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Johnson C. Smith University earns three HBCUgrow LEAD Awards at annual conference, highlights Road to Hire partnership

Photo of website with Dr. McLean's award bio

Charlotte, N.C. / April 16, 2020 – Johnson C. Smith University received three awards at the 2020 HBCUgrow LEAD Conference on April 7, 2020. Dr. Laura Colson McLean, dean of Metropolitan College of Professional Studies, and two JCSU students participated in the virtual conference and shared their involvement with Road to Hire, a partnership with Red Ventures and winner of the Platinum Choice LEAD Innovation Award.

“The award was unexpected because our partnership with Red Ventures is in the initial year of inception,” said McLean.

During the conference, McLean, Khalan Boyer, executive director for Road to Hire, Kiaira Thompson ’20 and Braxton Gambrell ’20 discussed how the partnership was developed and the ways in which it has benefited students at JCSU. 

“The shared focus of Red Ventures CEO Ric Elias and JCSU President Clarence D. Armbrister on preparing high-performing students for the workforce aligned naturally with Road to Hire’s mission of opening career pathways for under-served youth,” Boyer said.

Students enrolled in JCSU’s three-credit, two-semester Digital Marketing course are guaranteed a job with Red Ventures after completion of the course with the grade of a B or higher.

McLean served as a keynote speaker during the virtual conference. She emphasized the importance of partnerships like this, which provide students the opportunity to learn professional development skills including public speaking, giving and receiving feedback in the workplace, and networking.

Thompson, a Business Administration major, admitted the course can be challenging but feels it’s preparing her for her career.

“This course has forced me to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. I appreciate the growth and the ways in which I have been able to excel,” Thompson said.

The program’s success is evident and a second cohort is currently being developed.

Boyer added, “The partnership with Road to Hire supports the economic and upward mobility in Charlotte, and creates a diverse talent pool for companies.”

In addition to LEAD Innovation, JCSU also won the Platinum Choice LEAD Marketing Award for raising awareness of the 50th Anniversary of the University’s first CIAA football championship in 1969 and that team’s $100,000 fundraising campaign; and the Platinum Choice LEAD Military-Friendly Award for the Veteran's Hub on campus that provides resources to students who are military veterans.

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