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Community colleges recognized during month of April

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April is National Community College Month, which means it’s a time to recognize Southeast Community College and other academic institutions around the country for providing a vital service to the community and its residents.

SCC’s own president, Dr. Paul Illich, started his educational career at a community college in Texas. As a first-generation student with limited resources, he received a track scholarship to Blinn College in Brenham, Texas.

“There are many benefits of attending a community college, including affordability, small class sizes, high quality instruction, and accessible faculty and staff,” Illich said. “They also have diverse student populations, and this provides all students with the opportunity to learn about and experience different views, ideas and beliefs.”

Lincoln State Sen. Adam Morfeld also started at a community college in South Dakota. He has since earned bachelor’s and law degrees, but recalls community college as being a good fit for someone like him: a non-traditional student working full-time.

“The class sizes are generally small, and the instructors really cater to non-traditional, often first-generation college students,” Morfeld said. “It also allowed me to meet some pretty amazing people from all walks of life: Traditional students, non-traditional students like me, immigrants, refugees, which also gave me important perspectives that I still carry with me to this day.”

Bev Cummins is vice president for student affairs at SCC, and also got her start at the College. She initially started at a four-year institution, but SCC was a better fit, and she has never looked back.

“I appreciated the small classes and being able to go through the program with a cohort of students,” she said. “For me, the ability to give back to the College that changed my life has been overwhelmingly fulfilling, and I love that I have been able to help transform the lives of others the way mine was transformed.”

Nebraska Lt. Gov. Mike Foley earned his associate degree at Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York. He recommends looking into community college regardless of career choices for many reasons.

“Community colleges are both affordable and of high quality and provide a superb way to transition directly to the workforce or to other higher education opportunities,” Foley said. “Nebraska is blessed to have an abundance of outstanding community colleges which I have become familiar with and strongly recommend.”

SCC recently built a state-of-the-art health facility on the Lincoln Campus that offers 16 health sciences programs. Many of those are in high demand and even have signing bonuses for the new grads in fields where there is a great need. Holly Krieger graduated from the Respiratory Care program in 2006 and now works at Bryan Health as a respiratory care therapist.

“When I first moved to Lincoln at the age of 21, I was floundering and had little to no idea of what direction I wanted my life to take,” she recalled. “SCC helped me in a flexible and cost-effective way to get on track and land myself in a dependable and fulfilling career.”

The SCC Board of Governors will sign a proclamation during the April 19 meeting in Hebron that recognizes the College for all of its contributions to the 15-county service area and beyond.

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Andrea Gallagher
Communications Specialist
402-323-3395
agallagher@southeast.edu