What’s stopping you? TCC alum transitions from tough upbringing to full scholarship

Things are looking golden for Tre’Zjon Cothran. The Tarrant County College alumnus transferred to Texas Wesleyan University on full scholarship, and he is set to soon be the first college graduate in his family. Cothran has an ambitious career path ahead of him that includes becoming a police officer, an attorney and a judge. But that bright future wasn’t just handed to him. Growing up in south Fort Worth, Cothran was surrounded by gang activity. Some of his friends and relatives lost their lives to violence; others went away to prison. Cothran walked a fine line to get where he is today.

“I overcame my environment by not participating in criminal activities, but I also never turned my back on those around me,” explained Cothran. “I wanted to help them and always tried to speak knowledge and treat everyone equally.”

The path to college was far from a given for Cothran. He was considering joining the armed forces when he received an email stating he was accepted to TCC. He decided he would give higher education a try. While he enjoyed his classes at Trinity River Campus, something was missing.

“It did not feel much like college for the simple fact that I went to school and went straight home, just like high school,” Cothran recalled.

Enter the first of three mentors who would change his life: Steven LeMons, coordinator of Trinity River’s Writing & Learning Center. Cothran visited the center to get assistance with a paper during his first semester. The two struck up a conversation, and LeMons told Cothran about Men of Color, a student support program open to all but specifically designed to assist black and Hispanic males—who, nationwide, tend to enroll in higher education and complete their studies at lower rates than other demographic groups.

“I think Men of Color is a good fit for any young male who is trying to navigate his way through college,” said LeMons, who helped found the group at Trinity River. “It gives you an opportunity to bond with individuals who may be experiencing the same thing. Guys in general have trouble expressing weakness or asking for help. When you are involved with a group that answers your questions before you even ask them, that’s a good thing.”

Men of Color connects students to faculty and staff mentors and provides resources to boost academic achievement and leadership skills. The success rate is significant, with 77 percent of fall semester participants returning to TCC in the spring. In comparison, black and Hispanic men who aren’t involved in Men of Color have a retention rate of 43 percent.

“The program creates a level playing field,” said Freddie Sandifer, Men of Color coordinator. “Black and Hispanic men have the capabilities to succeed, but we may have to do more on the front end to ensure they take advantage of the tools and resources that are out there. Men of Color is about making these students understand that college is indeed for them.”

After filling out an application for Men of Color at LeMons’ recommendation, Cothran met Sandifer—who then connected Cothran to Sheldon Smart, communications and speech instructor, who would become Cothran’s official mentor through the program. Each man played a key role in molding Cothran into who he is today.

Trezjon with mentors.

Tre’Zjon, center, with Men of Color mentors Sheldon Smart, left, and Steven LeMons, right.

“Mr. LeMons was someone I could come to and discuss personal matters with and ask for guidance,” Cothran explained. “We discussed life-changing events and he gave me advice about how not to be distracted during the difficult times throughout my life.

“Mr. Sandifer taught me the business side of growing into a man. He taught me to carry myself as a professional and how to properly dress and network. Mr. Smart allowed me to see my capabilities and that I could achieve my goals. He taught me to never be afraid of chasing my dreams.”

The three mentors became a network of support, guiding Cothran through three semesters at TCC. He attended Men of Color workshops and events and even became a student worker for the organization. With a new sense of confidence and vision for his future, he applied and was accepted to Texas Wesleyan.

“Tre’Zjon has overcome quite a lot,” said Smart. “He has come a long way from growing up in a rough neighborhood and being financially poor. What I also admire about him is that he always has a job. This guy is willing to work hard for what he wants. He really does work long hours to make sure his mom and siblings are okay, all while attending school.”

After finishing his bachelor’s degree this December, Cothran plans to go into criminal justice—beginning as a police officer.

“After losing several friends and family members to gun violence, it made me want to be hands-on about removing criminals from the streets,” Cothran remarked. “I want to feel as if I am making the community safer for children. I also feel that there are not enough police officers in the field who can relate to someone of that background.”

Cothran wants to do more than take criminals off the streets; he wants to ensure justice is served. He would like to one day go to law school and eventually become a judge. His mentors have no doubt he will reach those goals.

“Other students can learn from him about hard work and determination despite experiencing a difficult and challenging home life,” noted Smart. “He also isn’t afraid to ask questions and seek advice and counsel.”

Cothran plans to use his experiences with Men of Color and the mentorship of LeMons, Sandifer and Smart to make a difference in the lives of others.

“Now that Tre’Zjon has been mentored, he feels a responsibility to give back,” said Sandifer. “He’s constantly encouraging those he grew up with to get an education and get engaged on campus.”

Cothran is already having an impact in the community, returning to TCC recently to serve as a speaker for a Men of Color event and serving as an officer for a similar group at Texas Wesleyan.

“Students can learn quite a bit from our workshops and seminars, but when you’re learning from a fellow student, you’re getting something from someone in the same time zone of life,” noted LeMons. “Tre’Zjon can share his first-hand experiences, how he succeeded and cultivated key relationships.”

For Cothran, it all comes down to those relationships—and he encourages other students to take time to get to know faculty and staff.

“With the contributions of these gentlemen, I realize I have a voice that not many others have,” said Cothran. “It made me feel that I could possibly be a role model for the next generation. Seeing individuals from similar backgrounds in successful positions gave me hope and confidence.”

This story is the latest in a series celebrating members of the TCC community who don’t let challenges stop them. Follow these links to read previous features:Salma Alvarez, Celia Mwakutuya, Jessica Caudle, Ken Moak, Melora Werlwas, Kevin Douglas, Marine Creek Collegiate High School students and students in atypical careers.

Tarrant County College Offers Inaugural 8-Week Online Courses Beginning Spring 2017

FORT WORTH, Texas (Dec. 8, 2016) – Changing the face of online education and in response to many students’ needs to earn their degrees quickly, Tarrant County College has established a new accelerated academic course plan that enables students to take a smaller number of courses at a time, but still earn 12 hours by the end of the semester.
Beginning in spring 2017, TCC Connect Campus – the TCC campus responsible for eLearning and Weekend College – is offering current and prospective students the option to complete the Associate of Applied Science degree in Business Administration-Business completely online with eight-week classes.
“This opportunity is part of our commitment to address the needs of non-traditional students through our non-traditional campus,” said Carlos Morales, Ph.D., president of TCC Connect. “This eight-week, fast-track degree plan will provide students additional flexibility to plan their courses in a way that works around their overall schedules, while taking course content in a shorter period of time.”
The deadline for registration is Jan. 10 for the first eight-week session with classes meeting from Jan. 17 to March 10. The registration deadline for the second eight-week session, running from March 20 to May 12, is March 13.
One of the attractive aspects of the new option is that it contributes to students’ academic success.
“Research has shown that students are more successful in moving toward graduation when they take accelerated courses which allows them to maintain full-time status,” Morales said. “This format gives students the option of taking two courses every eight weeks and still meet financial aid requirements, eliminating student concerns about how to pay for classes.”
TCC Connect also offers 18 fully online programs, which include five associate degrees and 13 other certificate, Web-based programs. TCC Connect offered the first online Wintermester with 19 course sections for 570 students in 2016. The sections were popular, filling the first week they became available in November.
“The four-week Wintermester, offered during the winter break, also helps foster completion for students and will increase graduation rates by May 2017,” said Kelvin Bentley, Ph.D., vice president of Academic Affairs for TCC Connect.
With a digital course inventory of 350 courses, TCC Connect Campus offers more than 1,100 sections. Current online enrollment is approximately 20,000, with an additional 575 students enrolled in Weekend College, which has experienced a 273 percent increase from the 154 students enrolled in fall 2014.
TCC Connect students also have access to all of the Student Support Services available to students enrolled in traditional courses that meet face-to-face with professors from digital orientation to enrollment services. These services also include online advising, payment, library service, advising, tutoring and proctoring.
Originally launched in 2013 as an administrative division, TCC Connect received accreditation in October 2015 from the Southern Commission of College and School Commission on Colleges Association as Tarrant County College’s sixth campus. TCC Connect in October was ranked 10th in Texas among 173 colleges and universities offering online classes. The ranking was based on the most report from the National Center for Education Statistic’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

TCC Southeast Campus to Host Acclaimed Prairie View A&M University Marching Storm Band

FORT WORTH, Texas (Sept. 28, 2016)

Members of the award-winning Prairie View Marching Storm Band will perform at Tarrant County College Southeast Campus as a part of a special Transfer Connect event hosted by the campus.
Sponsored by the Division of Liberal Arts, this event provides an opportunity for neighborhood residents, current and prospective students to learn about the music programs at TCC Southeast as well enrollment, scholarship and transfer information for Prairie View University. The community is encouraged to attend this free event.
Prairie View’s marching band is in North Texas to perform at Saturday’s State Fair Classic in Dallas.
Friday, Sept. 30
Tarrant County College Southeast Campus
Parking Lot A (west parking lot)
2100 Southeast Parkway
Arlington, TX 76018

Tarrant County College District, UTA launch Early Transfer Identification Program

Initiative will ease the path for more two-year college students to earn bachelor’s degrees

TCC-UTA signing

TCC Acting Chancellor Angela Robinson and UTA President Vistasp Karbhari sign agreement.

FORT WORTH, Texas – Tarrant County College District and The University of Texas at Arlington announce an innovative and collaborative partnership designed to strengthen the workforce by increasing the number of North Texans who have a college degree.
The Early Transfer Identification Program, or E-TIP, enables the two institutions to identify potential transfer students early in their academic careers, create a UTA admissions record for prospective transfer students and guide each student along a clear pathway to a college degree.
The program will streamline the UTA application process for participating TCCD students and will help them achieve an affordable four-year degree at a predictable cost. First-time-in-college students at TCC will be eligible for the guaranteed tuition plan at UTA which provides for tuition at UTA to remain at a constant rate for the four years from their start at TCC.
E-TIP is a critical component of the two institutions’ response to the state’s 60x30TX plan, which calls for at least 60 percent of Texans ages 25 to 34 to have a college degree or a certificate by 2030. Currently, about 38.5 percent of young Texans hold a degree or certificate.
“I am pleased that UTA and TCC are forging stronger partnerships to provide smooth and integrated pathways for students to complete their bachelor’s degrees through a combination of studies at our two institutions,” UTA President Vistasp M. Karbhari said. “A bachelor’s degree is increasingly needed for students to achieve their full potential and to access the economic opportunity that has long been the hallmark of our great state. Academe needs to do more to facilitate excellence and access in higher education at levels affordable to our students, and the E-TIP program provides a step in the right direction.”
Angela Robinson, acting chancellor for the Tarrant County College District, noted that fewer than 23 percent of students enrolled in a community college statewide currently advance to a four-year institution.
“Students come to Tarrant County College for many different reasons, from career enhancement to additional technical knowledge. But a large percentage of students begin their higher education journey on our campuses and will leave TCC well prepared to earn their bachelor’s degree,” Robinson said. “This new partnership will have an immediate positive impact by introducing students early to UTA, providing them a clear academic path toward degree completion and giving them the advising resources they need to succeed.”
The program also includes:
• An agreement that TCCD and UTA will regularly share relevant data about students enrolled in an associate’s degree plans to create an early UTA admission record for two-year college students. Prospective transfer students enrolled in an associate degree plan will be pre-admitted to UTA and will not need to file a separate application.
• A “reverse articulation” agreement that will ensure that appropriate UTA course credits count toward a Tarrant County College associate degree so that more students who enroll in the two-year college will earn a degree from their first institution.
• Regular office hours and meeting space for UTA admissions counselors embedded on Tarrant County College campuses to advise transfer students on degree plans and which courses will count toward an ultimate bachelor’s degree in the selected major. Admissions counselors will help prospective transfer students avoid courses that won’t count toward their major, saving money and time toward degree completion.
• A UTA-led workshop each semester for potential transfer students on each participating TCCD campus.
• An annual special UTA campus tour experience for students participating in the E-TIP program.
• A limited number of tickets to UTA special events and athletics competitions for participating E-TIP students.
The UTA-TCCD program comes as the University is renewing its emphasis on prospective, newly admitted and current transfer students. Both institutions are working to increase the number of college graduates each produces and to help students manage college costs.
UTA is Texas’ top choice for transfer students, with 5,750 new undergraduate transfer students enrolled in Fall 2015. U.S. News & World Report ranked UTA the third-largest destination in the nation for transfer students based on its 2015 survey of undergraduate programs.
About 67 percent of incoming UTA students in Fall 2015 were transfers from other four- and two-year campuses. Tarrant County College is the largest provider of transfer students to UTA each year. Almost 1,800 TCC students have transferred to UTA so far during the the 2015-2016 academic year with more enrolling for summer sessions.

TCC Hosts Senior Preview Day at Five Campuses and CEATL

FORT WORTH, Texas (Nov. 5, 2015)
Tarrant County College is preparing high school seniors to take advantage of its year-long College Access Program that helps students meet the deadlines necessary to ensure they are ready to enroll in college after earning their high school diplomas in 2016.
Students will be able to visualize themselves in college after meeting with TCC faculty, student service staff and by touring a TCC campus where they will see the broad range of post-high school career options they might consider pursuing through educational programs at TCC.
These students also will be given information about the affordability of TCC tuition – just $885 for 15 college hours – and the breadth and depth of TCC’s programs, which are taught by many of the same professors also teaching at area four-year colleges and universities.
From now until they graduate, TCC will assist area seniors with completing the admissions application, preparing for the Texas Success Initiative (TSI) Test, financial aid and follow-up assistance to ensure they complete the enrollment process. Each TCC college access coordinator will work with students from specific Tarrant County schools. Coordinators will spend numerous hours on high school campuses and at area college nights to ensure Tarrant County students are introduced into the college-going culture.
Friday, Nov. 6
10 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. or
11:45 a.m. to 2 p.m.
TCC campuses and addresses are:
Northeast Campus, 828 W. Harwood Road, Hurst
Northwest Campus, 4801 Marine Creek Pkwy. and the Center of Excellence for Aviation Transportation and Logistics (CEATL), 2301 Horizon Drive
Southeast Campus, 2100 Southeast Pkwy., Arlington
South Campus, 5301 Campus Drive
Trinity River Campus, 300 Trinity Campus Circle

TCC NW Campus Hosts First Junior Achievement Day

FORT WORTH, Texas (Nov. 3, 2015)
Tarrant County College Northwest Campus will introduce more than 300 middle school students to the broad range of post-high school career options they might consider pursuing through educational programs at TCC. These students also will be given information about the affordability of TCC tuition – just $885 for 15 college hours – and the breadth and depth of TCC’s programs, which are taught by many of the same professors also teaching at area four-year colleges and universities.
For the first time, TCC is opening its doors to Junior Achievement to host JA It’s my Future. Seventh-grade students from Ed Willkie Middle School in the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw School District will have the opportunity to participate in three sessions that will include role play in an emergency response activity at the TCC Fire Service Training Center and the opportunity to learn how different jobs in the community work together in times of crisis.
Participation in the JA It’s My Future program provides students with practical information to help them make career endorsements when they are in the eighth grade. House Bill 5 requires eighth-grade students to make a career endorsement to help them better plan for their high school classes. As they explore potential careers, students also will discover four factors they should consider when choosing a career to prepare for their future.
Learn more about the Junior Achievement Program at: www.jafortworth.org
Friday, Nov. 6
9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
TCC Northwest Campus
4801 Marine Creek Pkwy.
Fort Worth, TX 76179

TCC Connect Receives SACSCOC Accreditation

FORT WORTH, Texas (October 28, 2015) Tarrant County College Connect Campus, originally launched as an administrative division that manages the College’s eLearning, Weekend College and Dual Credit programs, recently received accreditation from the Southern Commission of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges Association as a sixth TCC campus.
Accreditation provides assurance that TCC’s online offerings meet the same standards for quality, rigor and transferability as its face-to-face programs. As part of its accreditation, TCC Connect is authorized to offer 18 degrees fully online in the areas of Business and Office Technology.
“Today, our students are more mobile, have more responsibilities and are eager to enter the workforce as quickly as possible,” said Carlos Morales, president of TCC Connect. “These special needs demand a flexible learning environment that is in tune with their learning styles and busy lives.”
TCC Connect was established in summer 2013 as an administrative division responsible for eLearning, Dual Credit and Weekend College. From fall 2014 to fall 2015, TCC Connect has experienced the most growth in its Weekend College program. Enrollment has grown 273 percent from 154 students to 575. Through its accelerated Weekend College program, TCC provides students the opportunity to earn an associate degree in 18 months or less in a flexible format that includes online and face-to-face classes.
Enrollment in TCC’s eLearning program is up 28 percent from 15,178 students to 19,400.
The Dual Credit program has grown 11.3 percent from 6,550 students to 7,294. Dual Credit provides TCC a unique opportunity to create a college-going culture in partnership with area independent school districts.
TCC Connect will be located in downtown Fort Worth at 444 N. Henderson Street.
“In an era when it is rare to see new institutions being created, the vision and determination of TCC’s late Chancellor Erma Johnson Hadley and the support of the board of trustees allowed us to establish a campus to deliver academic opportunities to non-traditional students,” said TCC Board President Louise Appleman. “We are very excited about this milestone for TCC. Only a few institutions in this country have achieved what we have accomplished. No one outside our leadership thought we could get it done as quickly as we did.”

Gulfstream Aircraft Training Mock-up Donation Expands TCC Aviation Program

FORT WORTH, Texas (Aug. 19, 2015)
As part of its commitment to providing the most relevant training possible to students in its aviation program, Tarrant County College Northwest Campus Center of Excellence for Aviation, Transportation and Logistics (CEATL) has partnered with Gulf Aerospace to expand its program by including a Fuselage Mock-up of a G-280 Gulfstream Aircraft.
The portable mock-up includes a completely powered fuselage mounted on a flatbed trailer. The systems are displayed so they can be recognized and observed while in use. This complex fuselage will be used to train TCC students and educate students from elementary to high school and the general public at various air shows about career opportunities in aviation.
Savannah, Ga.-based Gulfstream, parent company of Gulf Aerospace, has manufactured business and personal aviation equipment since 1958. Gulfstream operates facilities on four continents, employing more than 15,000 people worldwide. The Dallas facility completes the manufacturing of the mid-cabin aircraft. Dallas staff, who serve on the CEATL advisory board, coordinated the donation.
Thursday, Aug. 20
12:30 p.m.
Tarrant County College Northwest Campus Center of Excellence for Aviation, Transportation and Logistics (CEATL)
Alliance Airport
2301 Horizon Drive
Fort Worth, TX 76177
Earlier this year, TCC’s aviation program at CEATL received 80 737 aircraft windows from Southwest Airlines. The donation moved TCC’s structural element training to a more sophisticated level.
Joe McCourt, director of aviation, 817-515-7263
Darrell Irby, aviation department chair, 817-515-7358

TCC Hosts Info Session to Help North Texans Over 50 Connect to New Careers

FORT WORTH, Texas (Aug. 5, 2015) – Tarrant County College is hosting an information session to help North Texans 50 years and older prepare for new jobs or advance their career. The information session is from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday at TCC South Campus, 5301 Campus Dr., in the Student Center, SSTU 2105.
Sponsored by the AARP Foundation and the Walmart Foundation, the Back to Work 50+ Program is part of TCC’s commitment to expand access to education and training through alternative learning opportunities. The program provides networking strategies, job search assistance and training for high-demand fields. It is designed to facilitate rapid entry into the workforce and offers a free career coaching program that is open to the public. Additionally, Back to Work 50+ provides access to enrollment in TCC’s wide range of training programs—such as medical billing and coding, office administration and information technology. Scholarships are available.
“Today we’re living and working longer than ever before, and it’s important to have resources tailored to the professional needs of older Americans,” said Debra Sykes West, program coordinator. “In Tarrant County, individuals over age 50 typically take at least a year to transition into new employment. TCC can ease that process and link students to tools and services that make them more marketable.”
Since the College launched Back to Work 50+ last year, nearly 250 individuals have taken advantage of the program. TCC is part of a network of community colleges and workforce development agencies across the nation participating in the initiative.
For more details about Back to Work 50+ at TCC, contact Sykes West at 817-515-6150 or Plus50@tccd.edu.

TCC Signs Articulation Agreement with TCU

Chancellors shake hands.

TCC Chancellor Erma Johnson Hadley, right, shakes hands with TCU Chancellor Victor J. Boschini Jr. following the signing of the articulation agreement.

FORT WORTH, Texas (July 20, 2015) – The chancellors of Tarrant County College and Texas Christian University Monday signed an articulation agreement at TCU to facilitate the transfer of TCC graduates to TCU.
The two higher education institutions signed the agreement as part of TCC’s ongoing commitment to student access and success. For TCU, it is a way to increase what already is a steady pipeline of capable, successful students into the rigor of its academic environment.
“We are here today to establish a formal agreement that provides a clear pathway and eliminates the guess work for students as they prepare to transfer from Tarrant County College to Texas Christian University. We are most appreciative of the work invested in crafting this document,” said TCC Chancellor Erma Johnson Hadley. “It has been evident from the very beginning of this initiative that everyone wants to do what is best for our students. This formal partnership will certainly contribute to their success as they continue to pursue their educational goals.”
Since 2000, nearly 1,800 students from TCC have transferred to TCU. TCC offers an excellent program for students to prepare for the academic demands of TCU. In fact, many TCC transfer students are awarded academic scholarships. In the past decade, more students from TCC have transferred to TCU than from any other community college and now comprise about 25 percent of TCU’s total transfer students each semester.
“I am delighted to sign this agreement that strengthens an enduring relationship between TCC and TCU,” said Chancellor Victor J. Boschini Jr. “Graduates from TCC are often leaders on the TCU campus in groups such as Transfer Mentors, which support students entering a new academic environment. We look forward to providing an easier transition in the future.”

Student at signing

TCC graduate and current TCU junior Jesse Schroer, back row, fourth from the left, joined TCU and TCC chancellors, board members and staff at the articulation agreement signing.

TCC Board members flank TCU Chancellor Victor J. Boschini Jr.,  seated left, and TCC Chancellor Erma Johnson Hadley.  TCC board members from left to right are: Board President Louise Appleman,  O.K. Carter, Conrad Heede, Gwen Morrison, Bill Greenhill and  Teresa Ayala.

TCC Board members flank TCU Chancellor Victor J. Boschini Jr.,
seated left, and TCC Chancellor Erma Johnson Hadley. TCC board
members from left to right are: Board President Louise Appleman,
O.K. Carter, Conrad Heede, Gwen Morrison, Bill Greenhill and
Teresa Ayala.