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PCC salutes two 'Extraordinary Partnerships' at Commencement ceremony

Sun Journal - 5/15/2019

May 14-- May 14--An organization that provides free, on-campus mental health counseling and a state senator who works tirelessly as an advocate for Pamlico Community College were recognized as recipients of 2019 President's Extraordinary Partnership Awards at last Friday's Commencement ceremony.

Both Promise Place, represented by therapist Gayle Westberg, and Sen. Norman Sanderson, were present at the event to receive the awards from PCC President Dr. Jim Ross.

"For anything great to happen, you've got to have great partnerships," Ross said, noting that the college has achieved tremendous success in recent years, and needs extraordinary partners to keep the momentum going.

"We want to keep moving forward, and the only way we can do it is through extraordinary partnerships," he said.

This is the second year Ross and PCC have presented Extraordinary Partnership Awards. Both of this year's recipients played critical roles in the college's ongoing efforts to recover and move forward after Hurricane Florence last September.

Promise Place was honored for its work to bring free, high quality mental health services to the PCC campus. Ross said all colleges are trying to find ways to help students and employees deal with mental health issues, and Promise Place enables PCC to effectively do so.

A Promise Place representative is on campus one day per week to meet with students and employees who need help. Ross said it was critical to address mental health needs in the same way that physical needs were handled.

"It is extremely important that we look at mental illness as we do physical illness," he said. "When you break your leg, see a professional. When your spirit is broken, see a professional."

In her remarks, Westberg outlined some of Promise Place's services and invited the audience members to contact the organization if they need help. She also congratulated the graduates and thanked the college for the recognition.

"This is such an honor for us," Westberg said.

Sanderson received an Extraordinary Partnership Award for the second year in a row. Last year, he was honored for his work to secure funding for PCC's innovative associate's degree program at Pamlico Correctional Institution, a program that has since exceeded all goals in preparing offenders to succeed in life as productive citizens and reduce recidivism.

This year, the senator was honored for his strong support of legislation to help Pamlico and other affected community colleges recover from Hurricane Florence. Key components of the legislation included funds for building repairs, direct help to affected students and money to offset the colleges' enrollment losses for students who had to leave school or reduce their course loads.

"I've never met a public official who cares more about human beings and making lives better," Ross said, adding that Sanderson was a great supporter of PCC and its students.

In his remarks, Sanderson noted that he'd been associated with the college for 47 years, saying he had received training and instruction at PCC that helped him throughout his career.

He praised the college's family atmosphere and commitment to students' success.

Sanderson also noted the college's positive effects on Pamlico County and said it was an easy choice to be an advocate for PCC.

"It touches more citizens of Pamlico County than any other institution that I know," he said. "It's not hard to advocate for this community college because it's the right thing to do."

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(c)2019 the Sun Journal (New Bern, N.C.)

Visit the Sun Journal (New Bern, N.C.) at http://www.newbernsj.com

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