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News from DREAM 2021-Friday, Feb. 19

News & Updates
March 19, 2021

This is the final issue of DREAM Daily, wrapping up three days of inspiration, learning, and sharing. Incredibly, given differing time zones and unpredictable weather events, we were able to absorb lessons, exchange experiences, and learn together. Special thanks to the more than 100 dynamic speakers and workshop presenters who kept us engaged and moving forward.

Despite the serious challenges we return to, the stories we heard this week from our speakers and remarkable DREAM Scholars conveyed a real sense of hope and purpose for the important work we do.

"We're changing [America] as much as it's trying to change us." - David Treuer


During Thursday’s opening plenary session on the “Power of Place,” Dr. David Treuer touted the important mission of tribal colleges in helping Native students reconnect with their identities and “imagine futures for ourselves.”

The Pushcart Prize–winning author of The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee, Treuer described his Ojibwe family’s history and the “fraught” relationship Native Americans have with education, beginning with the forced displacement of children into residential boarding schools to be stripped of their culture and continuing today with non-Native assumptions that drive “apathy and opposition.” Reframing the shared experience as one of continuing adaptation is “the part of our lives I’d like us all to embrace,” he said, “and something our colleges and universities… can help us do.”

Treuer also responded to questions from DREAM Scholars Estefany Palencia and Jasminh Au during the session moderated by Dr. Monica Parrish Trent, vice president for network engagement.

David Treuer and Monica Trent speak with DREAM Scholars Jasminh Au and Estefany Palencia on the DREAM virtual platform

Two community college leaders outlined how partnerships helped their institutions make similar connections for their students. Stephanie Hammitt, president of Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, outlined how relationships provided clinical practice opportunities for nursing students in tribal communities in rural Alaska, while Broward College President Gregory Haile stressed how partnerships with community organizations and municipalities helped the institution build a physical presence in three of its most underserved ZIP codes, boosting enrollment and workforce certificates among communities with the greatest needs.

“Community colleges are super connectors,” said Cindy Lopez, ATD executive director for network engagement.

"One of the best investments the public can make is in community colleges." - Jamie Merisotis


Between the recovery from the pandemic and rapid advancements in automation and artificial intelligence, dramatically accelerated training efforts will be essential to help the nation navigate what Lumina Foundation President and CEO Jamie Merisotis called “a new talent economy,” one requiring new skills and a newfound attention to equity.

“If that isn’t a call to action for the nation’s community colleges, I’m not sure what is,” Merisotis said during Thursday’s closing plenary session. “Your task is to find the intersection of the qualities people must develop and the applied and technology skills they’ll need in a future of smart machines.”

Two community college leaders discussed how their institutions are preparing for the “human work” needed in this emerging economy. Amarillo College President Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart outlined efforts to narrow equity gaps by building a “culture of caring and a system of tackling poverty.”

Dr. Karen A. Stout, Jamie Merisotis, Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart, and Dr. Shanna L. Jackson participate in a panel discussion during the DREAM closing plenary.

Nashville State Community College President Dr. Shanna L. Jackson described efforts to bring real-world work experiences to campus, including a student-led project that saved the partner company more than $120,000 annually. “The school-college-work model is broken,” Jackson said. “Joining ATD has provided an important framework for us to use as we are actively reimagining our college to ensure all students… receive the inescapable support they need.”

DREAM Scholars Clifton Traywick and Nikita Johnson described how their community colleges supported them as they identified promising careers and helped them “walk into my journey,” as Johnson put it.  As DREAM 2021 drew to a close, all eight DREAM scholars were awarded $1,000 scholarships from ATD’s Giving Tuesday campaign.


Achieving the Dream is proud to welcome this year’s DREAM Scholars — eight dynamic student leaders looking to make a difference on their campuses and in their communities. The DREAM Scholar program is an experiential learning and leadership program that also involves participation in DREAM 2021. Participants heard directly from these students throughout DREAM, including videos of their “I Am From” poems. We will also highlight two Scholars in each issue of DREAM Daily. Today, meet Nikita and Clifton.

Nikita Johnson - 2021 DREAM Scholar; photo with background

Clifton Traywick - 2021 DREAM Scholar; photo with background

You can also watch the DREAM Scholars’ powerful “I Am From” videos, where they share poems they have written about their educational journey, here.

To learn more about DREAM 2021, read our previous issues of the DREAM Daily:

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