Jeff Long, Vice President for Poplarville Campus and Student Services, and Dr. Jennifer Seal, Vice President for Planning and Institutional Research, represented Pearl River Community College among 29 Mississippi community college administrators who recently completed the Community College Policy Fellows Program (CPFP). The program culminated in the Washington, D.C. Legislative Summit where they advocated on behalf of community college students.
The Community College Policy Fellows Program is a 20-month professional development initiative sponsored by the Mississippi Community College Board and directed by AdvocacyBuild, LLC. The curriculum focuses on four national program pillars: policy, leadership, networking, and advocacy.
“Pearl River Community College utilizes all available platforms to better serve our students,” PRCC President Dr. Adam Breerwood said. “We were honored for two of our vice presidents to represent the College and our students at the national level.”
The 2022 CPFP cohort focused on two policy issues: (1) short-term Pell eligibility for short-term training programs and (2) broadband expansion throughout the State. Currently, to qualify for Pell Grants, a program must be 600 clock hours. Eligibility for shorter-term programs should be established, with safeguards to ensure that only high-quality programs receive support. Community colleges serve all Mississippi students, including those in areas without adequate broadband capacity. Supporting these initiatives will eliminate access barriers for students and enhance equal access to higher education.
While in Washington, D.C., April 3-6, the Fellows met with members of the Mississippi congressional delegations including Senators Cindy Hyde-Smith and Roger Wicker, and U.S. House members Michael Guest, Trent Kelly, and Steven Palazzo. The CPFP members also met with the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, the U.S. Department of Education staff, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Office. Prior to meeting with the delegates, the Fellows were briefed on policy issues by the Association of Community College Trustees, the American Association of Community Colleges, and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
“The CPFP is an outstanding program that helped educate me on issues such as federal and state legislation, and how the advocacy process works between our system and law-making,” Long said. “I am grateful to all those involved in providing such a program, including Pearl River Community College and their support, plus Dr. Ed Davis and Tyson Elbert for their hard work making the program successful for its fellows.”
Added Dr. Seal: “At Pearl River Community College, we advocate for students on a daily basis in a wide variety of areas. Working with the Community College Policy Fellows Program, afforded us the opportunity to champion the efforts of all Mississippi community colleges on a national platform while strengthening relationships with elected officials and their colleagues.”