Spotlight on Greene, Hale, Marengo & Sumter: Higher Education

The University of West Alabama and Wallace Community College Selma - Demopolis Campus provides area students with all levels of education — from certificates to doctoral degrees

The University of West Alabama offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, as well as certificates.

University of West Alabama

The University of West Alabama (UWA) has emphasized education to enhance opportunities of all kinds in the state’s Black Belt region. To that end, it offers four-year bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and doctoral degrees in more than 90 fields of study. It also offers associate degrees and certification programs.

UWA is heavily involved in workforce training, pinpointing needs in local industry and other sectors and crafting programs to fill those needs. Classes are offered on campus and online.

Some of the needs and how UWA is filling them include:

  • The Black Belt Teacher Corps Teach for America, a scholarship program created to address teacher shortages in public schools in the Black Belt region, rural regions and high-need areas within the state.
  • UWA’s Integrated Marketing Communications program received an inaugural Governor’s Seal of Excellence in Work-Based Learning awards for its work in preparing students for upper-level communications, graphic design and media writing.
  • UWA’s conservation enterprise track within its bachelor’s degree in environmental science gives graduates real-world skills attractive to employers in fields such as state parks, nonprofit conservation organizations, hunting lodges and wildlife refuges.
  • UWA’s accounting students get hands-on experience through the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA), a program that is free for eligible taxpayers.
  • UWA offers a 100% online doctorate of business administration in rural business, the first of its kind in the U.S.

In other developments, UWA will become the home to the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame, which has been housed at Judson College. Judson closed in 2021 and the hall of fame will move to UWA this summer.

UWA’s spring 2021 graduates from the Ira D. Pruitt Division of Nursing completed the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses with a 100% pass rate. This places UWA nurses at the top of their field in the state and nationwide. UWA also helps nursing students who are economically disadvantaged with federally funded scholarships from Project EARN.

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UWA also has on its campus the UWA Campus School for age six weeks to four years maintained by the UWA College of Education, as well as the University Charter School, offering classes from pre-K through high school.

Wallace Community College Selma – Demopolis Campus.

Wallace Community College Selma, Demopolis Campus

In July 2019, Wallace Community College Selma expanded its service area into Marengo, Sumter, Greene and Hale counties. The Demopolis Campus offers academic, career-technical, dual enrollment and short-term programs, such as CDL training and welding where students can earn certificates and credit towards a two-year degree. In addition to in-person, online and hybrid courses, WCCS offers adult education classes to prepare students for the GED test. Students can also become better prepared to enter the workforce by learning important soft skills in the Ready to Work program.

Since expanding its service area, the college has increased enrollment and is presently serving more than 300 students here. WCCS has articulation agreements with numerous four-year institutions in the region including the University of West Alabama to help students transition to four-year degrees.

In April 2022, renovations were started to a former armory in Demopolis that will become the West Alabama Regional Training Center. Programs currently planned for the center include industrial maintenance, HVAC, welding, commercial truck driving and specialized short-term training for local industries. The training center is tentatively set to open in 2023.

This article appeared in the June 2022 issue of Business Alabama.

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