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SOWELA Invited to Enter $1 Million Aspen Prize Competition for Community College Excellence

SOWELA One of 150 Community Colleges Nationwide Eligible to Compete for Award Recognizing Outstanding Achievements and Student Success

LAKE CHARLES, LOUISIANA – November 18, 2019

SOWELA Technical Community College was recently named as one of 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the 2021 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges. SOWELA was selected from a pool of nearly 1,000 public two-year colleges nationwide to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize, which typically includes $600,000 to the Grand Prize Winner and $100,000 to runner ups.

“This is definitely an honor and privilege to be one of only 150 community colleges chosen from over 1,000 nationwide. Recognition by an organization like the Aspen Institute further legitimizes SOWELA’s great transformation from an old trade school to a comprehensive community college that is truly student focused. As SOWELA continues to grow, we never lose sight of why we exist which is to provide the programs and services that ensure the success of our most important asset—our students. This is a very exciting time in the institutional life of SOWELA. We have achieved record enrollment growth, a complete physical campus transformation and national recognition as the #1 community college in Louisiana for the second year in a row and #11 in the nation by WalletHub. Recently, MSN produced an article on SOWELA and the introductory sentence stated “whatever SOWELA is doing is working” so SOWELA is definitely moving in the right direction. I am very proud of our dedicated faculty and staff and community partners who have made all of this possible,” said Dr. Neil Aspinwall, SOWELA Chancellor.

Awarded every two years since 2011, the Aspen Prize is based on strong and improving student outcomes, including learning, completion rates, employment rates and earnings, and equity, with 15 percent of community colleges nationwide invited to apply.

SOWELA will move forward to the next round of the competition for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence by submitting an application to be reviewed through a rigorous evaluation for a spot on the top 10 Aspen Prize finalists list. Top 10 finalists will be named in May 2020. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data. A distinguished Prize Jury will select a grand prize winner, finalist(s) with distinction, and rising star(s) in spring 2021.

About SOWELA Technical Community College
SOWELA Technical Community College provides traditional, distance, and lifelong learning experiences and awards associate degrees, technical diplomas, and certificates. The College empowers learners in career and technical education and enables transfer students to pursue a four-year degree so all learners excel as globally competitive citizens. The College has been educating the region’s workforce for 80 years and has locations in Jennings, Lake Charles, and Oakdale, LA. For more information, visit www.sowela.edu.