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Community College of Philadelphia President Donald Generals mingled with more than 140 college presidents at a White House summit focused on increasing the number of students of color who not only attend college but graduate with an academic degree.

That same year, I moved to Philadelphia and enrolled in a chemical technology program at Community College of Philadelphia. While in school, I started an internship at Invisible Sentinel, assembling testing kits.

Our principal consultant was Andres Marin, a former chef who is professor of culinary arts at Community College of Philadelphia and who also teaches safe food handling for people in the restaurant business. We then vetted Marin's work with three chefs and a former catering executive. They generally agreed with the numerical rankings of the violations.

Course of­fer­ings in­clude ad­dic­tion stud­ies; polit­ic­al sci­ence; be­ha­vi­or­al health and hu­man; cul­tur­al tra­di­tions; en­vir­on­ment­al con­ser­va­tion; glob­al his­tory; in­tro­duc­tion to so­ci­ology; and ju­ven­ile justice.

A communications major at the Community College of Philadelphia, Mascino plans to transfer to Temple University to finish his degree in the fall of 2015, “the spring semester at the latest.”

Automotive-service technology students work on a car at the Community College of Philadelphia. A study by The Washington Post shows younger workers are actually staying in their jobs longer than previous generations did.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2014—Today, Community College of Philadelphia’s President Donald Generals Ed.D. will join President Obama, the First Lady, and Vice President Biden along with hundreds of college presidents and other higher education leaders to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.

The White House College Opportunity Day of Action helps to support the President’s commitment to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders, and nonprofits to support students across the country to help our nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment.

Community College of Philadelphia made the following commitments during the Summit:

  • Increase the number of its degree and certificate graduates by 25 percent (500 students) by year 2020.
  • Increase the number of its degree and certificate graduates by 35 percent (700 students) by year 2025.
  • Increase the number of STEM graduates by 20 percent.

“Through a combination of technological improvements, student retention initiatives and new STEM learning opportunities for students, Community College of Philadelphia is well-positioned to reach these goals,” Dr. Generals said. “These commitments are not only important to our College, they are important to Philadelphia’s ongoing workforce training and development initiatives.”

The College has committed to use technology to improve its degree completion rates by strengthening administrative processes and improving services to students. For example, My Degree Path, a new online tool, can help students stay on track by helping them monitor their graduation requirements. Additionally, the College has developed a new Foundational Math Department giving those who teach developmental math greater flexibility to address student challenges and develop new ideas to help students succeed. The Starfish Early Alert System helps identify students who need extra support. Faculty can send personalized and timely alerts to students, and get help or support early on for those who are at-risk.

In regards to the STEM commitment, the College has focused on multiple strategies including student support and retention initiatives, STEM career exploration, experiential lab work and research experience with industry partnerships. In addition to maintaining those existing strategies, the College now plans to give STEM students key academic support and career pathway information at each stage of their academic progress. It will also increase the number of students who participate in research endeavors, both internally and with external partners. A new engineering club also provides opportunities for research and scientific activities as well as hands-on experiments that can increase students’ grasp of the material and engage them on a deeper level.

Today’s participants were asked to commit to new action in one of four areas: building networks of colleges around promoting completion, creating K-16 partnerships around college readiness, investing in high school counselors as part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative, and increasing the number of college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The President will announce new steps on how his Administration is helping to support these actions, including announcing $10 million to help promote college completion and a $30 million AmeriCorps program that will improve low-income students’ access to college. Today’s event is the second College Opportunity Day of Action, and will include a progress report on the commitments made at the first day of action on January 14, 2014.

Expanding opportunity for more students to enroll and succeed in college, especially low-income and underrepresented students, is vital to building a strong economy and a strong middle class. Today, only 9 percent of those born in the lowest family income quartile attain a bachelor’s degree by age 25, compared to 54 percent in the top quartile. In an effort to expand college access, the Obama Administration has increased Pell scholarships by $1,000 a year, created the new American Opportunity Tax Credit worth up to $10,000 over four years of college, limited student loan payments to 10 percent of income, and laid out an ambitious agenda to reduce college costs and promote innovation and competition.

To learn more and to view the event live on December 4, visit Whitehouse.gov/College-Opportunity and follow #CollegeOpportunity

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Community College of Philadelphia enrolls more than 34,000 credit and non-credit students. The College offers day, evening and weekend classes, as well as classes on the Internet. Visit the College at www.ccp.edu. Follow us on Twitter. Like us on Facebook .

Fireside Chat iwth Dr. Generals

Dr. Donald Guy Generals, seated in an armchair, read from a passage as the smell of marshmallows and hot chocolate hung in the air.

He shared “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz, a Dominican-American author who grew up in Dr. Generals’ hometown of Paterson, N.J.

With rapt attention, approximately 40 students, faculty and staff seated around the College’s president listened as some sipped a warm drink.

For the hour during Dr. Generals’ Fireside Chat in the Winnet Student Life Building Coffeehouse on November 18, titles and position were put aside and those who braved the freezing outdoor temperature were engaged, as a community, in a dialogue on a literary work.

Since his arrival, Dr. Generals has said, on many occasions, that his role is to support a good college that is working to become a great institution, and to engage all in the learning process — students, staff and faculty. "We have to continue to keep current with where the world is and what our role is, and how we can affect changes in the world,” he said. “We must become a community of learners."

The new Fireside Chats, launched this fall, provide an opportunity for the College community to learn from and with each other. “My hope is that you will freely share reflections on your favorite book, poem, song or any artistic expression of Hispanic culture,” Dr. Generals wrote in the invitation to the first chat.

The atmosphere was cozy. A dessert buffet in the back of the room included graham crackers, chocolate and an open flame for toasting marshmallows, which added to the ambiance. Dr. Generals ate his first s’more (and loved it). At this forum, all opinions could be voiced, and students could step up to quiz the president.

Those in the audience who had read the book Dr. Generals shared had a lively discussion, as a video of a burning fireplace played on a flat-screen TV near his armchair.

Dr. Generals called on Lynette Brown-Sow, vice president of Marketing and Government Relations, who shared her thoughts about a book called “The House on Mango Street,” by Sandra Cisneros. He then called on Dr. Judith Gay, vice president of Academic Affairs, who read two poems, one which sparked a discussion about the justice system and how difficult it can be for people to improve their lives.

Dr. Generals said he plans to hold several Fireside Chats with different themes and looks forward to more people sharing at the gathering. “This is the first shot at this. We’ll do many more,” he said. “Ultimately this is about reading. We want to encourage you to read as much as possible.”

Students joined Colonial Phil to celebrate Sprit Week at the College. Held December 1–6, Spirit Week events included a pep rally, trivia night, Show Your Spirit Day and the crowning of this year’s Courtwarming King and Queen.

On Thursday, December 4 Community College of Philadelphia President Donald Guy Generals will join President Barack Obama, the First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden at the White House College Opportunity Summit. The Summit will bring together colleges and universities, business leaders, nonprofits and others that are committed to supporting more college opportunities for students across the country. 

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