WhyIChoseEducation: ‘Education is an Avenue to Social and Economic Mobility,’ Suggests Elizabeth Town Condition University Chancellor Karrie Dixon ’97, ’03EDD

Karrie Dixon ’97, ’03EDD was functioning as vice president for academic and university student affairs in the UNC Technique Business when she was asked to sign up for a undertaking pressure to create a approach for Elizabeth Town Condition College.

At the time, the university was struggling with a quantity of worries, including a flagging enrollment of just 1,100 learners. When the chancellor at the time introduced his retirement, Dixon served as interim chancellor just before becoming appointed to the position entire time in 2018. Her mission was to convert the university all over. 

“There’s no e-book to notify you how to do it,” Dixon claimed. “What I experienced to do is mirror back to what I uncovered and what I was taught at the Higher education of Education at NC State — what I discovered from my professors, what I have discovered from the professionals that I’ve satisfied alongside the way functioning at NC State and doing the job at the UNC Method place of work — and I applied all of those people instruments that I had in my toolbox.”

Now, 5 a long time into her tenure as chancellor, Dixon describes the college as flourishing.

“There’s a ton of great momentum and electrical power going ahead listed here at Elizabeth Town Condition University,” Dixon claimed. “We’re creating national rankings. We are at around 2,100 students now. We’ve grown by almost 1,000 learners in four years, which is unheard of, and we have the money footing and balance that we want to have.”

The financial security arrived, in element, from an enhanced financial investment from the condition of North Carolina, as properly as a $15 million financial investment from philanthropist Mackenzie Scott. 

“She chose us as a single of 3 campuses in North Carolina simply because she explained that she did her investigation, and she was amazed by the leadership and impressed by the transformation,” Dixon explained. “She desired to devote and needed to give us that improve to continue to keep us going, and it was a sport changer for us.”

Between the causes Dixon cites for the boost in the university’s profile is its aviation science plan. The only 4-yr application of its sort in North Carolina, it creates graduates who go on to be pilots, air targeted visitors controllers and avionics managers. 

“It feels fantastic to wander by the airport at RDU and see our alums and, as I’m strolling through, they’ll call, “Hey, chancellor!” Dixon mentioned. “I’ll look and wave, and it is just a very pleased instant.”

In 2019, Elizabeth Town Condition also started out a 4-12 months diploma system in unmanned plane devices, and the university a short while ago built a $1.5 million, FAA-authorized pavilion wherever college students can comprehensive their education in drone use. 

“It’s genuinely fascinating to see the issues that we’re accomplishing in that place, realizing that we are a small institution in rural North Carolina, but we’re manufacturing some good chances,” Dixon said. “We’re viewing our alumni go out and make a excellent impression in their fields and get superior jobs.”

The traditionally Black establishment was established as a teacher’s school, and Dixon reported it also however plays an essential position in manufacturing lecturers for the northeastern North Carolina area.

“I look at that our premiere software is our education plan, and our signature method is our aviation degree,” Dixon stated. “We even now want to preserve the foundation of why we ended up begun. The worth of developing academics for this region is nonetheless top priority.”

Dixon is aware of the relevance an education and learning method can have — she credits the doctoral diploma she attained via the NC State Higher education of Education’s better instruction method with getting ready her for her current function. 

“It was an working experience that has seriously, as I replicate back again, formed me into the chief I am these days,” Dixon stated. 

The following interview has been edited for duration and clarity. 

Why I Chose Education:

For the duration of my previous yr in my master’s software, I was capable to instruct as a graduate assistant for a new method that was focused on retention, what we refer to these times as concentrating on pupil accomplishment. It was a pilot system. I was responsible for 25 pupils, and these were being college students who had a GPA of 2. or lessen, and these pupils ended up on educational probation and about to be suspended from the college if they did not pull up their GPA in the spring semester. 

My objective was to check out to provide facts and sources to support them convey up their GPA. At the finish of that practical experience, out of the 25 students, 23 of them pulled up their GPA and had been in a position to keep in faculty. And of the two that did not, a person determined to go to the armed forces and the other resolved college was not for her. 

What that taught me is that in greater schooling, we make this kind of a significant impact on the success of our students.That just one semester I invested with those people learners, comprehending what their worries ended up, knowledge the barriers that they observed in their changeover from superior faculty to college, comprehending some of the issues that they deal with — both of those on the educational facet but also on the personalized and social aspect — assisting them to have an understanding of the means that establishments have for them for them to use and helping them to realize how to solution that, how to be a powerful advocate for them selves to make guaranteed they’re having what they will need — that definitely taught me a ton about the affect policy has on university student results and the affect leadership has on university student accomplishment. 

At that position, the light bulb just went off to say, “This is your enthusiasm. This is what you’re intended to be undertaking.” I decided at that place that I wanted to do far more in increased education and learning. I wanted to make a beneficial distinction in the life of college students. I needed learners to be productive and recognize how to navigate the journey of increased education and make their diploma. 

How Schooling Has Formed Me:

I am a initial-era school scholar. I often tease my mom and dad and request, “Do I continue to have that title?” since my father really just acquired his bachelor’s diploma. So I usually tease him like, “Am I nonetheless initial era?” But, I started out out as a initially-era higher education scholar. My mother and father, they were not ready to fiscally attend higher education having said that, they generally instilled in my sister and me the relevance of schooling and how they wanted our life to be distinct. They wanted our life to really focus on education and learning and made confident that we had been prosperous in accomplishing so. My sister, she’s also an NC State graduate. She graduated from the [College of Agriculture and Life Sciences], and she is a biochemist now. Both of us are NC State alums, and my husband is an NC State alum. We go on to bleed Wolfpack purple.

As I glance at the operate that I do at Elizabeth City State, I now realize why my mother and father observed education and learning in the way that they did. At Elizabeth Metropolis Point out, we were being ranked the [No. 1 Historically Black College and University for Economic Returns]. So when you believe about how schooling transforms lives, education is transforming the life of our pupils, and we’re being regarded for that below in northeastern North Carolina.

My mom and dad pushed instruction so a lot, and now I know why they pushed it so considerably. They knew training is an avenue to social and financial mobility. It transforms lives. It transforms households. It transforms the financial status of a spouse and children.

Now, I look at my alumni who occur again and talk to me about their professions and how that has definitely impacted their family members. Exactly where we are in northeastern North Carolina, we’re surrounded by 21 counties that are Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties, some of the most economically distressed counties in North Carolina. So, social mobility and economic mobility are important, and training is the vital to generating positive that these households are remaining mobilized. Knowing the value and the responsibility that we have in that place is really important to the perform that we do and to the value of education and learning.

What I Relished Most About the Faculty of Schooling:

I relished the sizing of the cohort of students that have been accepted the year I was. I loved the simple fact that we had been like a relatives. I built some really good friendships that I have to this working day. The professors, I’m continue to in speak to with them and when I see them, they are incredibly happy. I been given letters and e-mails from them when I turned chancellor at Elizabeth City Point out University, so the help is still there. People folks really have poured into me. The School of Instruction has been extremely gracious and invited me again to existing a handful of periods to classes, which I seriously enjoy. I’ve also been back again to acquire awards from the College of Schooling for leadership. Those sorts of issues are very important simply because it shows that the NC State College of Training cares about their alumni, cares about their achievement, and needs us to appear back, give back again and get ready that next era of leaders. 

I consider that’s important to the accomplishment of the courses inside the School of Education, and I think that’s crucial to the good results of instruction in typical, for our state and our world. When we imagine about that amount of planning, that stage of assist and that degree of chance for publicity, all of all those coupled collectively seriously helped make the working experience and get ready us to go out and do wonderful things. 

I know there are a number of other people today inside my cohort that I graduated with that are foremost colleges. We have been properly trained to do that, and we had been qualified to be a aspect of that pipeline. So, I genuinely do believe that the College or university of Education has performed a huge beneficial effect on my lifestyle and my job.

What Other individuals Must Know About the College of Education and learning:

I am a recruiter for the Higher education of Education — all the time. That is excellent for the reason that you want your alumni to really feel very pleased and value the knowledge and the diploma that was gained. I convey to individuals all the time: My experience in the College of Education at NC State ready me for where I am currently, and I know they can get the exact same working experience.

I think in the excellent of the tutorial diploma. I believe in the workers and the college who truly pour into the students to make them feel valued in the approach. They took the time to make sure that we’re uncovered to distinctive opportunities and different techniques of observing better training, regardless of whether that is bringing in speakers, irrespective of whether which is getting students to national conferences, whether that’s offering them an opportunity to take a look at the environment, as I was equipped to do by traveling to South Africa. [Going overseas is something] I experienced never ever performed just before. For me, that was a thing that was seriously helpful. If it was not for the University of Schooling, I may well not have at any time had the possibility to do that. 

I’m pretty grateful for the professors, the employees, the deans and the faculty who really make it a priority to prepare learners for their professions and improvement in just their professions, as properly. It’s anything that is extremely beneficial and something that I appreciate to inform men and women about.

The Past Issue I Seasoned That Encouraged Me:

The final issue that encouraged me was to have 1 of my alums occur back again to visit me and to say, “Thank you for believing in me” and to explain what he’s undertaking now. It is just so extraordinary. He was a single of our college student entire body presidents when I began. To see how significantly he’s arrive, to see how he’s enthusiastic about the career he has now in banking, to see how he talked about the effects of his achievements on his relatives, on his mom, on all those people who have supported him. Now, he is equipped to assistance them and give back again to them and that’s aspect of that social-financial mobility that I refer to. Which is what happens when we are serving and giving high-quality instruction and prospects to the college students in these Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties that surround us here in northeastern North Carolina. 

That will make me truly feel superior. That tends to make me experience that the work that I do each and every day is vital. We have a accountability to do what is correct and to give men and women an possibility to be thriving. Occasionally, that takes some encouraging and requires some advocacy. But, at the close of the day, you see the effects. 

Getting my alumni arrive by and speak about all those things, I see the smiles on their faces and realize how significant the function that they are accomplishing is — how it is impacting not just them but their overall relatives. It’s just seriously inspiring to me. At the conclusion of the working day, when I imagine about what I’m doing and how significantly of an effects it is creating, it will come full circle. That’s what I desired when I experienced that lightbulb experience and preferred to make an effects. I was trying to determine out how I could do that the best way that I can, and I now see all of that come into fruition.