

An additional highlight for the College is its incredible 800% growth in the number of dual enrollment students who graduated from Motlow and high school at the same time. Dual enrollment students made up over 25% of Motlow’s student population.

One of the items highlighted in the report is the recent announcement of the new distillery training education partnership with both Jack Daniel’s and Nearest Green’s distilleries. To read our full coverage of that partnership, click here.

The report also highlights Motlow’s awards and achievements by individuals and as collective units. McMinnville Librarian Sharon Edwards won the TBR Statewide Outstanding Achievement Recognition (SOAR) Award, and Motlow’s External Affairs department won multiple state, regional, and national awards for Ovation magazine, Robotics design and marketing, and graphic creation.

To learn more about Motlow State Community College, visit their website. •

Tims Ford hosts Motlow golf tournament on September 11

Bear Trace Golf Course is located on a picturesque peninsula inside Tims Ford State Park. Motlow College will hold their annual Foundation Golf Tournament there in September. {Photo Courtesy of Tims Ford State Park}

Motlow College officials want Moore County golfers to know that there is still time to register for this year’s Motlow Foundation Golf Tournament at Bear Trace on September 11. All proceeds benefit Motlow College Foundation scholarships for local students.

It’s a wonderful opportunity to both support a good cause and experience an outstanding local golf course. Designed by Jack Nicklaus and located inside Tims Ford State Park, the course features Champion Bermuda greens and 419 Bermuda fairways. The links were built to mimic the gently rolling pasture land that surrounds it. Golfers will also enjoy a view of Tims Ford Lake during their 18 hole adventure.

Golfers can enter several specialty contests like a hole-in-one and closest-to-pin contest in addition to the 18 holes. Tournament officials and Bear Trace employees will take every precaution to ensure golfers safety to reduce the COVID-19 threat.

The tournament is a four-person scramble with prizes for three places in two flights. The cost is $115 per person or $450 per team. Each player registration includes green fees, cart rental, mulligans, lunch, snacks, drinks, and a goody bag.  Lunch will be served at 11 a.m., and tee time is noon. In the event of inclement weather, the rain date is September 18.

Please contact the Motlow College Foundation office at 931-393-1543 or MotlowFoundation@mscc.edu to register for the tournament, purchase a hole sponsorship, or donate a door prize. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Moore County … covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, the Lynchburg Music Fest, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Motlow hosts Enrollment Day

Motlow State will host a Fall 2020 FASTPASS Enrollment Day on each of its campuses this week. The events are designed for prospective and current students to complete their requirements for the upcoming fall semester, which begins Aug. 24.

It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s appropriately socially distanced and it’s a first step towards a brighter future. Motlow College reminds would-be students that enrollment events will take place next week on all four campuses including Moore County.

The Fall FASTPASS event will take place on the Moore County campus on Thursday, August 13. Events will also take place on the Fayettevile campus on Monday, McMinnville campus on Wednesday, and Smyrna campus on Monday, August 17.

Motlow staff will be strategically positioned at campus entrances to filter visitors based on need. Staff will assist in directing students to the proper location inside each campus facility to complete requirements for the upcoming semester including admissions applications, class registration, and dual enrollment forms.

Students who have financial aid holds should come prepared to clear those holds so processing can be achieved. Dual Enrollment students and others will have the opportunity to drop off any needed paperwork.

“We are excited to offer this opportunity for students on our campuses,” said Lisa Sanders, assistant academic dean in Fayetteville. “Although all our services are available online, we know some students need a person-to-person approach to complete their requirements for fall comfortably. We are happy to provide this personal approach.”

Students are required to complete a Self-Assessment Health Screening before coming to campus. Visitors are requested to follow all CDC and TN Department of Health guidelines, as well as Motlow’s Return to Campus Plan. You can view that plan by clicking here.

For more information, visit the FASTPASS Enrollment Day web page at this link. •

Motlow encourages graduates to stay on track during the pandemic

Officials at Motlow State encourage would be college freshmen to move forward with their fall college plans. {File Photo}

As we enter the month of August, there are so many unknowns. For recent high school graduates, one of those is the uncertainty of the on-campus experience at college campuses across the country. In fact many would-be freshman may be considering sitting out this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But they could lose $90,000 in lifetime earnings, according to Motlow State Community College.

That opinion’s based on a new analysis from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York that stated that taking a gap year reduces the return to college by a quarter and can cost tens of thousands of dollars in lost lifetime earnings.

CBS News, referencing the same report, says, “About half of the long-term earnings losses come from forgoing the $43,000 salary that new graduates typically earn in their first year of work after graduation.”

Wage increases are steeper at the beginning of young professionals’ careers — the graduate who earns their degree at age 22 can, by the time they are 25, expect to earn an average of $52,000, according to the analysis by economists Jaison R. Abel and Richard Deitz. 

“Being a year behind, these differences add up each year, so that those graduating later never catch up to those who graduated earlier. Together, these costs add up to more than $90,000 over one’s working life, which erodes the value of a college degree,” Abel and Deitz write. 

As such, Motlow State encourage the class of 2024 to enroll and reminds them that there is still time to do so. Classes begin Aug. 24, and there is still time for prospective students to apply. Returning students should register for fall 2020 classes as soon as possible. Motlow will hold an on-campus Enrollment Day on Monday, August 10 in Fayetteville. You can also enroll online at this link. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

State Report: Tennessee Promise works but needs improvement

Two years ago, Tennessee set an ambitious goal. Through the Drive to 55 Alliance, Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect set a mission to get 55 percent of Tennessean equipped with a college degree of certification by the year 2025.

Many Moore County High School students use the Tennessee Promise program to attend Motlow State and area technical schools. {Photo Provided}

A recent Tennessee Comptroller report shows that Tennessee Promise works but needs improvement if Tennessee’s going to reach that goal.

The Tennessee General Assembly created Tennessee Promise in 2014 in order to encourage more high school graduates to earn an associates degree or technical diploma. Tennessee Promise scholarships offer two years of tuition-free attendance at area community colleges or technical schools including Motlow College in Moore County.

It’s sister program, Tennessee Reconnect, helps more adult learners attend community college and technical schools to earn a certification or postsecondary degree tuition-free.

TN Promise led to more college-going citizens

According to the report, more high graduates attend college as a result of Tennessee Promise. Tennessee’s college-going rate increased from 58.4 percent to 64.3 percent in the first year of the program. It also states that those students are accumulating more college credits, staying enrolled longer, and earning postsecondary credential at a higher rate than other high school graduates.

The report recommends increasing Tennessee Promise participation rates among students from certain subgroups and areas of the state who do not historically attend college including applicants with low ACT scores, minority applicants, and those from lower income households.

It also states that the program requirements most often missed by Tennessee Promise applicants were mandatory meetings and the community service requirement.

They identified several barriers to success such as the full-time enrollment requirement in the summer term and costs not covered by the
Promise program. Adjustments to those elements of the program, among
others, would likely allow more students to remain Promise-eligible and
enrolled in college, the report says.

It also states that first-seminars that teach the skills necessary for college success and hiring completion coaches are best practices that have been helpful at some community colleges.

The report offers solution for the General Assembly, mentor organizations, colleges, and technical schools. To read the full report, click here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Motlow adds video and chat to financial aid office info options

Motlow’s new chatbot offers students 24/7 financial aid answers for the fall semester and beyond. They also added a new video portal. {File Photo}

MOORE COUNTY — Would be Motlow students can now get financial aid questions answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year with the college’s new GetAnswers video portal and AI chatbot services. The two news way to contact Motlow are in response to the overwhelming interest in students seeking to attend fall classes, they said in a press release.

“The GetAnswers Video portal hosts short informational videos on a wide range of financial aid topics ranging from the financial aid process to personal finance,” said Motlow Executive Director of Financial Aid Joe Myers. “The videos have an option for Spanish in the closed caption and the transcript. Viewers may select one of the suggested playlists or search for specific topics to begin watching.

“The Artificial Intelligent Chatbot is an engaging tool to have financial aid questions answered anytime. The Chatbot has an extensive knowledge base that is always growing. Still, in the event it cannot provide an answer to a financial aid related topic, it can facilitate the connection with one of our financial aid counselors for additional individualized assistance.”

The priority deadline for financial aid passed on July 15. Students who submitted all paperwork by then have the best chance of being processed when fall classes start in late August. Students who provide financial aid information after July 15 may not have complete financial aid when classes begin and may have to pay their tuition and fees before their processing of financial assistance is finalized.

Fall classes will begin at Motlow on August 24 with a blend of online and on-campus classes scheduled. The College has created a health-assessment form that all students, employees, and visitors will be required to complete daily before arriving on campus. All students, employees, and visitors to any Motlow campus are required to submit the health assessment before coming on campus. Mask wearing and social distancing guidelines will be enforced.

To learn more about the new financial aid options click here. To learn more about the new social distancing and health guidelines click here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Motlow medical lab tech program earns accreditation

Motlow officials say Dr. Kim-Sue Tudor has been instrumental in developing their new Medical Lab Technology Program. It recently earned national accreditation. {Photo Provided}

MOORE COUNTY — Interested in a high-wage, high-demand medical or health-related career? Good news … you can attend a nationally accredited program right here in Moore County.

The Motlow State Medical Laboratory Technology (MLT) program cleared a significant hurdle in April when it earned full accreditation with the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). 

“We encourage anyone who has an interest in a medical or health-related career to explore the Medical Laboratory Technology program,” said MLT Program Director Dr. Kim-Sue Tudor. “Motlow’s MLAB 1301 pre-requisite course is an excellent way for students to find out more about this exciting and fulfilling career opportunity.”

Dr. Tutor spearheaded the development of the high-wage, high-demand program, which officially began in the fall 2018 semester with the seven graduates.  Every member of the class earned national certification through either the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) or American Medical Technologists (AMT).  Both certifications are recognized by the Tennessee State Medical Laboratory Board for applicants seeking an MLT license. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Employment Statistics website, the forecasted growth nationally in MLT employment over the next ten years is almost 14 percent.

Many employers require certification because they know that certified allied health professionals are committed to their profession and patient care. Certified individuals also tend to enjoy higher wages and more significant promotional opportunities.

For more information on the MLT program at Motlow, click here or go to or contact Dr. Kim-Sue Tudor at ktudor@mscc.edu, or 615-220-7912. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}