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Drake State Stories & News

Spring 2023 President’s and Dean’s Lists


Congratulations to our Spring 2023 President’s List students! Your academic performance deserves a spotlight. In order to qualify for the President’s List a student must attain a semester GPA of 4.00 and must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credit hours of college-level work. Cheers!

Egypt Stinson
Nabonsbamba Ibrahim Kouraogo
Amanda Coots
Candice Cromwell-Edwards
Nadia Peavy
Sha’Torree Weakley
Chelsea Austin
Matthew Boyd
Alex Brady
Ashley Ford
Regina Robinson
Michael Tucker
Marley Anderson
Katie Byrum
Caden Cagle
Shania Chandler
Malik Everson
Jazmonique Johnson
Aisha Khan
Rodney Rippey
Caitlin Smith
Roman Smith
Jeffrey Stacy
Brittany Stafford
Shacara Washington
Jasmine Williams
Stephanie Yell

Congratulations to our Spring 2023 Dean’s List students! Your academic performance deserves a spotlight. In order to qualify for the Dean’s List a student must maintain a semester GPA between 3.50-3.99 and must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credit hours of college-level work. Cheers!

Sharde Tate
Jose Fernandez
Jessica Love
Tivon Johnson
Cynthia Leslie
Jamesha Reed
Makahla Riley
Alan Duke
Ashley Stewart
Ariana Leichnitz
Tristian Ervin
Dezmon Cartwright
Miles Strickland
Callista Throop
Tucker Lawler
Cody Sharp
Adia Allen
Peyton Harris
Christal Lee
Garron Moore
Tanekia Phillips
Jhoselyn Tapia Hernandez
Dianna Hogan
Jaliyah Lewis
Natiria Griffin
Sanchasaty Mitchell
Kent Richardson
Marvin Batts
Christen Cantrell
Runzell Edwards
Carlos Flores
Theresa Holstein
Aman Smith
April Thomas
Johnathan Tinner


Drake State and Huntsville Utilities Join Forces to Fuel Gas and Water Operation Scholarship Program

Drake State is proud to announce its collaboration with Huntsville Utilities to introduce the Gas and Water Operation Certification Scholarship Program. This innovative four-week program aims to provide alternative pathways to entering the workforce and enrich the pool of potential candidates for gas and water operation careers at Huntsville Utilities and other prospective local employers.

The Gas and Water Operation Certification Program will equip students with the essential skills and knowledge required for successful careers in the gas and water operations sector. The curriculum covers various topics, including Class B CDL training, basic welding, OSHA 10, first-aid, CPR, leadership, basic computer training, and basic mathematics.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with Huntsville Utilities on the Gas and Water Operation Certification Scholarship Program, offering alternative pathways to careers in this sector,” said Dr. Patricia Sims, President of Drake State Community and Technical College. “With Huntsville Utilities’ expertise, we’re providing industry-relevant training, and their $50,000 donation ensures students receive essential support. This partnership reflects our commitment to workforce development, education, and economic growth in our community.”

Huntsville Utilities is committed to enhancing the program by providing subject matter experts directly from their workforce to conduct job-related training modules for all selected students. This collaboration ensures that students receive industry-relevant insights and hands-on training, setting them up for success in the field.

As part of this partnership, Huntsville Utilities is donating $50,000 to fund scholarships that cover tuition, materials and supplies, facility fees, advertising, and student meals for program participants. In addition to financial support, Huntsville Utilities will provide crucial job training and mentorship to scholarship recipients.

“Huntsville Utilities is elated to have this new partnership with Drake State for this Gas & Water Operations program,” said Wes Kelley, President and CEO of Huntsville Utilities. “Drake State is our local community and technical college, and they are producing graduates who we need to join our industry. This new partnership will not only benefit the students here at Drake but will also potentially benefit customers at Huntsville Utilities.”

The collaborative efforts between Huntsville Utilities and Drake State underscore a shared commitment to workforce development, education, and the growth of the gas and water operations industry. This partnership will not only provide students with valuable skills but will also contribute to the economic vitality of the community.

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Drake State President selected to join TVA Regional Energy Resource Council

Dr. Patricia Sims, President of Drake State Community and Technical College, has been selected to join the 6th term of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Regional Energy Resource Council (RERC). This appointment highlights Dr. Sims’ dedication to sustainable energy practices and community engagement.

The RERC, comprising representatives from various sectors, including academia, regional government, TVA customers, and advocacy groups, plays a pivotal role in advising TVA on energy resource management strategies that align with diverse objectives and values.

“As we look toward a more sustainable future, I am honored to contribute to the RERC’s mission in guiding TVA’s energy resource management,” stated Dr. Patricia Sims. “Collaboration and informed decision-making are key to ensuring the well-being and vitality of the Tennessee Valley region.”

Dr. Sims will serve a two-year term from August 1, 2023, through July 31, 2025. The council’s meetings, which traditionally occur 2-4 times annually, will see increased frequency during this term due to TVA’s ongoing Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) process. Dr. Sims’ education and community engagement expertise will provide valuable insights during these discussions.

Dr. Sims’ appointment underscores Drake State’s dedication to fostering sustainable energy solutions and making meaningful contributions to the region’s well-being.

For more information about TVA’s Regional Energy Resource Council and its initiatives, please visit

Drake State, TVA Partner to Support Electric Vehicle Chargers in North Alabama

Drake State Community and Technical College is proud to announce a groundbreaking partnership with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) that marks a significant step toward a sustainable future. As part of this partnership, TVA has generously donated two cutting-edge Level 2 Electric Vehicle (EV) chargers to Drake State’s campus to support regional students as they learn how to repair and maintain electric vehicles in the Automotive Services program.

The partnership between Drake State and TVA is a milestone in the journey toward embracing the energy system of the future. By combining the expertise and resources of both institutions, they aim to create a model for sustainable practices that inspires other educational institutions and businesses in the Tennessee Valley and beyond.

By incorporating electric vehicle charging stations on campus, Drake State is meeting the demands of an evolving automotive landscape and contributing to the growth of the EV charging infrastructure in North Alabama.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Tennessee Valley Authority to bring electric vehicle charging infrastructure to our campus,” said Dr. Patricia Sims, President of Drake State Community and Technical College. “This collaboration aligns with our commitment to sustainability and prepares for the green workforce of tomorrow. It’s not just about the chargers themselves, but the message they send – that Drake State is serious about renewable energy and our role in shaping a cleaner, more sustainable future.”

TVA’s contribution of the state-of-the-art Level 2 Electric Vehicle chargers highlights their dedication to supporting local communities and fostering innovative solutions for the future. TVA has long been a leader in energy initiatives, and its support of Drake State demonstrates its belief in the college’s potential to drive change through education, research, and practical implementation.

“TVA and Drake State share a common mission of economic growth, continual improvement, and enriching the communities we have the privilege to serve,” shared Jared Mitchem, Regional Vice President for the Tennessee Valley Authority.

TVA’s EV charger donation will directly impact students participating in Drake State’s Automotive Services program by providing them access to new technology. After starting Alabama’s first hybrid electric vehicle course, Drake State expanded its curriculum to include EV repair and maintenance. Students will be able to earn a short certificate in electric hybrid vehicles beginning in 2024.

TVA is committed to electrifying transportation and the donation of EV chargers to Drake State is just one example. Together with local power companies and state agencies, TVA is developing and funding the Fast Charge Network to place fast chargers at least every 50 miles along major travel corridors across its seven-state service area. TVA has also developed an EV website with tools for drivers to search for EVs that meet their needs, compare EVs to gasoline-powered vehicles to see how much they will save in maintenance and fuel, and get answers to top EV questions.

edX and Drake State Launch Free Training Program to Build Huntsville’s Tech Talent Pipeline

edX, a leading global online learning platform from 2U, Inc. (Nasdaq: TWOU), together with Drake State Technical and Community College, a historically black community college, and Jobs for the Future (JFF), today announced the launch of a new Access Partnership to provide adult learners in the Huntsville, Alabama area with access to no cost, fully online boot camp programs in cybersecurity and data analytics. Funded by Truist Foundation, the scholarships are designed to increase technical talent in the Huntsville region, specifically focusing on helping women, BIPOC, and lower-income professionals build stronger economic futures.

edX Access Partnerships is an award-winning social impact program that connects colleges and universities with local workforce agencies and funding partners to create affordable pathways for underserved adult learners to gain career-relevant technology skills. The program is underpinned by edX’s industry-leading boot camp curricula in key technology fields. With a focus on innovation and grassroots relationship building, these public-private partnerships have upskilled more than 3,000 learners in communities in the U.S. and U.K. at little to no cost to learners.

The program will initially be offered to 60 learners in the Huntsville area beginning in November, with 30 seats open in the cybersecurity boot camp and 30 in the data analytics boot camp. Learners who successfully complete the boot camp program will receive college credit that can be applied toward an associate’s degree at Drake State. Over the next three years, the program is estimated to support more than 150 Huntsville area residents.

“Drake State has long been committed to offering flexible, affordable technical degrees and customized skills training to support and enhance the lives of our workforce and the health of our industries across North Alabama,” said Dr. Patricia Sims, President of Drake State. “Our new Access Partnership with edX will help us continue to meet workforce demands by preparing highly-skilled workers to take on roles in Huntsville’s unique blend of space and defense industries, biotechnology, healthcare, and high-tech manufacturing.”

edX has convened over a dozen community partners, including United Way of Madison County and Huntsville Madison County Chamber of Commerce, to offer a range of services, including child care services, technology support, transportation assistance, and facilitating connections with potential employer partners, all aimed at providing comprehensive support to learners.

“Supporting workforce development and career readiness are key components of United Way’s goals for making education more accessible to all members of our community,” said Daniel Kasambira, President and CEO of United Way of Madison County. “By partnering with Drake State, edX, and our fellow community organizations, we’re activating collective strengths across sectors to meet learners wherever they are and ensure they are supported in every aspect of their educational journey.”

Huntsville is one of the fastest-growing technology sectors in the U.S. – it’s home to NASA’s Marshall Space CenterBoeingScience Applications International Corporation, and many small federal tech companies. According to Lightcast Labor Insights, there have been more than 2,000 job postings for cybersecurity skills and more than 2,500 job postings for data analysis skills in the Huntsville area over the last six months.

“edX is creating a sustainable workforce development model through our Access Partnerships. By bringing localized leaders in education and economic development together with key funding partners, we are delivering free or significantly reduced-cost, career-relevant education to underserved communities worldwide,” said Anant Agarwal, Founder of edX and Chief Platform Officer at 2U. “Working together with Drake State and other partners in the Huntsville community, we aim to improve access to quality education and help diversify the tech talent pipeline as demand for cybersecurity and data analyst roles continue to grow.”

Access Partnerships are part of edX for Impact – a collective effort to help marginalized learners get the education they need in order to develop the skills to pursue rewarding careers. edX has active Access Partnerships with 19 academic institutions serving learners in AlabamaArizonaCaliforniaColoradoFloridaKansasMarylandNevadaNorth CarolinaOklahomaTexasUtahWashington, and Wisconsin in the U.S.; Birmingham in the U.K.; and New Brunswick in Canada. The partnerships are supported by more than 90 agencies and community partners, each carefully chosen to support their region’s unique learner populations.

As one of the world’s largest developers of technology talent, edX has supported more than 75,000 boot camp graduates globally with the skills, knowledge, and career resources to achieve their goals. According to a 2U-Gallup survey, boot camp graduates surveyed reported being nearly four times happier with their jobs after graduation from the boot camp, and over 86% reported achieving a positive outcome.

For more information and to apply for the program, visit

White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities Recognizes Two Drake State Students

The White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) recognized two Drake State Community and Technical College students today.

Makahla Riley and Eddie Tolbert were recognized for their accomplishments in academics, leadership, and civic engagement.

Riley and Tolbert are two of 102 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students from 29 different states and countries who were included in the ninth cohort of HBCU scholars. Tolbert is majoring in Computer Information Systems, while Riley currently studies Business Administration.

“We are incredibly proud of Makahla Riley and Eddie Tolbert, two outstanding students from Drake State, for being recognized as part of the ninth cohort of HBCU scholars,” said Drake State President Dr. Patricia Sims. “This prestigious recognition highlights their academic and personal achievements and contributions to their community. As they embark on this transformative journey as ambassadors of the White House Initiative on HBCUs and partners with NASA, we do not doubt that Makahla and Eddie will continue to uphold the culture of excellence and inclusion championed by our nation’s HBCUs. Their dedication to serving their communities, along with the opportunities presented through the HBCU Scholars program, will contribute to the growth of our economy and the strengthening of our democracy. We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Makahla, Eddie, and all the 2023 HBCU Scholars on their well-deserved recognition, and we eagerly look forward to witnessing the positive impact they will make as they raise the bar for excellence and innovation.”

Over the course of an academic school year, HBCU Scholars will serve as ambassadors of the White House Initiative on HBCUs, the U.S. Department of Education, and their respective HBCUs.

Furthering the mission to Raise the Bar, students in this program are encouraged to lift their communities, unite others around student success, work to strengthen our democracy and grow our economy. HBCU Scholars will be offered professional and personal development and cross-university networking opportunities with an opportunity to explore, discuss, and improve issues related explicitly to the HBCU community.

“Our 2023 HBCU Scholars are talented students who embody the culture of excellence and inclusion championed by our nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “On behalf of the U.S. Department of Education and everyone across the Biden-Harris Administration, I congratulate each of our 2023 HBCU scholars on this prestigious recognition and thank them for their commitment to serving their communities. I’m thrilled to see the HBCU Scholars program continue to expand its reach and provide such exciting professional development, networking, and educational opportunities to some of our nation’s brightest and most promising young leaders.”

A critical component of the HBCU Scholar Program is a partnership with NASA to foster innovation and opportunity for the cohorts. This partnership with NASA makes the Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) Innovation Tech Transfer Idea Competition (MITTIC), “Mini MITTIC” part of the HBCU Scholar Program. Through the Mini MITTIC program, HBCU Scholars will partner with one another to develop ideas to commercialize technology derived from NASA intellectual property that can improve their campus and surrounding communities. HBCU Scholars will have the opportunity to present their IP ideas in person at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, during the National HBCU Week Conference in September.

“NASA’s MUREP is thrilled, once again, to engage with the White House Initiative on HBCUs to enhance the learning experience for this year’s cohort of White House Scholars,” said MUREP manager Torry Johnson. “We are looking forward to the new ideas that the Scholars develop at the MITTIC Hack-a-thon using NASA’s technology portfolio and our continued overall support of the HBCU community.”

HBCU Scholars will also be invited to the 2023 HBCU Week National Annual Conference, which will be held on September 24-28, 2023, at the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City, Virginia. This year’s conference themes are “Raising the Bar: Forging Excellence Through Innovation & Leadership.” During the conference, HBCU Scholars will participate in conference sessions designed to engage a spirit of innovation, leadership, and personal and professional development. Most importantly, HBCU Scholars will have opportunities to engage with one another, initiative staff, and partners to showcase their individual and collective talent further.

Drake State has increased opportunities for students through partnerships with HBCU initiatives in 2023. In May, the College was inducted into the prestigious Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which provides scholarship and professional opportunities for students. Earlier this month, Strada included Drake State in its HBCU Initiative, which provides students with scholarships, networking, and leadership development opportunities.

To learn more about Drake State and its programs, visit


Below is the complete listing of Alabama’s HBCU Scholars.

(Alpharetta) Taya Davis, North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC

(Dothan) Jamal Maloney Jr., Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, Lincoln University, PA

(Dothan) Ta’Kari Bryant, Stillman College, Tuscaloosa, AL

(Gadsden) Jessica Parker, Gadsden State Community College, Gadsden, AL

(Huntsville) Jaela Haynes Williams, Stillman College, Tuscaloosa, AL

(Madison) Makahla Riley, Drake State Community & Technical College, Huntsville, AL

(Montgomery) Matilda Perryman, Trenholm State Community College, Montgomery, AL

(Montgomery) Morgan Marshall, Alabama A&M University, Normal, AL

(Montgomery) Thaddeus Sneed, Trenholm State Community College, Montgomery, AL

(Pleasant Grove) Haley Heard, Alabama State University, Montgomery, AL

(Troy) Ch’Erykah Dunn, Paine College, August, GA

(Tuscaloosa) Chiamaka Okafor, Shelton State Community College, Tuscaloosa, AL

(Tuskegee) Eddie Tolbert, Drake State Community & Technical College, Huntsville, AL

(Tuskegee) Bruce Taylor, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL

Drake State breaks ground on advanced manufacturing facility

Construction is underway on Drake State Community and Technical College’s advanced manufacturing center. Officials from Drake State, the Alabama Community College System, City of Huntsville, Madison County, as well as representatives from Goodwyn Mills Cawood (GMC) and Fite Building Company celebrated the milestone with a groundbreaking ceremony at the Meridian Street campus on Friday, June 9.

“This leading-edge facility cements our commitment to workforce development in the North Alabama region,” said President of Drake State Community and Technical College, Dr. Patricia Sims. “It will help our students secure high-wage jobs and nationally recognized certifications at an affordable cost. With dedicated spaces for various disciplines and top-notch equipment, we aim to equip our students with the skills needed to excel in high-demand fields. We are grateful to our partners, including the Alabama Community College System, the City of Huntsville, Madison County, Goodwyn Mills Cawood, Fite Building Company, and others, for supporting this vision.”

The Drake State Workforce Skills Training Center was identified as a needed project through the ACCS ASPIRE 2030 initiative, which provides funding for facility upgrades and new construction for all levels of education in Alabama.

The 50,000-square-foot facility will support the aerospace and advanced manufacturing industries and house the most in-demand training programs, including engineering design and mechatronics. The new building will include dedicated space for machine tool technology, welding, industrial systems and technology, drafting and design and more, as well as lab spaces, classrooms and offices for instructors and administration.

The new advanced manufacturing center will equip students with skills that will help them earn a high wage and gain nationally recognized certifications at a low cost.

GMC is providing architectural, interior design, civil engineering and landscape architecture services for the advanced manufacturing facility, which is being constructed by Fite Building Company. Other project team members include Tucker Jones Engineers, structural engineer; MW/Davis Dumas & Associates, mechanical engineer; and Jackson, Renfro & Associates, electrical engineer.

Construction on the new building is scheduled to be completed by fall 2024.

Alabama’s six Historically Black Community Colleges, including Drake State, accepted into Thurgood Marshall College Fund

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Residents who choose to attend any of Alabama’s six historically black community colleges (HBCCs), including Drake State Community & Technical College, will now have access to more scholarships and professional development opportunities through a prestigious national partnership.

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) announced a resolution Tuesday that establishes the following colleges as members: Bishop State, Drake State, Gadsden State, Lawson State, Shelton State, and Trenholm State community colleges. Named after the U.S. Supreme Court’s first black justice, TMCF is a nationally recognized nonprofit membership organization that supports more than 50 historically black colleges and universities.

“I am grateful to have represented our six Historically Black Community Colleges within the Alabama Community College System,” said Drake State Dr. Patricia Sims. “I extend my heartfelt appreciation to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund leadership team for their visionary excellence. This partnership solidifies our position as a leading two-year HBCC institution, and we look forward to collaborating with TMCF and its esteemed partners to cultivate the next generation of talented leaders and innovators. Together, we will continue to impact our community, the nation, and the world.”

Alabama’s HBCCs are the first historically black community colleges to be inducted into TMCF. To date, TMCF has provided more than $300 million in scholarships, programmatic and capacity-building support to its member schools and students.

“Adding community colleges to our membership is part of an intentional move toward a more inclusive talent strategy. A four-year degree is one path but not the only path to career success,” said TMCF President & CEO Dr. Harry L Williams.

“HBCCs play a critical role in local and regional economic development by offering workforce upskilling and reskilling programs. HBCCs across the country offer associate degrees and industry-recognized certificates and credentials that can launch students into the workforce to fill skilled positions that offer good pay without the requirement of a bachelor’s degree. HBCCs also offer students the ability to obtain core, academic credits that can be transferred to a four-year university for a bachelor’s degree.”

Alabama is home to more HBCCs and HBCUs than any other state. Alabama’s Historically Black Community Colleges collectively contribute more than $600 million to the state’s economy and support more than 9,000 jobs, according to an independent economic impact study. Drake State graduates have contributed $37.1 million to the regional economy, and for every dollar invested in the college, taxpayers gain $2.30 in added tax revenue and public sector savings.

“Alabama’s community colleges exist to be a pillar of community for students of all backgrounds to be able to have the resources to reach success, and these national relationships help bolster the advantages and access students have to significant opportunities that support their pursuit of excellence,” said Jimmy H. Baker, Chancellor of the Alabama Community College System.

“The connections students and Alabama’s HBCC leaders will have through the Thurgood Marshall College are bound to strengthen the avenues the colleges provide to residents who trust our colleges with the training they desire for their future.”

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Drake State and Miles College sign MOU to help students succeed

FAIRFIELD, Ala. – Miles College and Drake State Community & Technical College have partnered to create scholarship opportunities and pathways to earning a bachelor’s degree. The institutions’ presidents signed an articulation agreement today at Miles College.

The agreement has four components, including a collaborative and seamless transfer process, scholarship eligibility, reverse transfer credit, and student services.

“Drake State and Miles College give students from underserved and marginalized communities a chance to succeed,” said Drake State President Dr. Patricia Sims. “We are honoring our commitment to equitably level the playing field while encouraging students to pursue their educational goals beyond an associate degree. No more barriers. This agreement enables students to seamlessly transfer credits between two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).”

Drake State Community & Technical College students will be considered for admission to Miles College after earning an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science with up to a maximum of 64 semester hours transferring. Additionally, Drake State  students must have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0.The new partnership will provide reciprocal privileges for using Miles College’s Library Resource Center, College, and Career Center and admission to athletic events. There are also opportunities for advising from both Drake State and Miles College.

“As we continue to create these meaningful partnerships I am excited for the future of our students and Miles College. We should be building our enrollment at every institution in the state as we have to ensure we are preparing our students for this society. We are delighted to sign this memorandum of understanding with Drake State Community & Technical College and look forward to the partnership ahead.” said Bobbie Knight, J.D., President of Miles College.

American Association of Community Colleges selected Drake State President Dr. Patricia Sims to AACC Board

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) selected Drake State President Dr. Patricia Sims to join its board. The AACC represents more than 1,000 2-year, associate degree-granting institutions and nearly 12 million students.

“It’s an honor to be elected to serve on such an impactful organization,” said Dr. Sims. “As the leading advocacy group for our nation’s community colleges, the AACC supports workforce development efforts nationwide to improve the lives of our students. I look forward to assisting the needs of our two-year colleges in this capacity and more.”

Dr. Sims has been president of Huntsville’s Historically Black Community College since 2018. Under her leadership, the college has seen increased state and federal funding, expanded career pathways and programs, and strengthened community partnerships. Drake State is home to the tallest 3D-printed structure in the State of Alabama, thanks to its NASA-sponsored Frontiers Research Program ground-breaking research in space construction.

Dr. Sims has more than 28 years of progressive experience in education. President Biden recently appointed her to the National Infrastructure Advisory Council. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Alabama State Port Authority, the Alabama Partnership for Children, and the Huntsville Hospital Foundation.

New college representatives to the AACC board elected this year include: