The newest teaching site of Northeast State Community College, centrally located at 620 State Street in historic downtown Bristol, Tenn., is rife with cutting-edge equipment, resources and the promise of new beginnings, not only for students but for the Bristol community as a whole.
“We're a community college and we're here to support the community and its endeavors,” said Dr. Keith Young, Dean of Off Campus Programs and Services for Northeast State. “We've been very fortunate to have such a good welcome reception from our downtown folks and the businesses in our area. We hope to bring plenty of customers and well-prepared employees to them.”
Northeast State at Bristol had its grand opening on May 6, 2013, and opened for summer classes the first week of June. The third level, a 15,979-square-foot space occupied by the community college, has been completely renovated and the interior stylishly and economically designed to house as many classrooms and computer labs as possible while maintaining a sleek, contemporary appeal.
As the newest Northeast site, Bristol serves not only its own citizens but those of Mountain City, Bluff City and Sullivan County by providing traditional lecture courses, Internet courses, interactive television courses, and hybrid courses “where half the time you're here [on-site] and half the time you're online,” said Dr. Young, who also serves as the Director of Northeast State at Johnson City. “There's a lot of options right now. We're just kind of easing into our program and will shape it to meet what the community needs from us.”
The majority of the curriculum presently offered through Northeast State at Bristol is introductory courses because, as Dr. Young explained, “technically speaking, right now we're approved to offer up to 49 percent of a program of study.”
He went on to say that this is due to accreditation, but the appropriate paperwork “to offer 50 percent or more of a program” was submitted for approval in the spring. Northeast State anticipates a response within the next month or so.
The potential to offer a full program of study “opens the field for us considerably,” Dr. Young said.
One of the attractive components of the Bristol site for many, aside from its locale, is its programming.
Students may enroll in University Parallel courses alongside the traditional technical courses offered through the community college; “getting people a good start in their college education,” Dr. Young said, no matter their age or educational background.
“We provide a lot of resources, a lot of support for our students to help ease them into the world of higher education,” Dr. Young added.
The space, resources and the support that Northeast State supplies its matriculated scholars at the Bristol site are also accessible for use to area businesses and other schools as part of the college's community-based initiative “to improve economic growth in our region.”
One of the Bristol site's up-and-coming programs, which demonstrates great potential to this effect, is the Entertainment Technology Program - a program intended to usher in a new wave of local technicians capable of properly manipulating light and sound in support of the influx of talented musicians into the Bristol region.
“It's a very highly-specialized field and requires a lot of understanding on multiple levels,” Dr. Young explained. There's the technological side of having to operate lights and sound and then you must “be able to communicate with the musicians.”
Entertainment technicians are in high demand in Bristol due to the prevalence of music festivals like next month's Rhythm & Roots Reunion.
“When we're looking at something of the scale of Rhythm & Roots, they're scouring far and wide to find people to man the control boards,” Dr. Young said. “Each band has its own sound and it doesn't just happen. It's a partnership with the technicians themselves who support that sound.”
The immediacy is there, the jobs are there. All that's lacking are the talented technicians, and it does take talent, Dr. Young assured.
“You need to be able to speak the language,” he said.
In the future, the Entertainment Technology Program could expand further to provide additional technicians for the recording industry, Dr. Young said, and perhaps one day Bristol could even be considered a “mini Nashville.”
As Northeast State at Bristol grows, they invite the community to come experience, learn and grow with them so that we all may have “a better life.”
Northeast State at Bristol is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, visit their link on the main Northeast State Community College website at http://www.northeaststate.edu/ or call the director at 423-354-5213.