OCT. 9- At the Phi Theta Kappa Regional Leadership Conference hosted by BMCC, speakers stressed the importance of the Community College Completion Corps, known as the C4 Initiative.
Senior VP of Academic Affairs at BMCC, Sadie Bragg, opened the conference by urging PTK members to focus on the C4 program. She pointed out that community college graduates usually earn more, have greater job security, and hold a competitive edge over non-graduates. After her speech she encouraged PTK members to act as guides for their peers. “A lot of students are walking around who don’t know what to do,” said Bragg, who plans to solicit students to come up with ideas for a completion agenda.
On April 10, 2010 PTK joined other organizations participating in the C4 project after President Obama pledged to increase graduation rates by 50% over ten years. PTK signed onto the program during the organization’s National Conference in Orlando.
Former PTK International President Edgar Romero, who was the only student representative present at the Board of Directors meeting when the program was enacted, hopes that school chapters will eventually form stronger connections with their administrators so that together they can reach out to struggling students. “The first step, though,” points out Romero, “is about creating the conversation and making noise.”
The objective of C4, expressed Romero, targets a complex problem “that will take many years and faces many obstacles and difficulties.” Chief among them are the wide range of reasons students fail to complete their degrees, which includes financial issues, family responsibilities, and personal problems.
Tackling these issues is the Alpha Theta Iota chapter at Monroe Community College. Over the summer members organized a scholarship for the winners of an essay contest for students, asking why college completion is important to them. The Scholarship involves two tiers of judges to select the winners. One is formed by PTK members and the other by administrators. The essay winner will be awarded $250 towards their education and runner up prizes include a free parking pass, $50 for the cafeteria, and a $25 gift card for the school bookstore. The winners will be announced at the C4 event at Monroe CC and afterwards Alpha Theta Iota has organized a scavenger hunt to introduce students to school resources like the math and writing labs. Western Vice President Tim Gaura, who constructed the essay’s grading rubric, reported that 3-4 students come into his office daily to inquire about the scholarship. “People are excited, mainly, because they see [the essay] as accessible. It has nothing to do with grades and what you’ve done or haven’t done.”
Bookending the conference was keynote speaker Phillip A. Berry, who after graduating from BMCC went on to get his M.B.A from Xavier University and now operates a consulting firm for business management. Berry touched on C4’s commitment to social responsibility, saying, “Each of you has chosen to embark on a road of excellence. That road has to be paved not only by your mind but by the minds of those you bring with you.”