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Jeff Williamson

Happy New Year from all of us at North Hennepin Community College!

We enjoyed welcoming thousands of students, new and returning, to campus on Monday, Jan. 13, for the start of spring semester. As a student, I recall looking forward to a fresh start. Now as interim president, I’m excited to share great new initiatives launching in 2020 at NHCC.

Dr. “Eda” Rassheedah Watts joined North Hennepin Community College on Jan. 8 to serve in a new role as associate vice president of equity & inclusion. A San Francisco native, Watts brings nearly 20 years of professional experience to NHCC, including in the health and marketing fields, and most recently 11 years in higher education. Her passion for higher education stems from being a first-generation college student who fought against the statistical odds of growing up in an underserved community.

The barriers Watts overcame as a full-time working student created a deep-seated passion in her to help others achieve their higher education goals which served as the inspiration to work in education. Watts is also a certified diversity trainer, certified adult education program planner, and holds a number of professional certificates including Inclusive Teaching from Harvard University. Most recently, she served as a senior diversity officer and adjunct faculty member at Blackburn College in Illinois where she designed and taught the college’s first Social Justice Leadership course.

The college recently launched two new high-demand career programs, data science and nutrition. Data scientists turn data into valuable insights. In this program, students will learn to collect, manage, interpret and analyze data in order to assist in making data-informed decisions for the benefit of a company or organization. Data science was ranked #1 as Best Job in America for 2019 by Glassdoor, and the field is estimated to grow 9% from 2018-2028. Similarly, the field of nutrition is estimated to grow 15% from 2016-2026.

The work of nutritionists is a contributing factor in improving health and performance of communities, as well as preventing and treating disease. Nutrition professionals work in a variety of public, private, and community settings applying nutrition-related research to everyday habits and routines. NHCC is the only community college in the state to offer an A.S. degree in nutrition, and credits can be transferred to Minnesota State University, Mankato to pursue a bachelor’s degree. To learn more about these programs, visit nhcc.edu/datascience and nhcc.edu/nutrition.

There’s more great news to share on in-demand career options. NHCC will be awarding 85 Workforce Development scholarships at $2,500 each for the 2020-21 academic year thanks to funding appropriated from the 2017 session of the Minnesota Legislature. Students must meet eligibility requirements and be enrolled in one of several health care or information technology programs. Scholarships open Feb. 15, 2020. Visit nhcc.edu/workforce to learn more.

Finally, I’d like to congratulate Nerita Hughes, Dean of Business, Technology, Career & Workforce Development, for her recent appointment to the Governor’s Workforce Development Board that advises the governor on Minnesota’s workforce system. She will be serving as the Women’s Economic Security Act representative. This is a nice companion to a new initiative NHCC is launching called the Workforce Innovation and Experiential Learning Center that will provide students with the tools, resources, and services needed for job search, career planning and skills training.

Jeff Williamson is interim president of North Hennepin Community College.

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