WACO, Texas (KWTX) Dr. Johnette McKown marks her 10th year as president of McLennan Community College this month and the decade has been one of growth and change.
During her presidency she has overseen the counseling center, the free tutoring center and the completion center which ensures students stay in school.
Starting this fall, Tarleton State University and Texas Tech University offered six additional bachelor’s degrees through MCC’s University Center.
McKown and he husband also started the Emergency Fund to honor their two nephews who committed suicide within three months of each other.
The fund provides students monetary needs to get through school whether that may be paying for a bus pass, or fixing their car or rent.
McKown says she gives a large portion of her check to the fund every year.
MCC has reduced tuition for students who are eligible for free and reduced lunches in McLennan County so they don’t have to pay tuition and fees, McKown said.
She says in this way, it gives all students an opportunity to succeed.
The college has also made changes to make schedules more flexible for students McKown said,
“We have done a lot of curriculum changes, added eight week session classes, more online classes and have added three remote teachers.”
MCC has also emphasized a bigger focus on online learning.
Forty eight percent of the school’s students are currently enrolled in at least one online class McKown said.
The nursing program at MCC was on thin ice with the Texas Board of Nursing in January after failing to meet the 80 percent minimum pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination for a third straight year but she is anticipating some good news this year.
“We have made a lot of changes. We can’t say anything for sure until the board votes in October but our pass rates are up. I think we will have a good news,” McKown said.
McKown’s passion for students developed early in her life.
"My whole life I have been passionate about students,” McKown said.
“When I was little girl I would borrow money from my mom so kids at my school could go to the basketball game."
She says she was inspired by her mother who was a teacher.
She says her mother was her mentor and she was always caring and giving.
“Caring about students is part of my very fiber so I think it’s very important that students have opportunity because when they have opportunity their families have opportunity and then our community will have opportunity," McKown said.
As one of the female leaders in Central Texas McKown is humbled by her success.
“I don’t think you ever make it, you be the best you can be, in my world which is a faith world I want to be where God wants me, being the best I can be,” McKown said.
Her advice to young adults is to always tell the truth, be persistent, do your best and expect more for yourself.
For young women she says to never comprise your values.
“Don’t be someone you’re not, if you lose your integrity you have nothing, you must always remember that, never give up your integrity,” McKown said.
When McKown started her career at MCC in 1989 as vice president of Business Services the school had about 5,750 students and 165 full-time faculty.
The average enrollment is now about 8,800 and the school has 305 faculty members.
McKown, who’s only the third president in MCC’s nearly 65-year history, says she has stayed loyal to MCC because she is passionate to see her students succeed.