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Dual Enrollment Expands at Luzerne County Community College

Luzerne County Community College has seen 20 percent growth in its dual enrollment program since the 2015-16 academic year, and many of these students are returning after high school graduation to earn a degree or certificate at the college.

Dual enrollment allows high school students to enroll at a local community college and receive college credit while they are still in high school. In the past ten years, dual enrollment at Pennsylvania community colleges has grown by more than 85 percent. Last year, more than 17,000 high school students enrolled at Pennsylvania community colleges through dual enrollment.

Dual enrollment holds great potential for improving college access and completion rates, in addition to lowering the cost of postsecondary education for students and their families. Luzerne County Community College is leveraging this knowledge to better serve students in their geographic footprint.

Rosana Reyes, MPA-IG, Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs at Luzerne County Community College, is tracking the data on returning dual enrollment students – and seeing favorable results.

“Early college or dual enrollment students are increasingly returning to Luzerne County Community College over time,” she said. “We are seeing many either delay their college start after high school or enroll at other postsecondary institutions, only to return and complete here.”

Trends indicate that as many as half of dually enrolled students at Luzerne County Community College could matriculate over a five year period.

These positive trends are being noticed. In 2018, Luzerne County Community College won a national Innovation of the Year Award from the League for Innovation for the College Ready Math Program, which is part of its dual enrollment curriculum. The program was developed to help high school students enhance their college-ready math skill level. In addition to Ms. Reyes, Mary Ellen Jolley, Off-Campus Programs Specialist, and Nicole Saporito, Professor and Chairperson of Mathematics and Engineering, were also honored.

“The commitment of these Luzerne County Community College team members to the students we serve is unparalleled,” said Tom Leary, President of the college. “While we pride ourselves on providing quality, affordable education, these individuals have truly gone above and beyond.”

“We’re very interested expanding dual enrollment possibilities, both at Luzerne County Community College and other community colleges across the Commonwealth,” summarized Ms. Reyes. “This type of benchmark data will help validate our efforts and allow us to better support students.”

Q&A with Sen. Jay Costa, Community College of Allegheny County Alumnus

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.

Westmoreland Vice President Champions Low-Income Single Mothers

Sydney Beeler, Ed.D., vice president of Enrollment Management at Westmoreland County Community College, has become a powerful advocate for low-income single mothers trying to better themselves and their families through education. She has presented the findings of her recent research on the subject at several recent conferences.

One stepping stone she’s found for these parents on their pathway to education attainment is the Keystone Education Yields Success (KEYS) Program, which was established by the state Department of Human Services in the early 2000s. It allows parents on cash assistance to meet federal work requirements by enrolling in one of Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges.

In her research, Dr. Beeler identified several overarching themes. Interestingly, the participants’ children presented both barriers to their mother’s education, yet were also the primary motivator for educational persistence and success.

“I wouldn’t be back in school if it wasn’t for my baby. It wouldn’t have happened at all. It wasn’t even in my plan for the future. I kept saying I’d go back to college, but it never happened,” said one study participant named Ariel. “…[Now] I wake up, I see the smiling face looking at me and I’m like, if I don’t get off of welfare, she’s gonna want for everything.”

In addition to the Department of Human Services KEYS Program, which is administered at the community college level, study participants also found support networks, ACT 101 and on-campus resources helpful. Alternatively, some found the admissions and enrollment process to be challenging, as well as navigating financial aid. Throughout it all, KEYS Program advisors were there to assist eligible students.

“My KEYS advisors definitely helped me the most at school,” said Lori, study participant. “I remember Mary keeping my son in her office one day so I could go to class.”

This year Dr. Beeler has presented her research findings at the Keystone Education Yields Success (KEYS) Summit in June and Pennsylvania Department of Education and Department of Human Services Parent Pathways Summit in April.


Sydney Beeler, Ed.D., vice president of Enrollment Management at Westmoreland County Community College, presents her research at the Pennsylvania Parent Pathways Summit in April.


(L-R) Melissa Addis from HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, and Shae-Lynn Harris from Reading Area Community College recently shared their stories of being successful KEYS Participants at a Department of Human Services press conference with Secretary Miller.

PA Community Colleges to Offer 70 New Programs for the 19-20 Academic Year

Pennsylvania Community Colleges to Offer 70 New Programs for the 2019-20 Academic Year

Responsive New Programs Complement Approximately 1,300 Existing In-Person and Entirely Online Certificates, Degrees and Courses Offered by Pennsylvania’s 14 Community Colleges

Expanding the already robust certificates, diplomas and degrees offered by Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges, the colleges will offer 70 new programs in wide-ranging and in-demand careers for the 2019-20 academic year. The in-person and distance education opportunities include programs in STEM, hydroponic agriculture and substance abuse treatment.

“As the largest provider of higher education in Pennsylvania, our community colleges are critical to the Commonwealth’s continued workforce development and career readiness,” said Elizabeth A. Bolden, president & CEO of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges. “By regularly evaluating local needs and partnering with growing business to create new programs, our colleges are building pathways to in-demand careers that offer family-sustaining wages.”

The decision to create new programs at community colleges is a multi-step process that accounts for local labor market data; demand in high-priority occupations; student interest; equipment, facility and faculty needs; college strategic plans; and the needs of local employers. Many colleges consult with advisory councils comprised of employers in varying industries.

Ultimately, the decision to add new programs rests in the hands of the Board of Trustees at each individual community college. Because the course offerings are managed on a local level, community colleges are able to nimbly respond to needs of their local communities.

A full list of the new programs set to begin in the fall of 2019 or the spring of 2020 is below. For more information on a specific program, please contact the offering community college:

  1. Community College of Allegheny County | Plastics Manufacturing Technology | Certificate
  2. Community College of Allegheny County | Barber | Certificate (Pending Approval)
  3. Community College of Allegheny County | Supervision and Leadership | Certificate
  4. Community College of Beaver County | Chemistry | Degree
  5. Community College of Beaver County | Computer Science | Degree
  6. Community College of Beaver County | Construction Technology and Management | Certificate
  7. Community College of Beaver County | Meteorology | Degree
  8. Community College of Beaver County | Mathematics | Degree
  9. Community College of Beaver County | Physics | Degree
  10. Community College of Beaver County | Sociology | Degree
  11. Community College of Beaver County | Mascaro Construction High School Academy | Dual Enrollment
  12. Community College of Beaver County | STEM High School Academy (Coding Track) | Dual Enrollment
  13. Bucks County Community College | Medical Laboratory Technician | A.A.S.
  14. Bucks County Community College | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | Certificate
  15. Bucks County Community College | Global Studies/World Languages | A.A.
  16. Bucks County Community College | Microsoft Office Technology & Customer Service Specialist | Non-Credit Certificate
  17. Bucks County Community College | Industrial Maintenance Training Program for Youth/Young Adults | Non-Credit Certificate
  18. Delaware County Community College| Forklift Yard Jockey | Certificate
  19. Delaware County Community College | Nursing | Accelerated A.A.S.N. to R.N .-B.S.N. with West Chester University
  20. HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College | English | A.A.
  21. HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College | Political Science | A.A.
  22. Lehigh Carbon Community College | Visual Media | A.S.
  23. Lehigh Carbon Community College | Health Care Office Coordinator | A.A.S.
  24. Luzerne County Community College | Social Media & Digital Marketing | Certificate
  25. Luzerne County Community College | Business Management | Diploma
  26. Luzerne County Community College | E-Sports Management | Certificate
  27. Montgomery County Community College | Tourism and Hospitality Management | A.A.S.
  28. Montgomery County Community College | Tourism and Hospitality Management | Certificate
  29. Montgomery County Community College | Physical Therapist Assistant | A.A.S.
  30. Montgomery County Community College | Pharmacy Technician | Certification
  31. Montgomery County Community College | Nurse Aide Training | Certification
  32. Montgomery County Community College | Medical Billing Specialist | Certification
  33. Northampton Community College | Psychology | A.A.
  34. Northampton Community College | English Proficiency | Specialized Diploma
  35. Northampton Community College | Public Health | Specialized Diploma
  36. Northampton Community College | Auto Service Consultant | Certificate
  37. Northampton Community College | Adventure Course Management | Specialized Diploma
  38. Pennsylvania Highlands Community College | Engineering Technology | A.A.S.
  39. Pennsylvania Highlands Community College | Sustainable Hydroponic Agriculture and Rural Entrepreneurship (SHARE) | Certificate
  40. Pennsylvania Highlands Community College | Substance Abuse and Addiction Technician | Certificate
  41. Pennsylvania Highlands Community College | Bookkeeping | Certificate
  42. Community College of Philadelphia | Advanced Automotive Repair Professional | Proficiency Certificate
  43. Community College of Philadelphia | Black Studies | A.A.
  44. Community College of Philadelphia | Business of Coaching | Non-Credit Certificate
  45. Community College of Philadelphia | Business Leadership | A.A.S.
  46. Community College of Philadelphia | Business Leadership | Proficiency Certificate
  47. Community College of Philadelphia | Coach-approach Style of Leadership| Non-Credit Certificate
  48. Community College of Philadelphia | Coding | Non-Credit Certificate
  49. Community College of Philadelphia | Computer Programming I – Application, Web and Database Development | Proficiency Certificate
  50. Community College of Philadelphia | Computer Programming II – Algorithms and Computation | Proficiency Certificate
  51. Community College of Philadelphia | Corporate Social Responsibility | Proficiency Certificate
  52. Community College of Philadelphia | Digital Investigations | Proficiency Certificate
  53. Community College of Philadelphia | Digital Marketing | Non-Credit Certificate
  54. Community College of Philadelphia | Fashion Merchandising and Marketing | A.A.S.
  55. Community College of Philadelphia | Fashion Retail and Customer Service | Proficiency Certificate
  56. Community College of Philadelphia | Fashion Retail Sales | Proficiency Certificate
  57. Community College of Philadelphia | Mastering Video Marketing | Non-Credit Certificate
  58. Community College of Philadelphia | Tourism and Hospitality Management | A.A.
  59. Community College of Philadelphia | Tourism and Hospitality Management | Proficiency Certificate
  60. Community College of Philadelphia | Web Development II – Cloud Computing | Proficiency Certificate
  61. Westmoreland County Community College | Plumbing| A.A.S.
  62. Westmoreland County Community College | Plumbing| Certificate
  63. Westmoreland County Community College | Plumbing| Diploma
  64. Westmoreland County Community College | Computer Science| A.S.
  65. Westmoreland County Community College | Health Science | A.S.
  66. Westmoreland County Community College | Physics| A.S.
  67. Westmoreland County Community College | Chemistry | A.S.
  68. Westmoreland County Community College | Biology | A.S.
  69. Westmoreland County Community College | Expanded Functions Dental Assisting| A.A.S.
  70. Westmoreland County Community College | Mathematics | A.S.

Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges Announces Prestigious Two-Year Executive Committee Appointments

Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges
Announces Prestigious Two-Year Executive Committee Appointments

Newly Elected Executive Committee Members Include College Presidents, Local Business Leaders

The Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges (PACCC) today announced the recently elected officers to the Executive Committee of its Board of Directors. The Executive Committee leads the PACCC Board of Directors in determining the statewide direction and policy interests of its 14 community colleges.

Executive Committee members serve two-year terms, which begin July 1, 2019. The following officers have been nominated and approved by the PACCC Board of Directors to the Executive Committee:

Chair, Executive Committee, PACCC Board of Directors
John J. “Ski” Sygielski, Ed.D.
President, HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College

Vice Chair, Executive Committee, PACCC Board of Directors
Mark Erickson, Ed.D.
President, Northampton Community College

Secretary, Executive Committee, PACCC Board of Directors
Lynn Distasio, LPT
Vice Chair, Board of Trustees, Luzerne County Community College

Treasurer, Executive Committee, PACCC Board of Directors (Second Term)
Donald L. Heller, CPA
Chair, Board of Trustees, Delaware County Community College

“These individuals are highly respected within their community, deeply invested in our mission, and profoundly dedicated to the success of Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges,” said Elizabeth A. Bolden, president & CEO of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges. “These Executive Committee members understand how critical it is to leverage the expertise and experience of community colleges to increase the workforce readiness skills and educational attainment level of Pennsylvanians, which in turn generates a productive workforce and vibrant economy.”

In the 2017-18 academic year, Pennsylvania’s community colleges enrolled more than 300,000 students from all 67 counties in the Commonwealth. They also provided a foundation for nearly 35,000 students who sought transfer to four-year institutions, saving these students up to $20,000 on the cost of higher education.

John J. “Ski” Sygielski, Ed.D., is serving as vice chair of the Executive Committee through June 30, 2019, then will become its chair.

Dr. Sygielski became the seventh president of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, in July 2011. His previous appointments include president of Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon, and president of Lord Fairfax Community College in Middletown, Virginia. He began his professional career as a teacher in a Chicago inner-city school followed by a stint as a corporate trainer for two Fortune 500 companies. He transitioned to a community college career at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, where he began his community college administration and college teaching career.

Dr. Sygielski is the past chairman of the board for the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and AACC’s 21st-Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges. He also serves on the boards of the Broad Street Market Alliance, Capitol Area Greenbelt Association, Harrisburg Chamber of Commerce, Northeast PA Strategic Early Warning Network (SEWN) and Pennsylvania’s Workforce Development Board. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Harrisburg.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy, two master’s degrees in business and a doctorate in education, as well as an honorary associate degree. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Sygielski is the only member of his working-class family to graduate from college.

“I appreciate the confidence my peers have in my abilities to represent them throughout the Commonwealth as we address a variety of higher education and workforce development opportunities,” Sygielski said. “I look forward to representing the largest sector of higher education in Pennsylvania to business associations, elected officials and community leaders in order to help them better understand the mission, value and tremendous training and education offerings of community colleges throughout the Commonwealth. I also look forward to working with my peers to address significant changes that our sector of higher education is beginning to deal with in order to meet the ever-changing educational needs of our employers and workforce.”

Mark H. Erickson Ed.D., became the fourth president of Northampton Community College on July 1, 2012, driven by a strong belief that the most innovative, exciting and important work in higher education was, and is, taking place at the nation’s community colleges. A native of Nebraska, Dr. Erickson holds a bachelor’s degree in American history from Princeton University and a master’s degree in education from Harvard University. While earning his doctorate in educational leadership at Lehigh University, he received the Mathew W. Gaffney Award for Academic Excellence. He served in several important positions at Lehigh, including dean of students from 1990-1999, associate vice president and executive assistant to the president from 1999-2001, and vice president for administrative and government affairs from 2001-2005.

In 2005, he was named president of Wittenberg University, Springfield, Ohio. During his seven years there he was credited with facilitating the development of new academic programs, expanding international exchange opportunities, and fostering a close and mutually beneficial relationship with the regional community. Under his leadership as president of Northampton Community College, the institution has thrived. The college was selected as one of the top 150 community colleges in the nation by the Aspen Institute in 2014, the same year NCC opened a new $72 million 84-acre campus in Monroe County, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Erickson’s local, state and national leadership includes serving as Chair of Community Colleges for International Development, a founding member of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, and Chair of the Lehigh Valley Education Talent Supply Council. He also serves on the boards of the Lehigh Valley Industrial Parks, the Lehigh Valley Partnership, the Workforce Board Lehigh Valley, Campus Compact of New York & Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation Board of Associates.

“Community colleges are vitally important to providing accessible higher education and workforce training in the state of Pennsylvania,” said Erickson. “The Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges has long advocated that community colleges are not only essential to a healthy, vibrant economy, but they are often the only chance at higher education for many of the state’s residents. I am looking forward to working with my colleagues and the Commission to ensure our students and the communities we serve are successful for years to come.”

Lynn Distasio is currently vice chair of the Board of Trustees at Luzerne County Community College. She also serves as chair of the Board’s Legislative, Economic, and Public Affairs Committee. She has served as a member of the Luzerne Board from 2008 to 2013 and from 2015 to the present.

Distasio co-founded PRO Rehabilitation Services in 1997, which specializes in delivering outpatient physical and occupational rehabilitation services. She began as a treating clinician and clinical manger with the company and was promoted to chief operating officer/clinical director in 2003. She also oversees the operations of PRO Fitness Club, a health and wellness center and Athletic Republic, a sports performance training center.

Prior to working at PRO Rehabilitation Services, she was director of services at Riverside Rehabilitation Center II and physical therapy program director at East Coast Rehabilitation. Distasio also served as an adjunct faculty member at Misericordia University where she taught a course in leadership, administration, and management in physical therapy.

She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Therapy from Temple University. In the community, Distasio has served as a board member of the Colleen Shea Children’s Foundation since 2002 whose mission is to help serve the needs of children through charitable fund-raising and community service. She also recently accepted a board position with the American Heart Association serving the Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties and was appointed as chairwoman for the GO Red for Woman Experience for 2019.

“I am honored to be appointed as secretary for the PA Commission for Community Colleges Board of Directors and especially to be the first trustee to serve from Luzerne in the College’s history,” said Distasio. “I understand how important the community college is to the development of our community and I look forward to working with all trustees to support the Commission and its commitment to our students in keeping education in PA affordable and accessible for all.”

The 2019-21 appointment marks Donald Heller‘s second term as Treasurer of the PACCC Board of Directors’ Executive Committee. Heller has been a member of the Delaware County Community College Board of Trustees since 2014, and currently serves as chair.

As senior vice dean of the Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University, he manages all operating and financial functions of the college and oversees TUTV, the Temple University cable television channel. With more than 30 years business management and finance experience, especially in the entertainment and cable business, Heller also serves as a business development, financing, and operations management consultant.

Previously, Heller was Assistant Dean of Temple University’s College of Engineering. Prior to joining the university, he spent 20 years in cable television as Vice President and General Manager of the PRISM network and as Vice President at the parent company of Suburban Cable Lenfest Communications developing international expansion.

A native of Springfield Township in Delaware County, Heller holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Penn State University and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a strong commitment to the community. He also serves as the Vice Chair of the Philadelphia Police Athletic League (PAL) Board and Chair of the PAL Scholarship Committee and Foundation. He was an elected local school board member for 12 years, serving as Board President and Treasurer prior to joining the Delaware County Community College Board of Trustees. He also served four years in the United States Air Force.

Veteran Finds Job Training at Community College

Sean Kerpovich of Luzerne County decided to serve his country after the devastating terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. He enlisted in the National Guard and, in the following decade, was deployed on three combat tours in Iraq.

During that time, many changes occurred – both nationally and locally – including an economic downturn and a buyout at Mr. Kerpovich’s employer of 23 years.

Recognizing that he needed to adapt his skill set, Mr. Kerpovich began exploring the programs offered by Luzerne County Community College, specifically an engineering, design and manufacturing associate degree. This type of expertise would allow him to mastermind spaces and, perhaps one day, fulfill his dream of owning a business.

“Being a little older, I really didn’t want to attend a four-year college,” said Mr. Kerpovich. “I choose Luzerne County Community College which was right in my backyard. I’m currently using my veteran benefits to pay for school, and the quality education I’m receiving will ultimately train me for in-demand careers right here in Northeast Pennsylvania.”

With a hands-on internship in his field and plans to graduate in the spring of 2020, Mr. Kerpovich says he couldn’t be happier with his choice of college.

“Luzerne County Community College has some of the brightest and most knowledgeable instructors I’ve ever met – and I was once trained at Fort Knox,” Mr. Kerpovich explained. “The college has state-of-the-art real industrial grade equipment so we can train and be prepared for real world achievement. Community colleges set people like me up for success, and for that I’m very grateful.”

On behalf of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges, we thank Mr. Kerpovich and all active duty military, veterans and their family members for their sacrifice. In the 2017-18 academic year, more than 4,000 veterans attended Pennsylvania community colleges, many of which have recognized student veteran organizations on campus.

Penn Highlands Graduate Plans to Continue her Educational Journey

During her senior year of high school in 2017, Jenna Stevens hadn’t planned to continue her education after graduation – until the sudden realization struck her that she might need a postsecondary degree to succeed. As an average student, Jenna wasn’t even sure she could get into a college or university; but when she discovered Pennsylvania Highlands Community College, Jenna found where she belonged.

“Knowing that Pennsylvania is one of the most expensive states for higher education and with concerns about the ballooning national student debt, affordability was very important to me,” recounted Jenna. “Penn Highlands offered so much more than a reasonably priced education – it offered me the opportunity to excel, to lead.”

Jenna Stevens graduated with honors from Penn Highlands as part of the college’s largest graduating class during the Commencement Ceremony on May 11th. As a nominee for distinguished graduate, Jenna is involved in more than 30 volunteer or campus-related activities that have allowed her to develop the leadership skills she believes will help her succeed in life.

“I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities community college has afforded me,” she said. “I wish more people would consider starting their higher education journey at a community college. I was given so many opportunities and didn’t have to sacrifice quality for affordability.”

Research suggests that Pennsylvania college students could save up to $20,000 on the cost of a bachelor’s degree by enrolling at a community college for the first two years.

With aspirations of being a lawyer or an ‘outside-of-the-box’ teacher, Jenna plans to continue her education this fall at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. She is a first generation college student on her mother’s side of the family and she says she wants to be a person on which her family can rely.

“I grew up watching my mom’s family struggle in customer service jobs. I didn’t want that to be me,” Jenna explained. “Part of the reason I’d like to be a teacher is to improve on the ‘book, lesson, test’ educational structure imposed on today’s students. I want to move away from standardization and memorization, and teach principles and ideas to a generation of students who can change the world.”

 

Pennsylvania Community College Students Recognized for Academic Achievements at Harrisburg Awards Banquet

Pennsylvania Community College Students Recognized
for Academic Achievements at Harrisburg Awards Banquet

PA Commission for Community Colleges Celebrates 25 Years of Honoring Pennsylvania Students

The Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges (PACCC) honored the 25th Annual All-Pennsylvania Academic Team at an awards banquet in Harrisburg today. The awards recognize an exceptional group of community college students who have achieved academic excellence and demonstrated a commitment to their colleges and communities.

The 2019 awardees include 47 outstanding community college transfer scholars and eight exceptional workforce scholars from across the Commonwealth. Transfer students must have completed at least 36 credits at a community college and must have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher to be considered for these awards. Workforce students must have a minimum of 12 college-level credit hours at a community college and a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher.

“We applaud these outstanding student scholars on their terrific academic achievements,” said Elizabeth Bolden, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges. “By enrolling in high-quality educational or workforce programs at a community college, these students are building a foundation for a successful career while furthering their postsecondary study.”

Pennsylvania’s community colleges partner with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) universities to provide scholarships to All-PA Transfer Team members at PASSHE institutions, providing two years of tuition at any PASSHE school.

The students receiving the highest All-USA Community College Team application scores in each state are named the Coca-Cola New Century Transfer Scholar and the Coca-Cola New Century Workforce Pathways Scholar. Northampton Community College student Michelle Tatosian is this year’s recipient of the transfer honor, which comes with a $2,250 scholarship from the Coca-Cola Educational Foundation. Community College of Allegheny County student Deawna Alfonsi is the recipient of this year’s workforce honor, which comes with a $1,250 scholarship from the Coca-Cola Educational Foundation.

The Pennsylvania transfer awardees also include five Coca-Cola Silver Scholars who will receive $1,250 scholarships and two Coca-Cola Bronze Scholars who will receive $1,000 scholarships.

The All-USA Community College Academic Team is sponsored by Follett Higher Education Group, a leading provider of college and university bookstore services, with additional support provided by Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK) and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). The New Century Scholars program is sponsored by The Coca-Cola Foundation, Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, PTK and the AACC.

Students nominated to the national All-USA Community College Academic Team are automatically named to the All-State Community College Academic Teams. The programs share common eligibility criteria, which includes enrollment at a community college, a minimum 3.5 grade point average, completion of a minimum of 36 college-level credits, and being on track to receive an associate or bachelor’s degree.

The following students are members of the All-Pennsylvania Academic Transfer and Workforce Teams:

Community College of Allegheny County

  • Deawna Alfonsi, New Century Workforce Scholar
  • Brooke Allen
  • Douglas Cole
  • Ronald Joseph
  • Matthew Konvalin
  • Abigail Manges
  • Tyler Omune
  • Nicole Russell
  • Georgios Sotiriou

Community College of Beaver County

  • Eric Taylor
  • Herney Valdez

Bucks County Community College

  • Greta Chavey
  • Jacob Marquard
  • Vincent Taylor

Butler County Community College

  • Matthew Reitler, Coca-Cola Silver Scholar
  • Claire Rodgers

Delaware County Community College

  • Em Mirra, Coca-Cola Silver Scholar
  • Zun Phyu Thant

Harrisburg Area Community College

  • Willis Boykin
  • Corinne Crushong
  • Sharonda Diggs
  • Blasia Drumm
  • Bryanna Harmon
  • Mark Humphries
  • Gibson Theobald, Coca-Cola Silver Scholar

Lehigh Carbon Community College

  • Mindy Berky
  • Kira Williams

Luzerne County Community College       

  • Dagmar Frias
  • Sharra Walton

Montgomery County Community College

  • Katherine Araya
  • Barry Hunsberger
  • Ezinne Ottih
  • Zachary Perales
  • Kaitlyn Stewart

Northampton Community College

  • Na-Quasia Dickerson
  • Cody Geddings
  • Kendall Lewczak
  • Kayla Marsdale, Coca-Cola Silver Scholar
  • Michelle Tatosian, New Century Transfer Scholar

Pennsylvania Highlands Community College

  • Taylor Beneke
  • Anthony Cornetti
  • Christina Evans
  • Lisa Ferko
  • Augusta Hay
  • Jacqlyn Knox
  • Oliver Lindrose, Coca-Cola Bronze Scholar
  • Tiffaney Smith, Coca-Cola Bronze Scholar

Community College of Philadelphia

  • Veronica Holloway
  • Terrance Meacham

 Reading Area Community College

  • Judith Croteau, Coca-Cola Silver Scholar
  • Patricia Wright
  • Sherry Yost

Westmoreland County Community College

  • Bradley Dupree
  • Lauren Felix
  • Megan Polash

 

 

Community College Leaders and Students Advocate for Increased Funding at Capitol

Pennsylvania Community College Leaders and Students Advocate
for Increased Funding at Capitol

Pennsylvania ranks 48th in affordability for higher education in the United States

HARRISBURG — At the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges’ Annual Lobby Day at the Capitol today, students, trustees, presidents and staff from Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges joined together to advocate for an increased funding level in the 2019-20 fiscal year budget.

The budget proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf does not provide an operating or capital funding increase for the colleges, despite being the largest provider of public postsecondary education in the Commonwealth and a sector that plays a significant role in the Commonwealth’s education and workforce development systems.

“As a community college graduate, I know first-hand the great value that a community college can add to a person – it truly enables an individual to do anything,” said Andrew Helmer, vice president of Human Resources at Hershey Entertainment & Resorts and HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, graduate. “Now that I’m the vice president of Human Resources for Hershey Entertainment & Resorts, I look to community colleges to train the workers we hire.”

Pennsylvania community colleges offer high-quality education and workforce programs aligned with areas of critical workforce needs across the Commonwealth. The 14 colleges regularly consult with business partners – such as Shell in western Pennsylvania, Greiner Packaging in eastern Pennsylvania and AMES Reese in central Pennsylvania – to develop programs to meet state and local workforce needs, while fueling Pennsylvania’s economic recovery. The colleges also educate the Commonwealth’s firefighters, healthcare workers, welders and truck drivers, as well as offering much needed training in other in-demand fields.

In the 2017-18 academic year, Pennsylvania’s community colleges enrolled more than 300,000 students from all 67 counties in the state. They also provided a foundation for nearly 35,000 students who sought transfer to four-year institutions, saving these students up to $20,000 on the cost of higher education.

“When I graduated from high school in 2013, I was in the top 15 in my class. I wouldn’t be able to continue my own education if it wasn’t for academic scholarships,” said Nicole Russell, student of the Community College of Allegheny County. “If we want Pennsylvania to be a great state, we must invest in young Pennsylvanians – we are the future of this state and country. An investment in our youth starts with an investment in community colleges.”

In his budget address, Gov. Wolf indicated that Pennsylvania needs to address the skills gap to ensure that Pennsylvania has a well-trained workforce. He established a goal of 60 percent of Pennsylvania residents having some form of postsecondary education by 2025. Today, community college advocates from across Pennsylvania encouraged Gov. Wolf and policymakers to leverage the experience and expertise of community colleges to meet these goals.

In addition to today’s rally at the Capitol, Pennsylvania community college students spent the day visiting with their local legislators to advocate on behalf of the community colleges’ FY 19-20 budget request. The colleges also set up interactive displays highlighting the varied, cutting-edge programs that community college students in Pennsylvania are studying, including nursing, manufacturing and STEM programs. These interactive displays included a manufacturing simulator, health screenings by nursing students and other engaging activities.

“Pennsylvania community colleges are ready to assist individuals who want to improve their lives by earning a certificate, enrolling in technical training, attaining an associate degree or preparing for further education,” said Elizabeth Bolden, president & CEO of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges. “The colleges are committed to increasing access to quality, affordable higher education in the Commonwealth. We hope the General Assembly will support us in this mission by increasing funding for community colleges.”

 

Distance Education Grant Makes Online Degrees & Certificates More Affordable

In 2015, Chelsey Sirmons IV decided to change his life. Taking advantage of the Pennsylvania State Grant distance education pilot program, he was able to enroll at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) in 2017 and begin reshaping his future.

In long-term recovery himself, Mr. Sirmons started at CCAC by pursuing a certificate in the college’s drug and alcohol program. He is now continuing his education, working towards his associate degree with plans to transfer to Chatham University after graduation and possibly attain a master’s degree thereafter.

“I think it’s time for me to help other people,” said Mr. Sirmons. “Educating myself and becoming a social worker, it’s one way for me to give back.”

The social work program is just one of nearly 20 associate degrees CCAC plans to offer in the fall 2019 semester that can be completed entirely online, in addition to many more that can be completed partially online. Students from anywhere can enroll in these courses because they do not need to physically travel to a location to access education, removing a major barrier some students face.

Mr. Sirmons receives grant money to subsidize some of the cost of his education through a distance education pilot program administered by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, or PHEAA.

“The grant makes everything more affordable. Without the grant, I’d have to take out — and eventually pay off — more student loans,” shared Mr. Sirmons. “Being a nontraditional student, distance education allows me to complete assignments on my time and improves my state of mind. My family is proud of me.”

During the State Grant distance education pilot program, increasing numbers of students at Pennsylvania’s community colleges sought financial assistance through the program, with 7,690 students receiving more than $7 million to support their postsecondary attainment goals. Act 5 of 2018 allows students who enroll in online programs to access the State Grant Program, thereby providing financial support to many thousand more Commonwealth students.

Because of this, the demand for online coursework has risen significantly. Pennsylvania community colleges were quick to respond, collectively establishing more than 150 programs that can be completed entirely online.

The PHEAA Board of Directors will vote March 21 on whether to fully integrate distance education into the Pennsylvania State Grant Program. Integration will help ensure that Pennsylvania-based institutions — including the Commonwealth’s community colleges — remain an affordable option for Pennsylvania students. Without full integration, students may be denied the financial support they need to access postsecondary study simply because they choose to enroll in an online course.

“Even though I don’t physically go to the campus, I’m still a student enrolled at CCAC,” said Mr. Sirmons. “I deserve access to the same grant funds as every other Pennsylvania student.”