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U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. discussed the importance of citizenship at Community College of Philadelphia’s 2015 Judge Edward R. Becker Citizenship Award luncheon.

I found hope Saturday during the research class I teach at Community College of Philadelphia. As part of a research assignment, I told students that President Obama would propose this new entitlement during his State of the Union address.

Elizabeth Crutchley is the type of worker cities across the nation are anxious to attract. She is young, enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, and determined to make a difference in her community. - See more at: http://www.noodls.com/viewNoodl/26614560/community-college-of-philadelphia/moving-philadelphia-forward-elizabeth-crutchley-making-a-c#sthash.u5FjJbvh.AfZ5JkL8.dpuf
Community colleges just may be the best ladder to the middle class that exists in big cities like Philadelphia, offering a pathway to four-year degrees for graduates of troubled public schools and career training for young and old alike. The Community College of Philadelphia has served more than 685,000 students in its history, a staggering number.

Kathleen Smith, professor of paralegal studies at the Community College of Philadelphia, said the school was elated to host Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito this month for an award ceremony.

he White House forecasts 9 million students would participate in the program. Donald Generals, president of the Community College of Philadelphia and one of many educators who has praised the idea, estimates the initiative would boost the school’s enrollment by 15 percent.

In fact, according to Daniel Gross, director of public affairs for the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges, only one community college — The Community College of Philadelphia — was able to freeze tuition for the current school year.

 

Elizabeth Crutchley

Elizabeth Crutchley is the type of worker cities across the nation are anxious to attract. She is young, enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, and determined to make a difference in her community.

This first-generation college graduate is a product of the pipeline of intellectual talent that flows from city neighborhoods. A native Philadelphian, she is interested in setting down roots here and eliminating local achievement gaps, a phenomenon which stalls economic growth.

“I think a big problem is that a lot of young people move here but when they start families they end up moving away,” said Crutchley, who received an associate’s degree from Community College of Philadelphia in 2010 before transferring to Penn. “I think we need a lot more strong, smart people improving everyone’s lives in the city, not just their own. I think young urban professionals are trying to make a difference in Philadelphia.”

In addition to taking classes at the University of Pennsylvania, she works as a laboratory manager for the Penn Infant Language Center, which studies how speech develops in infants and toddlers. “We basically do observational experiments on them to determine how we acquire language. We study language acquisition and we’re particularly interested in first language acquisition,” she said. Her associate’s degree in Psychology provided a solid foundation for the field.

On track to graduate from Penn in May 2015, Crutchley plans to use her bachelor’s degree in psychology to prepare underprivileged youth to find success in class and in life. “I’ve always been interested in psychology. I took a psychology course in high school and it just really fascinated me,” she said. “I really want to help kids. Hopefully, by learning how we learn language, that will help me improve outcomes for children.”

Community College of Philadelphia plays an important role in the lives of Philadelphians whether the goal is to earn a degree, transfer or secure the cutting-edge skills that lead to career advancement. More than 90 percent of graduates responding to a recent survey reported they had jobs in the city or the region, according to the College’s 2013 Institutional Effectiveness Report. Approximately one-third of Philadelphia high school graduates who are college-bound enroll at Community College of Philadelphia.

Crutchley is one among tens of thousands of students locally who found their path to possibilities here. Born and raised in Olney and Northeast Philadelphia, she was in eighth grade when her parents moved the family to the suburbs. At age 21, the culture, convenience and active lifestyle attracted her, so she moved back to the city. Community College of Philadelphia scored extra points among her college choices because she could bike to classes here. “I think it was all bike lanes from where I lived, and I had heard good things about the professors there,” she added.

Her time spent in community college classrooms produced some pretty unexpected, dividends. “I became a better creative writer there,” she said. “I learned to think scientifically there. It was definitely a great experience.”

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. discussed the importance of citizenship at the College’s 2015 Judge Edward R. Becker Citizenship Award luncheon.

“Good citizenship is not easy,” he told an audience of students, judges, lawyers, business and civic leaders. “It requires hard work.”

Alito, who was the seventh recipient of the Becker Award, spoke on January 15, the actual birthdate of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. The citizenship award, sponsored by the College’s Fox Rothschild Center for Law and Society, honors the late Edward R. Becker (1933-2006), a Philadelphia native, scholar and a highly respected jurist who served with Alito on the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Judge Becker was a civil servant noted for his down-to-earth humility, his ability to connect easily with diverse groups and for upholding the highest standard of the law.

With Judge Becker’s widow, Flora, and his children Susan and Charles seated in the audience in the Great Hall, Alito used Becker’s life to offer guidelines on good citizenship. The Justice laid out five principles that Judge Becker adhered to in living a life as a legal scholar, a family man and a public servant.

PRINCIPLE ONE: HAVE A CONNECTION TO THE PLACE WHER E YOU LIVE

Judge Becker was a Philadelphian who worked hard for the city and its people. Americans today, however, are very mobile and do not live in one place for a very long time, Alito noted. He said this freedom, plus the ease to communicate with anyone in the world via social media is a good thing, but, for many people, the freedom of movement “has become much more important than physical proximity and that can have its downside.”

Alito said, “A number of commentators have made the point in recent years that our country is becoming more stratified (and) that we are losing a common culture that the country is dividing up based on all sorts of things. That, of course, is contrary to what we aspire to as a nation and it is certainly contrary to what Ed Becker stood for.”

PRINCIPLE TWO: REACH OUT TO A DIVERSE GROUP OF PEOPLE

Becker was a one of the finest federal judges in history, Alito said. Yet he made it a point to interact with “real” people by taking public transportation to get to and from work, and using the public entrance of the federal courthouse in Philadelphia, even though there was a private entrance for judges.

Becker was concerned that federal judges were vulnerable to "black robe disease," which “is the thing that happens when you put on the robe of a judge” and receive the constant respect shown to them in court and in public, Alito said to laughter.

PRINCIPLE THREE: REAL CONCERN FOR REAL PEOPLE ENCOUNTERED IN DAILY LIFE

Alito said Becker learned from his father at an early age to “treat people with dignity and consideration.” Becker followed that advice daily. In fact, he read the Philadelphia Daily News, billed as the “people’s paper,” daily to stay abreast of the everyman’s issues and challenges.

"It is sometimes a lot easier to love people in general than it is to love people in particular," Alito noted. "Ed was not like that. He loved both. He had a great concern for people in the abstract but also for the particular people he came in contact with.”

PRINCIPLE FOUR: IMPROVING SPIRIT

Alito remembered Becker as “a man who made a big difference in my life.” He compared Becker’s life of service to others to that of Philadelphian Benjamin Franklin, an inventor, a writer and a signer of the Declaration of Independence who helped to establish the nation’s first lending library.

“As we know, Franklin had a wonderful, pragmatic, problem-solving spirit,” Alito said. “As a young man, Franklin believed that he could rise in the world even though he lacked formal education, family connections, social standing and wealth…If he had of lived a little longer, he might have founded the Community College of Philadelphia.”

PRINCIPLE FIVE: HARD WORK, PUBLIC SERVICE AND STRIVING FOR EXCELLENCE

Alito encouraged the College’s students in attendance to get involved in public service and work hard like Judge Becker. He recalled Becker as "a legendary worker" who read legal briefs during halftime of watching Philadelphia Eagles games and during intermissions at concerts.

"He once gave me this advice about getting a haircut," Alito said. "He said I was wasting time by not working while I was getting a haircut. He said I should tell the barber that when he was trimming the hair on the right side of my head, I could be holding a brief in my left hand and reading it and then we could reverse. I didn’t see that but I fully believe he did it.”

The audience for the Becker Award included people from all walks and stages of life, including Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

Many students clearly understood they had had a front seat to history.

“A lot of people take community college for granted,” Indiana Crousett told a reporter for the Philadelphia Metro. “It’s a pleasure and an honor to have a Supreme Court justice here.”

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