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Vice President Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, will announce the grant program Monday at the Community College of Philadelphia, a school that adopted the tuition-free model championed by the administration last year. Biden and his wife, a professor at Northern Virginia Community College, have advocated for the model, visiting schools and hosting roundtable discussions with elected officials as well as college and business leaders.

Vice President Joe Biden and his wife visited the Community College of Philadelphia today to talk about their hope that — one day — all Americans will have access to a free community college education.

The single best way to strengthen the country is to invest in its students, Vice President Biden told a group of professors, students, and administrators at Community College of Philadelphia on Monday.

On Monday the Obama administration sought to encourage more states and communities to continue expanding tuition-free community college by unveiling a $100 million competition for America's Promise Job-Driven Training Grants. The grants were announced by Vice President Biden at the Community College of Philadelphia.

“What foods are good for your teeth and what foods are bad?”

“What if a baby was born with a tooth? Does that count as its first set of teeth?”

“What other colors can your teeth turn besides green?”

Those were just a sampling of the questions Sandi Fisher’s fifth graders posed to Theresa Grady, Dental Hygiene program director at Community College of Philadelphia, during Grady’s visit to William Cramp Elementary School, located in the city’s Fairhill neighborhood.

The student-reporters interviewed Grady as part of their school’s partnership with Healthy NewsWorks, a Philadelphia-area nonprofit program that empowers student journalists to transform the health of their communities by producing school-based health newspapers, related media and an annual book that profiles area health leaders. The College serves as one of the sponsors of the 2016 book, “Leading Healthy Change in Our Communities 2016,” which will be distributed to schools, libraries, medical offices and other community venues.

Healthy NewsWorks currently partners with 14 public and independent K-8 schools in the Philadelphia region. And, recently, Community College of Philadelphia joined its list of community health collaborators.

The partnership with Healthy NewsWorks allows the College to expand its presence with younger audiences and share the opportunities it provides. Research shows that students who work on school newspapers in high school get better grades, earn higher scores on the ACT and get better grades as college freshmen.

Healthy NewsWorks is reaching these prospective journalists at an even younger age, introducing critical thinking skills that prepare them to live, work and engage as active citizens.

Dr. Warren Hilton, Community College of Philadelphia’s dean of Enrollment Management, said the College’s partnership with Healthy NewsWorks is symbiotic as it gives the College access to Healthy NewsWorks' growing network of children and families and offers “a unique opportunity to target students who will be successful in school,” he said. “So it makes sense.”

The young journalists at Healthy NewsWorks, now in its 13th year, focus on health and wellness issues. This year’s special topic is “Healthy Smiles.” No other allied health program at the College fits that theme better than the Dental Hygiene program, which prepares its students to become oral health clinicians and educators.

The students of Cramp Elementary came to the interview with Grady well prepared, drilling her with their rapid-fire questioning. The veteran educator was right in her element, giving thoughtful replies while sharing her knowledge as an oral health professional.

The students’ eyes widened as Grady, a Community College of Philadelphia graduate, shared that, as a child, she knew she wanted to help others by becoming a dental health professional by extracting the teeth of her friends. “They had loose teeth that were bothering them,” she said. “I used a tissue and my finger. It would bleed a little but that didn’t bother me.”

The Healthy NewsWorks student interview is part of a multi-pronged, collaborative process unlike any in scholastic journalism, said Marian Uhlman, Healthy NewsWorks’ founder and director. Students start by researching the questions they will ask, and then, after interviewing the subject, work to turn out an accurate, informational news story that is of value to their class, their school and the families in their community.

"We are really excited for the opportunity to have our student reporters engage with experts from Community College of Philadelphia," Uhlman said. "The College staff and students were incredibly helpful, well-informed, and inspiring to our young reporters."

From all indications, Grady’s presentation was a huge hit. When she asked students how many were considering a career in dental hygiene, a half dozen hands shot up. Grady then invited the entire class to tour the College, its dental hygiene clinic and talk to its dental hygiene students on the spot. They did, traveling to the College in late March.

Before class was dismissed, however, a student had one final question.

“Is your job important?” the student asked Grady.

“I would like to think so, yes,” Grady replied. “Because I’m helping my students learn and helping people with their teeth. I’m a disease-fighter.”

White House social secretary Deesha Dyer is scheduled to deliver the commencement address at the Community College of Philadelphia on May 7.

A South Philadelphia nonprofit implemented a new solution to poverty and will host several political leaders at a conference Wednesday hoping the dynamic approach sticks.

Contact: Linda Wallace, 215-751-8082, liswallace@ccp.edu
Annette John-Hall, 215-751-8021, anhall@ccp.edu

PHILADELPHIA, April 19, 2016—Deesha Dyer will serve as Community College of Philadelphia’s 2016 Commencement Speaker.

Deesha was unable to join her fellow graduates at Community College of Philadelphia’s 2012 Commencement. She had good reason, however, she was working at the White House, and traveling with President Barack Obama. Deesha finished her degree while still in Washington, DC, completing her final classes online. Four years later, as the White House Social Secretary, she will return to Philadelphia—to pick up her associate’s degree in front of her family and friends and serve as the speaker at Community College of Philadelphia’s 50th Commencement.

Deesha returns to an institution that has supported the President’s College Promise campaign by developing the 50th Anniversary Scholars Program, which offers tuition at no-cost for low-income, qualified students graduating from Philadelphia high schools.

The commencement will take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 7, 2016, at The Liacouras Center, located at 1776 North Broad St.

“I’m very honored to have the chance to come back home and speak at my alma mater. Without Community College of Philadelphia, I would have never made it to the White House. I hope my journey from Community College of Philadelphia to the White House will inspire the graduates to continue to pursue their dreams and use their degrees to better their communities,” said Deesha Dyer.

Deesha DyerAbout Deesha Dyer

Deesha was raised in both Philadelphia and Hershey, where she attended the Milton Hershey School. She started at the White House in 2009, at the age of 31, after applying for an internship in the Office of Scheduling and Advance. She was hired full time in 2010 as the Associate Director for Scheduling Correspondence, and moved on to become the Deputy Director and Hotel Program Director in 2011. In that role, Deesha traveled with the President and First Lady working on press, lodging and site logistics.

She was promoted to Deputy Director and Deputy Social Secretary in 2013. Deesha is currently Special Assistant to the President and White House Social Secretary.

As many Community College of Philadelphia graduates do, Deesha has also maintained a long-standing commitment to community advocacy in several capacities, including her role working with young adults at the Youth Health Empowerment Project, as creator of a hip-hop AIDS program based in Philadelphia, as a CARE advocacy volunteer and as a board member at Action AIDS. She currently volunteers with the homeless community in Alexandria, VA, and mentors young girls for a global empowerment program in Philadelphia. She also serves as a mentor in the First Lady’s mentee program.

 

 About Community College of Philadelphia

Community College of Philadelphia is the largest public institution of higher education in Philadelphia and the sixth largest in Pennsylvania. The College enrolls approximately 34,000 students annually and offers day, evening, and weekend classes, as well as classes online. Visit the College at www.ccp.edu. Follow us on Twitter. Like us on Facebook.

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