Two Oregon community college alumni from the Class of 2020 spoke to the Legislature's Joint Committee on Ways & Means Subcommittee on Education on April 21 to share their educational journeys as part of the Higher Education Coordinating Commission's community college budget presentation. Andes Hruby, who graduated last spring with a degree in medical assisting from Central Oregon Community College, spoke about how she returned to college after life experiences forced a career change, and now successfully runs her own lab in a methadone clinic in Bend. Esgar Garcia Avila, a 2020 graduate of Blue Mountain Community College who earned an Associate of Science Oregon Transfer Degree in Business, spoke of being a first-generation college student. He was able to achieve his educational dream and graduate debt-free thanks to the Oregon Opportunity Grant, scholarships, federal Work Study and credit waiver programs that made his education affordable. Click here for the two students' testimonies during the hearing -- their portion begins at 9:50 into the recording.
Videos of the OCCA/Phi Theta Kappa All-Oregon Academic Team (AOAT) Featured Scholars are now available! The OCCA Board each year selects four students from the 45 outstanding AOAT scholars to serve as speakers at the annual recognition luncheon. With the cancellation of the 2021 luncheon due to COVID-19, these four students instead created short videos to introduce themselves and share their inspiring stories for the OCCA website and YouTube Channel. This year's featured student scholars include Natasha Robinson and Dava Nimmo from Rogue Community College, Casey Dudek from Portland Community College, and Nora Jackson from Lane Community College. Click here for a full list of AOAT student scholars. Congratulations to all!
While COVID-19 certainly had a major impact on community college enrollment, colleges still found innovative ways to keep students engaged, learning and safe. Linn-Benton Community College Career-Technical Education (CTE) faculty got their creative juices flowing with a fun and educational video highlighting lab safety during the pandemic. These faculty members show off their dance moves with re-imagined lyrics set to Men Without Hats' hit, "Safety Dance," and called their great creation "Safety Labs". Check out the hilarious -- and educational -- video here!
Over the years, students have studied at Oregon's community colleges and entered or re-entered the workforce with newly-acquired knowledge and skills. Today, hundreds of thousands of these former students are employed in Oregon -- in fact, one in 20 jobs in Oregon is supported by community colleges and their students! According to an 2018-19 economic impact analysis by Emsi, the net impact of the colleges' former students currently employed in the state's workforce amounted to $8.7 billion in added income in 2018-19!
Sometimes adversity breeds innovation. That's exactly what Portland Community College's (PCC) Electronic Engineering Technology Program (EET) did in 2020 when classes were forced to go online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the entire college shifted learning to remote and online platforms, the program didn't stay idle and hope its students would survive. Instead, faculty proactively secured more than $71,000 in Carl D. Perkins grant funding, which has helped purchase 110 home kits for students to do lab work and maintain hands-on skills. These kits include some of the program's most-used equipment like the oscilloscope, function generator and digital multimeters, as well as power supplies. Students were only required to buy small and inexpensive items such as five-second timers, jumper wires, LEDs, resistors, capacitors and toggle buttons to continue their work and complement the kits.
PCC's EET Program, based at the Sylvania Campus in Southeast Portland, provides an important pipeline of workers for the local industry. The program produces graduates for firms like Intel, Biotronik, OHSU, Sunset Solar and Cascade Microtech, to name a few. Many of PCC's graduates have achieved upper-level positions as engineering managers and quality control technicians as result of the training. Click here to read more!
LEGISLATORS: Please support HB 2907 to fully fund Oregon's 17 community colleges at $702 million for the 2021-23 biennium! Community colleges are the affordable option for access to higher education in Oregon, particularly after the pandemic caused financial hardship for many Oregonians. Every dollar cut from the Community College Support Fund must be made up by raising tuition or cutting programs and services, moving educational opportunities out of the reach of the Oregonians with the most need.
In addition, community college's are Oregon's economic recovery first responders. Community colleges are essential to responding to the recession brought on by COVID-19 and the wildfires of 2020, offering shorter-term programs directed at getting unemployed Oregonians retrained and back to work as quickly as possible.