12-10-2016  8:41 am      •     

Weekend College Made It Possible

 

 

My past two years as President of Portland Community College's Cascade Campus have been marked by an unusual honor: During each of those years, the top community college scholar in Oregon has been a Cascade Campus student.

Now, among the ranks of campus presidents, such a thing is a feather in one's cap. It brings recognition to Cascade Campus, it stimulates interest among members of the community, and it adds a little healthy competition into the mix. It gives me a measure of bragging rights, even though it is the students themselves who have done the heavy academic lifting.

But this year in particular, amid the accolades and hoopla, a salient fact stands out. This year's top scholar, Lisa Hummel, is an extraordinarily hard-working and dedicated student who deserves every bit of the recognition she has received, and will receive when she is honored next month at a nationwide convention of community colleges in Tampa, Florida. Lisa's achievements, however, were made possible by a seemingly simple, but all-important factor: accessibility. Had she not been in a position to attend classes at PCC, she would not have been able to excel in the way she has, and her future would look decidedly different than it does as this moment.

There is no Ivy League exclusivity on community college campuses. It is a point of pride for us that we exist to serve everyone in the community, regardless of background, age, race, or economic status. To get a start on her education, Lisa took advantage of a Cascade Campus program called Project Independence, which helps displaced homemakers transition into higher education or the workplace. The program enabled her to bridge the gap between her dream of going to college and the reality of actually doing it.

This question of accessibility must always be at the front of my mind and those of my fellow community college administrators. We must always look for ways to make community college more accessible to everyone, to help would-be students bridge their personal gaps the way that Lisa did.

It is with this notion of accessibility in mind that PCC offers the Weekend College program. Weekend College exists to help those people who want to attend classes but are barred by that most elusive of factors -- time. By offering courses from Friday evenings through Sunday afternoons, Weekend College reaches out to those people whose work and/or family lives simply prevent them from attending classes during the week.

So for those of you who would like to go to school but are busy living your lives during the weekday hours, I would like to propose a bargain. If you will give Weekend College at Cascade Campus a try -- and take that first step toward a degree, a change of careers, or simply a broadening of your personal horizons -- I will continue to do my utmost at Cascade Campus to make higher education even more accessible to you, your family, your friends, and your neighbors.

Trust me on this one -- it's a good bargain, one in which everybody wins. You will never regret seizing an educational opportunity, I guarantee it.

Just ask Lisa Hummel.

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