AC achieves the dream

ATD award

By JERMY STITSWORTH, Staff Reporter |

The Achieving the Dream (ATD) organization has given Amarillo College a national award based on student success improvements. AC and co-recipient Columbus State Community College in Ohio received the Leah Meyer Austin Award during the 15th annual ATD conference Feb. 19 in Long Beach, California.

Dr. Tamara Clunis, vice president of academic affairs, said the changes that led to the honor stemmed from AC’s efforts to assist students living in poverty.

“We noticed that many members of the community and students were living in a growing state poverty, so we established the Poverty Initiative to help those struggling with the financial burdens of college,” she said. “We also adopted the Culture of Caring, which encourages staff and faculty to go the extra mile to achieve student success. That can be anything from helping register for classes to having one-on-one time to assist in a difficult subject.”

Another factor that helped AC win the award was the college’s efforts to increase the number of students attending full-time and completing degrees and certificates. 

Marcy Contreras, an education major, said this gives her hope for her future. 

“Being at a college that is getting an award for good graduation rates is really inspiring,” she said. “It gives me confidence in graduating and getting my degree.”

After receiving the award on behalf of the college, Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart, AC president, said he was humbled.

“This is an incredible badge of honor, especially because it comes from the very prestigious organization, Achieving the Dream, that helped us establish our Culture of Caring and the Poverty Initiative that is making such a dramatic difference in the lives of so many of our students,” he said. 

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