Ashe County native, Martin (Marty) Messer, Vice President of Customer Care at Elastic has made a generous donation in support of WCC’s Ashe Campus Expansion campaign. In recognition and in honor of Mr. Messer’s generosity, the existing Ashe Campus facility will be named Messer Hall.
Marty Messer was born and raised in Ashe County. His parents, Judy Davis, retired from Ashe Memorial Hospital and Ed Messer, retired from NC Highway Patrol, still live in the county. Marty spent the first 18 years of his life getting everything he could from his schools, teachers, and programs such as the Beta Club, Governor’s School, and Model UN to make a better life for himself and his family. He attended NC State University, first majoring in Materials Science and later in Computer Science. His first real job was with Red Hat in Raleigh where he spent eight years, lived across two continents, had four children, and grew into an executive-level role that would ultimately define the next 12 years of his career through various acquisitions such as Hyperic, SpringSource, VMware and ultimately taking his current company, Elastic, public on the New York Stock Exchange in October 2018.
Messer states, “My entire family is deeply rooted over generations in the Appalachians, in the Maggie Valley area. I believe one of the contributors to my success is where I am from, the grounded and realistic perspective Ashe County gave me, and the reminder it provides that there is more to life than material things. With the right opportunities, I believe others can follow their own equally successful path, and that is what compelled me to help. I now live in the Denver, Colorado area, and make it back home for every Christmas in July so that my children can see where it all started.”
The Ashe Campus in Jefferson originally started offering CE classes in 1975, and curriculum courses in the late seventies through the local high schools. In 1985 a new facility was opened. The Ashe Campus was elevated to multi-campus status in 2008. The facility underwent renovations and additions in 1996 and 2005.
The Ashe Campus Expansion campaign began in 2018. Wilkes Community College serves Ashe, Alleghany, and Wilkes counties, offering comprehensive educational and workforce development programs to meet the needs of the residents of our service. area. As identified in the college’s master facility plan, the expansion of the Ashe Campus has been in development for several years to more adequately serve Ashe County residents who may have been deterred from attending WCC’s main campus by both distance and geography. The new facilities in Ashe County will be focused on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) curriculum, health care, and expansion of workforce development efforts for the rebounding industrial base in the community. It will also allow for the continued growth of the Ashe Early College High School located on the Ashe Campus, which opened in 2018. This program will allow up to 200 high school students (40 per year) to earn both a high school diploma and an associate degree in five years at no cost to the parents. This helps fulfill the college’s strategic planning initiative to raise the level of educational attainment in our service area and to enhance the economic mobility of our residents.
Additionally, the plans call for a new cosmetology classroom and lab and an expanded applied engineering lab/classroom to meet the growing need for skilled machinists and industrial technicians in Ashe County. This space will also be used for ongoing continuing education courses to upgrade the incumbent workforce at diverse companies such as GE Aviation, American Emergency Vehicles, Leviton Manufacturing, United Chemi-con. This is particularly important as the industries pay a living wage, continue to grow at a moderate pace, and are faced with a rapidly aging workforce.
“We are blessed to have Mr. Messer make such a major investment in Wilkes Community College’s Ashe Campus. This will allow generations of Ashe Countians an opportunity to gain a valuable education in their backyard, while also providing a future workforce to ensure our community’s continued growth. Mr. Messer’s investment certainly moves us closer to our goal for the Ashe Campus, however, we continue to seek financial support from businesses and individuals. Giving to this project is a great opportunity to ensure the future growth of Ashe County and it’s people,” stated Chris Robinson, Vice President of WDCE and Ashe Campus.
For more information or to make a donation, contact Allison Phillips at 336-868-6491, visit us at www.wilkescc.edu/giving or send a check to Ashe Campus Campaign, PO BOX 504, Jefferson, N.C., 28640.