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Dr. Scott Ralls Addresses PCC Employees

N.C. Community Colleges President Is Keynote Speaker During Convocation

WINTERVILLE—Pitt Community College held convocation Aug. 15 with Dr. Scott Ralls, president of the N.C. Community College System, serving as the event’s keynote speaker.

Ralls, who became NCCCS president in May 2008, centered his remarks on the need for community colleges to continue helping students achieve their dreams in spite of what he referred to as a “perfect storm” – divergent skill distributions, demographic shifts and a changing economy.

According to Ralls, there is no group more important to helping America solve its economic woes than community colleges. “We are the cavalry,” he said. “… We are the people we’ve been waiting for.”

Due to an increasing number of international competitors in the global marketplace, Ralls stated that education is critical to America’s economic success. “…There is no room for people to not be educated,” he said, adding that it is increasingly important for people to graduate from college rather than simply finishing high school.

Ralls noted that community colleges have received more national attention in the past two years than ever before. “It’s not about what we teach; it’s who we teach,” he explained. ”That is why we are so important.”

Community colleges, Ralls said, serve many lower-income students and those who are nontraditional, meaning they did not enter college immediately after high school graduation and likely have obligations and responsibilities that make it more difficult for them to seek higher education.

“… The more nontraditional the student,” Ralls said, “the more likely they are to go to a community college.”

Quoting Winston Churchill, Ralls concluded his presentation by encouraging PCC employees to do what they can, with what they have, where they are.

“That is all each of us can do,” he said. “People will call us ‘naïve’ when we try to change lives … but the most important people to address the [country’s] challenges are all staring me in the face right now.”