He’s felt the stigma, he says in the accompanying video, that going to community college is somehow less than being a student at a four-year university.
As his own friends left home for four-year schools, says Shockley, the President of Surry Community College, “I can remember feeling left behind, and feeling like I was a failure. And that is something that community colleges have to overcome, is that stigma that it’s less than.
“But it’s not less than,” Shockley stresses.
“Our college-transfer courses are just as rigorous … and I have looked at university chancellors and challenged them and said, ‘Chancellor, our programs are just as good if not better than what you have to offer here at the university.’”
In fact, he says, some students are better prepared when they complete an associate’s degree before they move on to a university.
“And by the way, they’ve saved a lot of money along the way,” he says.
Shockley, the 2017 Community College President of the Year in North Carolina, says he is passionate because he is a product of a community college himself.
“It was the first time in my life that I was successful in an educational environment – and that is very, very powerful,” he says.
Not every student excels in high school, Shockley says, but community colleges offer another chance.
“It is a different environment…. We provide them that second opportunity, and the first powerful opportunity that they have in education to move forward. And that’s some of the most exciting work that we do.”