One of the roles of SCCC is to help students develop and expand their awareness of the larger world as they mature in their personal, social, and career “lives”. Each student is expected to learn about those around him/her either through class discussions, course assignments, involvement in student organizations, or simply through socializing with other students/faculty/staff through informal settings. That may be accomplished by playing pool, eating a meal in the cafeteria, having a hall-way conversation or through a cooperative assignment, community service activity, or enjoying a family meal with a new acquaintance.

Recent information from an ETS, Inc., report entitled “America’s Perfect Storm” indicates that the majority of U.S. population growth will be realized through an increase in resident immigration. An understanding of this population growth is important for us in order to educate our students regarding the necessity of creating new acquaintances, learning new cultural practices, and understanding the students’ own deeply held beliefs, interests, and family activities. We encourage students to listen to a different music genre, try a different menu item, or discuss a different philosophy of beliefs – all of those are important aspects of being a student of higher education. College students need broad exposure and the opportunity to evaluate his/her own personal attributes in order that he/she validates those attributes.

I am very pleased that we have three new student organizations available to students this year – all of which can assist the participants to expand their awareness of cultures, careers, and philosophies. These organizations (Collegiate Farm Bureau, Students Pursuing Education Careers, and International Student Organization) all fulfill an important aspect of our mission – improving the lives of the individual student – while also allowing the student to develop his/her understanding of the “larger world” aspects of their careers and personal lives. I am a firm believer that student organizations, effectively advised, create strong leadership skills and help the students mature. These new organizations provide another avenue for student understanding and appreciation of the world in which they will participate throughout their lives.
I just returned from the American Community College Trustees (ACCT) annual congress and am excited about what is happening in higher education particularly at community colleges. I joined SCCC Trustee Dr. Steve Cauble and my administrative assistant Ms. Pam Perkins for the conference. I am especially proud that Pam was handled the “gavel” to begin her role as President of the Professional Board Staff Network – the national association of individuals who are assistants to the boards of trustees at community colleges throughout the country. It’s an honor for Pam to have been selected for this role, and it is truly an honor for SCCC to have one of our “own” in that national leadership position. “Congratulations Pam – we are proud of you!”

The sessions I attended focused on a variety of topics including brand image campaigns, sustainability of rural community colleges, changing demographics and economic issues on the national level, and issues related to student retention and work-place readiness. Keynote speakers focused on the global economy and our ability to educate individuals for careers which can support a family, and the variety of issues related to national trends in ethnicity of our population. One session that I particularly appreciated was presented by individuals from the “Encuentros Leadership of North County San Diego” and the accomplishments they are making in retaining Hispanic young men in completing a college education. Their vision statement is that these young men “will become productive citizens of this nation (through improved educational opportunities, personal commitment, and community involvement)”. Those involved in the leadership program serve as speakers, facilitators, and role models for the young men participating in the program. It appears to be a valuable asset to the communities in north San Diego County in California. Another session I attended that I found fascinating was “America’s Perfect Storm” presented by ETS. This is a non-profit institution with the “mission to advance quality and equity in education by providing fair and valid assessments, research and related services for all people worldwide”. ETS was founded in 1947 and works extensively in research and assessment of student learning and achievement. “America’s Perfect Storm” is in reference to the convergence of three critical aspects of our country: 1) changing demographics; 2) changing economic issues; and 3) decline in literacy rates among youth and adults. The website has the full report, the presentation, and a video of the presentation. I encourage anyone involved in education to visit that website and determine your own perspective of the “Perfect Storm” – you may be equally fascinated as I am, and equally concerned about our ability to address those issues.

The opportunity to attend the congress is something I truly appreciate. I always gain insight into the issues facing education whenever I attend a conference, and I work hard to bring those ideas and issues back to our campus. However, I am also always glad to get back to our campus and realize that we are doing so many things right and for the right reasons.