Retention & Student Success welcomes IDEAS team members


Meet the new team members of the Title III: IDEAS (Inclusive Design for Equity in Academic Success) Grant project! We look forward to seeing their redesign of the student experience at Southwest and in bringing about an equitable and successful learning environment for all students.

Alma Rutledge, MBA

Alma Rutledge

Title III SIP Grant:  IDEAS, Project Activities Director

Alma Rutledge earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology in 2015 followed by an M.B.A. in 2016 from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. She also is currently working on a doctorate in higher and adult education at the University of Memphis.

Alma started her career journey at Southwest in 2018 as a Program Specialist, filling in for a director in the office of Student Disability Services, division of Retention & Student Success. She has served as the College’s Tennessee Reconnect (TN Reconnect) liaison and partnered with various departments and Navigate Reconnect to help TN Reconnect students through their college experience. Alma led the Saluqi Success Pathway for Adult Learners (SSPAL) in partnership with Southwest Mentors Advancing Retention, Teamwork, and Success (SMARTS) to provide adult learners with wrap-around services including access code and textbook scholarships funded by the Tennessee Board of Regents.  She spearheaded the first “Reconnector Roundtable” event with deans, faculty, and staff to provide TN Reconnect students the opportunity to ask questions before the start of their semester, and learn about resources available to them such as the SMARTS mentoring program, Chromebook checkouts, and book scholarships.

With almost 5 years of experience in higher education, Alma is passionate about bridging equity gaps in education. In addition to being bilingual (English and Spanish), her experience in the sciences, business, and student life have prepared her for her new position as Project Activities Director for IDEAS. 

Macklin “Mack” Gipson, MA

Macklin “Mack” Gipson

Program Specialist, Retention & Student Success

Macklin Gipson is a native of Memphis, Tennessee. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Lane College and a Master of Arts in Urban Education & Community Counseling from Norfolk State University. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in higher education leadership with a focus on developmental education from Grambling State University.  Known as “Mack” to everyone, he is driven to excel with a passion for higher education, equity in education and the development of students. During his free time, Mack likes to travel and spend time with his family and friends. 

Mack will serve as the TN Reconnect Liaison and will spearhead outreach initiatives to support the equity work of the College.  

Deanna Black, MBA

Deanna Black, MBA

Title III SIP Grant:  IDEAS – Data Consultant

Deanna Black has joined the Title III team as a consultant. She will spend the next six months working together with the IDEAS team to develop dashboards to help the College become more data informed.

Deanna is an experienced IT professional with a background in IT management and project leadership. She also has experience in the higher education arena developing retention reports to help strategically inform college leaders regarding retention and student success metrics and outcomes. Deanna has a wealth of experience in JQuery, JavaScript, Visual Basic, C#, SQL, Databases, Java, ASP, and .NET, complemented by a strong knowledge of writing code and protocols, testing software and monitoring and automating systems.

Jacqueline Larry, MAEd, MA

Jacqueline Larry, MAEd, MA

Title III SIP Grant:  IDEAS - Supplemental Instruction Coordinator, ASC

Jacqueline Larry has earned several degrees including: Bachelor of Science in Business from Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU); Bachelor of Science in Theology from Oval Bible College; Master of Arts in Education, Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Phoenix; and a Master of Arts in Rural Public Policy, Non-Profit from MVSU. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Public Administration Managerial & Leadership, Non-Profit. Jacqueline has served Southwest’s students as a professional academic advisor and transfer coordinator in the office of Advising and Counseling since 2018.

Prior to coming to Southwest, she worked in the department of Teacher Education at MVSU for over 15 years as the student advisement center coordinator and certification officer where she was instrumental in increasing enrollment. She also played a significant role in the university’s successful Reaffirmation of Accreditation process and taught education seminar classes. She served as campus operations coordinator at the University of Phoenix for two years where she assisted students with the navigation of online resources and tools, monitored student attendance and academic progress, and coordinated campus resources such as workshops and community events.  Jacqueline will spend much of her time ensuring supplemental instruction is fully integrated into Southwest’s highest enrollment, gatekeeper courses in order to help the College strategically close academic achievement gaps.

Michael Leverett, BA

Michael Leverett, BA

Michael Leverett is a 2017 Southwest graduate with an Associate of Arts in General Studies. While he was a student, Michael was president of the Student Government Association and a student ambassador. He took the skills he learned at Southwest and continued his educational journey to Kansas State University, graduating in December 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences with a minor in American ethnic studies. After graduating from Kansas State University, he made his return to Southwest on March 2, 2020, as a professional academic advisor and member of the Title III IDEAS team.



Jessica Dominguez, BA

Jessica Dominguez, BA

Jessica is originally from Mexico City, Mexico but Memphis has been her second home since 2004. Her academic achievements enabled her to receive a scholarship to attend Christian Brothers University, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with honors. After graduation, she served as a behavioral youth counselor at a nonprofit organization geared toward helping Memphis youth, and as a bilingual intake coordinator for a non-profit immigration law firm where she expanded her knowledge on immigration law and sharpened her bilingual skills. Her work in the non-profit sector continued when she was invited to become a board member for Multinational Memphis, a nonprofit organization where she has volunteered for over six years.

While her many interests lie in the non-profit world, education has always been a passion for Jessica, particularly because she wants to represent her community within higher education. This compelled her to join the College in 2019 where she currently serves as a professional academic advisor.

Vickie Walton, MEd

Vickie Walton, M

Title III SIP Grant:  IDEAS - Professional Academic Advisor, Advising Office

Vickie Walton has been an advocate of education since obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. There, she began to develop a passion for education which propelled her to pursue and obtain a Master of Education in Teaching and Learning at DePaul University. After obtaining her licensure and degree, she relocated back to Tennessee to become a full-time English teacher in the Shelby County Schools system. Vickie always wanted to gain a variety of knowledge in the education field, so she later decided to take a position as an academic instructor at Job Corps where she worked to improve literacy rates among young adults who are at-risk. She was a mentor, academic coach, tutor, and curriculum specialist. Helping to promote learning among adults fostered a career ambition that Vickie continues to pursue. Currently, she is a professional academic advisor at the College where she is able to further her learning in adult education and work toward bridging the gap in equities for adult learners. In her spare time, Vickie enjoys reading, writing, running, sporting events and spending time with her family.

Equity & Inclusion Practitioners

Full-time Southwest Faculty & Staff

Equity & Inclusion Practitioners are engaged in reviewing and analyzing data that informs the student success and equity efforts of the College. Here are members of the Equity & Inclusion team.

From bottom: IDEAS Equity and Inclusion Practitioners James Sykes and Jivanta Farmer; (second row, l-r) Nikita Ashford-Ashworth, Alma Rutledge (IDEAS Project Activities Director) and Jacqueline Taylor (IDEAS Project Director); (third row) Katrina Muldrow, Connie Herron and Forrest Smith; (fourth row) Celeste Bailey, Ronald Claxton and Brenda Williams; and at top, Patrick Williams.

E&I Practitioners not pictured are:
Thomas King, Matthew Lexow, Joseph Morris, Soyoung Park, Felecia Bohanon, Jhona Gipson, Lesa Halfacre, Marjorie Rothschild, Michael Rounds, Ciara Shipp, Luther Sweeney, Dustin Williams, Doug Branch and Jessica Miller.

If you are interested in learning more about IDEAS, contact Jacqueline Taylor, IDEAS project director, at or Alma Rutledge at

Scoop - May/June 2020