Responses provided by Sen. Jay Costa’s Office
Q: Why is higher education in Pennsylvania important to you?
A: I know firsthand that a post-secondary education can empower individuals. As a graduate of Community College of Allegheny County (A.S. 1977), and Indiana University of Pennsylvania (B.A. 1979), and a Juris Doctorate from Duquesne University (1989) I have had the incredible opportunity to open doors that otherwise may never have been available to me.
Q: What knowledge, background or perspective on higher education do you bring to the General Assembly?
A: Higher education has provided me with amazing opportunities, so my personal story provides me with a great deal of perspective. Additionally, I’m now serving on the board of trustees for both the University of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County Community College. This provides me with continued opportunities to witness the benefits of higher education, while at the same time being able to steer important institutions locally.
Q: How would you describe the impact of community colleges in your district and statewide?
A: Community colleges are an essential educational stepping stone. They provide access to higher education opportunities that would otherwise be unreachable. Particularly for working class families, adults looking to retrain, and first-generation high education students, community colleges open doors that would otherwise be shut.
Q: What motivates you to improve access to higher education in Pennsylvania?
A: I see success stories all the time that are incredibly inspiring. These personal triumphs remind me constantly of the importance of higher education and the way it can improve peoples’ lives.
Q: What do you believe are the biggest challenges facing community colleges in the Commonwealth?
A: I believe that keeping up with a constantly changing workplace and meeting the job training needs of potential employees is the biggest challenge. Technology and automation change the needs of workers so quickly that community colleges must be nimble enough to meet whatever job skills development are around the corner.
Q: Anything else to add?
A: I am truly grateful for the opportunities that community college provided to me. In my role as a state senator and as a member of the Allegheny County Board of Trustees, I hope that I am giving back to these important institutions so that current and future generations of students are provide the same high-quality educational chances that I was provided. I know that I could not have achieved any of this without my start in community college.