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Mon 19

A new team of academic advisors will work exclusively with freshman students at Community College of Philadelphia starting in September.

Before assigning full-time faculty members as advisors, CCP only met with students who dropped in. Now, the student caseload will be split among seven new advisors, all experienced in advising students in high school and college settings. All hold master’s degrees in their respective fields.

A group of recent high school grads wrapped up a six week program at U-Penn that prepped them for college. It’s called “College Bridge.” Funded by the Netter Center and Philly Youth Network, the program puts recent graduates from West Philadelphia and Sayre High Schools through the rigors of college life.

“Teachers are a big influence,” says David Diamond, who graduated from WPH and is headed to Lockhaven University. He says career training programs helped him figure out his goals in life and believes they should be expanded to help curb the drop out rate. “It would help students actually find out what they want to do,” he says, “that would keep them in school and motivated.”

Diamond says he plans to study computer science and then go into the US Air Force. Kiara Lights, a Sayre grad, says he goal is to become a nurse and then a mid-wife after she graduates from Community College of Philadelphia.

Community College of Philadelphia plans to build bridges to increase communication and collaboration between adjunct and full-time instructors.

The new initiative is supported by $2.3 million in funding from philanthropists and a private education fund, with a team from CCP starting work last week, participating in a launch event at Evergreen State College, in Olympia, Wash. The effort is led by Achieving the Dream, Inc., a comprehensive non-governmental reform movement for student success.

Student success initiatives tend to work better on campuses where faculty members are engaged.

So Achieving the Dream, the nonprofit organization that advocates for institutional improvement at community colleges, is unveiling a new initiative that will help part-time faculty members become more active in their colleges' reform efforts, with the help of full-time faculty.

ATD is piloting the two-year initiative at six colleges -- Harper College in Illinois, the Community College of Baltimore County, Patrick Henry Community College in Virginia, Delta College in Michigan, the Community College of Philadelphia and Renton Technical College in Washington state.

On July 30, more than 50 student runners and their mentors crossed the finish line at Community College of Philadelphia, concluding a five-mile run and college tour that introduced many of them to the College for the first time.

The “Run to College Tour” was conceived by the staff of Students Run Philly Style (SRPS), a local nonprofit made up of runners from middle and high schools throughout the city, which helps students increase their capacity for success through mentoring and distance running. SRPS typically schedules training runs to prepare for November’s Philadelphia Marathon and Half Marathon, but its partnership with the College and Temple University allowed students the added bonus of touring college campuses while getting in their training.

Braving oppressive heat and humidity, the student runners and their took off from City Hall, ran three miles north to Temple, then two more miles south to the Main Campus in the Spring Garden area. Once they reached their final destination, Diane Kae, manager of the College’s Student Outreach and Recruitment, and her team rewarded them and with ice cold bottles of water, protein bars and gifts.

The runners, some of whom said they had only seen the campus while passing by on the bus or walking to the subway, were impressed with the surroundings.

“This is a nice campus,” said Tavionn Taylor, a 17-year-old senior from Bodine High School for International Affairs as he surveyed 17th Street. “A lot of my friends go here, but this is my first time here.”

When Taylor mentioned he was unsure where he wanted to attend college next year, Kae gave him a packet of information and suggested he consider community college with lower tuition and multiple paths for transfer. “You can be earning credits here while you’re trying to decide,” she told him.

“It’s nice to bring students on campus early,” Kae said. “We want to let them know that the College welcomes and supports them.”

SRPS running mentors Malachi Shell and Le Roy Miles also pitched the value of community college to the students, and for good reason. Both Shell (Class of 2006) and Miles (Class of 2009) graduated from the College before earning baccalaureate degrees.

“Community College of Philadelphia is one of the city’s best-kept secrets,” said Shell, who received a B.S. in accounting at Temple. “I loved my professors here. Plus it’s affordable. It definitely has its perks – and it also has best Jamaican food truck in the city!”

Seven New Advisors, More Offerings at Community College Of Philadelphia to  Support And Enrich The Learning Experience

Front Row, l-r: Erika Vega, Sherice Chevannes, Madeline DeBot.  Back Row, l-r: Stephanie Graves, Kimberly Harris, Kathryn Birster, Jason RoscoeAs new students enter the College for the 2016-2017 academic year, they will be welcomed by new academic advisors whose sole job is to guide them toward their educational  goals.

The advisors are one of several new programs and initiatives Community College of Philadelphia has implemented this fall to strengthen student success and enrich the learning experience.

President Donald Guy Generals, upon taking the helm of the College in 2014, saw the need for full-time faculty dedicated to help students with prudent course selection, planning and, when needed, interventions to get them back on track.

These seven new full-time advisors are in a new department, dedicated exclusively to student retention, persistence and success. They will work with first year-students enrolled in the larger curriculum majors such as Liberal Arts.

"Faculty academic advisors are a critical link for Community College of Philadelphia students," said Dr. Joan L. Bush, dean of Educational Support Services. "The relationship between a faculty academic advisor and a student involves assisting them in exploring, questioning, planning and implementing strategies to achieve their academic and career goals."

Prior to this year, part-time and full-time faculty handled advising on a drop-in basis. This year, each advisor will have a dedicated student caseload, Dr. Bush said. "They'll be able to get to know the student, follow them, track them and intervene so it will be a very proactive approach," she said.

The new advisors are already at work, preparing for the arrival of students. They are:

Kathryn Birster – Birster spent the last decade working with students in the College's Gateway to College program, which offers an educational option for youth who left high school but now want a second chance. Previously, she served as a secondary school guidance counselor in Philadelphia. She graduated from The College of New Jersey with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She also has a Master of Science in Education in Psychological Services from the University of Pennsylvania.  

Sherice Chevannes – Chevannes comes to the College from Temple University, where she served as an academic advisor. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Westfield (Mass.) State University. She also has a Master of Education in Student Personnel Administration from Springfield College (Mass.). Chevannes also previously served as a first year student academic advisor at Nichols College (Mass.).

Madeleine DeBot – DeBot worked as an academic advisor at the College of Education at Temple University as well as an academic mentor at the University of Michigan. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English, Computer Applications from the University of Notre Dame (Ind.) She also holds a Master of Arts in Higher Education from the University of Michigan.

Stephanie Graves – Graves served as an academic advisor in the Fox School of Business at Temple University, and at the University of Akron, within the learning and advising centers for Student-Athlete Academic Services. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Education – Sports Studies and a Master of Science in Higher Education Administration from the University of Akron (Ohio).

Kimberly Harris – Harris was an academic advisor at Anne Arundel Community College, Prince George's Community College (Md.), Peirce College, and John Tyler Community College (Va.). She also served as student disabilities coordinator while at Peirce College. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a Master of Education in Specialization in Guidance and Counseling from Virginia State University.

Jason Roscoe – Roscoe served as an academic advisor at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, University of the Sciences, and Lehigh Carbon Community College (Pa.). He also worked as coordinator of minority mentoring/interim director of TRiO Student Support Services at Mansfield. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and holds a Master of Science in Education from Mansfield. He is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Higher Education.

Erika Vega – Vega, who is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Higher Education Administration at Northeastern University, previously worked as a student development specialist /coordinator of instructional support at Ramapo College of New Jersey's Educational Opportunity Fund Program. She also served as a coordinator for the City University of New York (CUNY) Brooklyn College-Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Africana and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies from City University of New York-Hunter College, and a Master of Science in Education in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania.

In addition to the new, fulltime advisors, this fall the College is unveiling initiatives designed to accelerate the journey from high school to college, and provide state-of-the-art training connecting students with advanced manufacturing, a target, high-growth industry.  New programs include:

  • MC2 Dual Enrollment Program  This partnership between MaST Community Charter School and the College will allow students to graduate high school with a diploma and an associate's degree in Business. A total of 12 MaSt students will be taking college-level classes at the Northeast Regional Center, six of whom are juniors returning for a second year of college-level classes and six who are beginning the dual enrollment program. Participating students take their high school classes at MaST and are transported by bus to the regional center for their college studies. "Joining this program was one of the greatest decisions I've ever made," said Sabrina Fiocca, a returning student. "Even though it is lots of hard work, we're learning at the college level. I feel as though the most important benefits are the ones that come in the end, when we will graduate with an associate's degree in business."
  • Advanced Manufacturing Program The College will offer three technical skills training programs Welding Technology, CNC Precision Machining Technology and Electro-Mechanical/Mechatronics Technology  that will prepare student for various advanced manufacturing career pathways. This job training initiative provides skills to help people advance in robust economic sector. Classes will be held evenings and on Saturdays at Benjamin Franklin High School.
  • First Year Experience Course First-year students will be introduced to ideas and strategies required for college-level success, including critical thinking, cultural competence and institutional knowledge. Students create an appropriate academic plan, financial plan and career/transfer plan in the course of the semester.

Community College of Philadelphia is the largest public institution of higher education in Philadelphia and the sixth largest in Pennsylvania. The College enrolls approximately 31,000 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.com/CCP.edu. Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ccp.edu

The idea of free community college has gradually moved to the forefront of the higher education debate. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both agree that college tuition should be free for families making under $125,000, and Clinton has made the initiative part of the official Democratic Party platform.

While the Democrats hashed out their ideas at the Democratic National Convention in South Philadelphia, Community College of Philadelphia and the College Promise Campaign hosted a special screening of “No Greater Odds,” a documentary that highlighted the stories of five community college students at the College of Southern Nevada (CSN) as they overcame challenges faced by students who pursue higher education.

Following the screening, Dr. Donald Guy Generals, president of Community College of Philadelphia, joined Mary Cathryn Ricker, executive vice president, American Federation of Teachers; Michael Flores, communications and government affairs director, College of Southern Nevada; , Patrick Wirtz, the documentary’s director; and Christopher Cabaldon, Mayor of West Sacramento, for a panel discussion  that underscored the important relationship between community colleges and the actual communities they serve.

“Some of the issues we’ve seen daily through the news relative to our politics, relative to our policies, relative to our social engagement, relative to our economy—all have answers and solutions in what community colleges do,” Dr. Generals said. “For those who are disadvantaged and ostracized to the marginal parts of our society, it is the community colleges that make the difference.”

Community College of Philadelphia, along with other community colleges across the country, is making strides towards a more affordable, universal model. Last year, Community College of Philadelphia introduced its 50th Scholars program, which offsets the remaining tuition balances for incoming Philadelphia high graduate students who qualify.

According to the College Promise Campaign, the average college graduate accumulates $28,000 in student loans. The increasing tuition costs cause low-income families and first-generation college students to lag behind in college enrollment by over 30 percent, compared to their higher income peers.

The College Promise Campaign is focused on driving non-partisan public support to make the first two years of community colleges across the nation as universal, free, and accessible as high school.

“We have to look at the importance, the public good aspects of community colleges, relative to our democracy, our economy, and our way forward as a nation,” Dr. Generals said.

The focus on student success begins long before students actually enroll in college. More and more students are gaining an edge by participating in dual enrollment programs.

On July 14,  nearly 100 higher education practitioners from across the region came together to share best practices in the first-ever Mid Atlantic conference on dual enrollment sponsored by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) and Community College of Philadelphia.

Conference-goers shared information about their policies and programs, funding models and recent innovations and trends. They eagerly exchanged strategies because they all had one goal in common: creating a more effective academic bridge between high school and college for students.

Dr. David E. Thomas, associate vice president for Strategic Initiatives and dean of the College’s Division of Access and Community Engagement (DACE), declared the day-long conference a “smashing success,” and thanked College organizers for their hospitality and “making a positive lasting impression.”

The College serves an average of 1,000 students who are part of dual enrollment programs, including early and middle college programs, such as Gateway to College, Master Charter Schools @ CCP and the Early College Program, its new partnership with MaST Community Charter School, which operates out of the College’s Northeast Regional Center.

For students like Jalil Ross, the Gateway to College program allowed him to get back on track toward achieving his academic goals.  “I was tired of failing, tired of things not working,” said Ross, 20, who entered the program after dropping out of high school during his junior year.

He went on to earn his diploma while earning college credits toward an associate’s degree. “Being in this program has completely changed how I operate in school. I wanted something to work,” Ross said. “This works.”

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

WHAT: Just in time for back to school, members of the International Student Association (ISA) of Community College of Philadelphia will give away 200 ready-to-go backpacks to incoming first-graders to culminate their ‘Put a Pack on that Back” community service project. ISA students collected the backpacks and supplies throughout the 2015-2016 school year and will distribute them in partnership with Star Parker, a Community College of Philadelphia student who is founder and director of Philly Unite, a local nonprofit that seeks to address the city’s health and wellbeing though community service and performance art projects School supplies will also be available for students in higher grades.

WHEN: Noon to 4 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 27

WHERE: Olney Recreation Center, 6001 A. Street, Philadelphia Pa. 19120



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.