Driven By Podcast

42. “Living Out The Dreams Of Others Before You” with Dr. Tracy D. Hall

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My guest this week is Dr. Tracy D. Hall. Tracy is the President of Southwest Tennessee Community College out of Memphis, TN. Regardless of whether you live in Memphis or not, this is an important conversation that applies all across the country.

We talk about education, changing the narrative, the importance of stem education, why community colleges matter, and more. When DR. Hall took over Southwest TN Community College, Southwest had a graduation rate of 5%. Under her leadership, Southwest TN was awarded the prestigious national bellwether award in the category with Redesign, Reinvent, and Reset.

I wanted to have a conversation with Tracy because when I heard her speech when she was named the new President, she was very straightforward. She was honest about the reality but also hopeful about what her new community college could be. Additionally, we discuss:

–          Why she hates the term at-risk students

–          How she is living out the dreams of those before her

–          How to do more than talk and get stuff done

–          The future of community college education and how they are adapting to the marketplace

–          And more!

Please enjoy my conversation with Dr. Tracy Hall!


1:52 First generation college student

2:28 My mother told me the difficulty of navigating college

3:45 Homecoming Queen

4:35 Growing up in a home with a single parent teen mother

5:30 A lot of my life she has lived vicariously through me

6:14 Living out the dreams of others before me

6:48 Grit and Grind that’s my mother

7:09 How hard she worked

7:19 Defying the odds and stereotypes

7:35 We’ve never lived our lives off of someone else’s standard

10:05 My mentor and the path of teaching

11:18 Moving up through the ranks

11:33 Other people that shaped me

12:35 They didn’t have fancy backgrounds but they were College Presidents

13:16 Start preparing yourself

14:55 Everything in my past prepared me for today

16:14 Now I understand, I didn’t see it

19:04 That’s what drives me when you count me out

20:09 I don’t desire the limelight

20:30 I’m used to being ignored

21:43 Driven to find students marginalized

22:21 Labeling people and their potential

22:46 They don’t have to be A students

23:23 People will limit you based on your zipcode

28:14 They don’t realize their potential

30:47 During those years, we’re supposed to tell them they do matter

36:44 Owning our role in the problem

38:38 What small tweaks can do

41:26 Getting things done

42:02 Politics play a role, we move slow

43:19 When people are in need they don’t need help 6 months from now

49:35 Systems thinking

50:20 Taking a risk on something that may not work

52:16 Strategic risks

59:07 Battling covid

1:01:23 Positioning southwest for the future

1:03:23 We’re not going back to the way the world was before

1:06:05 We can’t let you stay in your comfort zone

1:06:51 High Skill, High Wage, Family sustaining