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Annual DREAM Conference Welcomes Belk Center Fellows

The Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research is pleased to announce that seven Belk Center Fellows have been selected to attend Achieving the Dream’s DREAM 2024 conference in Orlando, Fla. from February 19-22.

The annual DREAM conference – Achieving the Dream’s (ATD) signature event – brings together thousands of practitioners from hundreds of colleges across the country to exchange evidence-based approaches to accelerating student success that champion equity and drive economic vibrancy.

The doctoral students participating in the conference are representatives of the larger 2024 Belk Center Fellows cohort, and over the course of four-days, will have opportunities to exchange strategies that drive access, momentum, mobility and community impact.

The Belk Center’s Fellows Program was developed in 2017 through a partnership with ATD and the creation of a cohort of DREAM fellows. Each year, the program brings together groups of doctoral students to listen and engage in national conversations surrounding community college and student success. In the 2019-2020 academic year, the Fellows Program expanded to include a partnership with the League for Innovation in the Community College. Later this year, 11 additional Belk Center Fellows will have the opportunity to attend their annual conference in Anaheim, California. 

Meet the 2024 ATD DREAM Attendees

Amanda Jewett Zekanis is the director of Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) and a history instructor at Johnston Community College (JCC). Jewett Zekanis owes many of her successes to the North Carolina Community College System, where she began her educational journey as a student. She completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history at NC State and began teaching at JCC as a part-time faculty member in 2016. During that time, she increased history enrollment by creating asynchronous online courses, established the college’s first history club, and worked with administration to facilitate dual-enrollment partnerships. In 2019, she became a full-time faculty member and in 2020, she became director of the QEP. As director, Jewett Zekanis has built a professional learning gateway course for English and math faculty on inclusive teaching practices, started a mentoring program for new full-time and self-identified minority students, and coordinates JCC’s early alert system to better monitor first-year students’ overall progress. Since moving to the Department of Institutional Effectiveness in 2022, she has become passionate about data-informed decision making and bringing data closer to the classroom, which aligns with her research interest: the efficacy of QEPs. Jewett Zekanis’ career interests include institutional effectiveness and using data to improve institutional outcomes.

Tonya Greene is the director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Wake Technical Community College (Wake Tech). With more than two decades dedicated to education, her career has spanned various roles – from leading Wake Tech’s First Year Academy to contributing to early childhood education and ESL instruction. In her current role, Greene oversees programs that focus on effective pedagogy, curricular assessment, and robust academic leadership, with a strong focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. She also facilitates National On Course workshops dedicated to enhancing student success in higher education. Greene’s research interests lie in improving teaching and learning quality in post-secondary education, particularly through effective practices and frameworks in faculty professional learning for equitable outcomes. Greene holds a master’s degree in education from UNC Greensboro, focused on reading, developmental reading and English as a Second Language (ESL), and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a minor in Spanish. She is also currently pursuing a doctorate in the Community College Leadership program at NC State’s College of Education. As a Belk Center DREAM Fellow, Greene aims to utilize her experience and insights to make a meaningful contribution to the educational community.

Anna Jump is an alumni data and reporting specialist at NC State, where she is focused on database administration, prospect research, donor relations and fundraising. These competencies are integral to her understanding of community college leadership, emphasizing the importance of data management, stakeholder relationships and resource cultivation. Raised in Guatemala, Central America, Jump’s academic journey began in law school before she embraced the diverse educational pathways in the United States. She earned dual associate degrees in advertising and graphic design at Wake Technical Community College, and later, a bachelor’s degree in leadership in the public sector and a graduate certificate in talent development from NC State. As a doctoral student in the Community College Leadership program, Jump is passionate about the transformative role of community colleges in empowering minorities and immigrant communities. She believes education is a vital force that unlocks potential, shaping and benefiting the nation’s future. 

Brandy Dunlap is the dean of continuing education and workforce development at Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute (CCC&TI), where she has worked for more than 22 years. Throughout her tenure at the college, Dunlap has actively engaged with every area of short-term training and adult education, and in her role as dean, she has contributed to the expansion of curriculum programs within the department. In addition to her role at CCC&TI, Dunlap serves on the Western Piedmont Workforce Development Board, where she has had the opportunity to interact with multiple industry sectors within the local economy. As a first-generation college student, Dunlap’s educational journey began at CCC&TI, where she graduated with an associate’s degree in office systems technology. She later completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration through Gardner-Webb University. Dunlap is currently enrolled in NC State’s Community College Leadership doctoral program, where she was selected as a Belk Center Fellow.

Jennifer L. Campbell is an academic advisor at Davidson-Davie Community College (Davidson-Davie), where she is committed to serving the students and working with faculty, staff and the community to ensure that all student service needs are met. As the very first academic advisor for the school’s fully-online programs, Campbell has the opportunity to cultivate innovative strategies to effectively meet the needs of online students. In her position, she collaborates closely with department chairs, program deans, and instructor leads on a daily basis to ensure a supportive learning environment. In recent years, Campbell has served on the New Student Orientation New Platform Committee, the Quality Enhancement Plan student support team, and the Equity Champions team. She has also helped organize and lead graduation fairs and information sessions. Campbell is currently attending the 2023-2024 Advising Leadership Academy through the North Carolina Community College System. She is also actively working on her research which is focused on single-mother students and their motivation to complete a community college credential. When time allows, Campbell enjoys spending time with her husband and traveling.

Monica M. Simmons is the department chair of medical office and legal professions and the program coordinator for medical office administration at Forsyth Technical Community College, where she is dedicated to advancing student academic success initiatives and enhancing completion rates, retention, and equity in instructional areas. Simmons is currently a second-year doctoral student at NC State in the Ed.D. Community College Leadership program. Her research interests include faculty mentoring, faculty development, and the transition of postgraduate students into the labor market. Outside of her professional endeavors, Simmons resides in Greensboro, N.C. with her husband, Jerry. They are the proud parents of children, Jeremy and Moriah.

LaSonya T. Moore serves as a Section 504 coordinator for Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and possesses a commitment for fostering an accessible and inclusive learning environment. Her strong understanding of the Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act guides her efforts in ensuring that students with disabilities receive the necessary accommodations and support. Moore’s background as a K-12 teacher and school counselor allows her to approach each student’s needs with empathy and understanding, dedicated to guiding them through their educational journey. She is committed to ongoing professional development, continuously seeking new ways to enhance her knowledge and skills. This is displayed in her commitment and academic pursuits as a doctoral student in the Community College Leadership program at NC State. Outside of work and academia, Moore finds joy in spending quality time with her husband, Don, and their two teenage children, Donnie and Kynna.