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ALAN TURNER: Tulane's Sherry Chance has a passion for education

Sherry Chance

Sherry Chance

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Sherry Chance was born in Florida and spent several years in Alaska, which is probably about the biggest contrast one can imagine.  It wasn’t until she arrived in Mississippi, though, that she finally felt she had “come home,” and she’s lived in the Magnolia State for the past 24 years.

In her role as director of Tulane University’s Madison campus, Sherry has seen the enrollment grow to over 300 students, most of whom are working people in the 29-39 age range.

“But we’ve had students as young as 18, all the way up to 81,” she said with a smile.  “About 60 percent of our students are women, and almost all work and attend evening sessions.”

She points out that one important goal of Tulane in Madison is to provide an affordable and convenient opportunity for working folks to go back to school and complete their education.

“Actually, our tuition here is roughly a quarter of what it would cost to attend the university in New Orleans,” she said.
What she loves is making a difference in the lives of her students.

“I’ve seen people take initiative in their lives and blossom, enter new careers, and make major improvements in their situation.  That’s what I find so rewarding,” she said.

The university currently offers a number of degree programs, including Homeland Security, Health & Wellness, Applied Computer Science, Social Science, and others.  It has begun offering its first master’s program, and hopes to add at least 2 more programs in the near future.

“We’re also committed to offering a non-traditional learning experience,” she said.  “We will begin with offering some online classes this summer, and I have no doubt that that will be expanded in the coming years.”
Where does she see Tulane going and growing in Mississippi during the next few years?

“Ultimately, we can accommodate up to 500 students on this campus,” she said.  “And we’re looking to expand our degree programs with support from some of the schools in the Tulane University system.”

Sherry defines herself as “something of an entrepreneur” who loves challenge and the thrill of starting new ventures and making them successful.  One way she has accomplished her goals is through her energetic involvement in the community.  She is the immediate past chairwoman of the Madison County Business League & Foundation, has served as president of the Madison the City Chamber of Commerce, President of the Madison-Ridgeland Rotary Club, and numerous other organizations and institutions.

“I truly enjoy my interaction with the community,” she said.  “There are so many great people and leaders in Madison County, and I’m confident that our county has a bright future ahead.”

She points to the Biomedical Health Collaboratory that is in the beginning stage in Madison County, as an example of where she sees the Madison County economy (and the Mississippi economy) heading in coming years.

“That’s an exciting prospect,” she said. “I just see so many opportunities for business, education, and government to work together to improve the overall quality of life in our state, bring in new businesses and jobs, and put us on the map, so to speak.”

She acknowledges some of the significant challenges facing Mississippi, not least of which are the problems in Jackson with respect to crime, poverty, and infrastructure.

“I’m confident that the solutions to our problems can be found in improving education for all in our state”, she suggested.  “And educated and quality work force means a good life for all.”

She says there is “no time like the present to pursue one’s goals and dreams.”

It really doesn’t matter what your age or situation might be,” she said.  “There are resources to help everyone achieve a quality education, and I think we’re a good example of doing just that.”

Given her passion for making a difference, there’s little doubt that Tulane in Madison will continue to grow and serve as a key asset in meeting Mississippi’s education needs.

Contact Mississippi Business Journal publisher Alan Turner at alan.turner@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1021.

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