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“I have always been a voracious reader,” said Knighton. “But whenever I read something bad, I said to myself, ‘I can do better than this.’ So I tried it.”  Knighton’s writing led him to Community College of Philadelphia where he attended English courses.

Contact: Linda Wallace
215-751-8082, liswallace@ccp.edu

PHILADELPHIA, April 14, 2015—Community College of Philadelphia students Kouame Aka and Lizette Lewis have been named to the 2015 All-Pennsylvania Academic Team—an honor that recognizes 44 students for scholarly achievements and community involvement.

Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society and the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges paid tribute to the All-Pennsylvania Scholars on April 13 in Harrisburg, Pa. To be named to the statewide academic team, students must maintain a 3.5 GPA or higher. Team members are eligible for scholarships offered by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education that may be used at any of the system’s 14 universities. The scholarships fund up to two years of tuition in a baccalaureate program.

Aka, 22, who lives in Elmwood Park, is a first-generation college student who came to Community College of Philadelphia as a newly arrived immigrant from the Ivory Coast. An honors student in Science, he maintains a 4.0 grade point average. His plans after graduation are ambitious: earning a PhD in petroleum engineering, becoming a mathematics professor at the College, and working as an engineer. On May 2, he moves a step closer to his goals when he graduates with an associate’s degree in science.

“Graduating from a high school based in a third world country has definitely increased my thirst for a better education,” Aka said. “I grabbed the opportunity to live in the U.S. due to its great reputation for providing access to education.”

Since his second semester at the College, Aka has worked as a mathematics tutor at the College’s math learning lab, helping peers struggling with math to understand the material. “I am very grateful to the mathematics professors I have had at the College,” he said. “They improved my knowledge of math and this made it easy for me to be a tutor. I am positive that the people I have tutored will go on to be great assets to the community.”

A math whiz, Aka recalled his shock when he learned about the high failure rate of students in lower level math classes. To make a change, he rallied several classmates in his advanced math

classes to beef up the lab. “Many of my mates started to join as tutors, and the learning lab started to have the help it needed. I was elated,” he said.

Aka plans to transfer to either Drexel University or Louisiana State University in the fall, where he will major in engineering. “I hope to make a contribution to our society, as well as to ensure my family’s survival,” he said. “My hope is to set the bar high so that along the way, I could inspire my family and friends to work hard, too.”

Lewis, 46, who lives in Holmesburg, enrolled in the College as a longtime licensed practice nurse searching for a change in life. Now an honor student with a 3.86 grade point average, Lewis has received a scholarship from West Chester University, where she will attend this fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree in social work.

Her lifelong interests in community health and education inspire her to succeed and give back to her community. A student in the Culture, Science and Technology program with a concentration in health careers, Lewis says that since enrolling in the College, she has been providing healthy living tips to her church congregation in West Philadelphia every week before Sunday service—an accomplishment she considers her most significant to date in her College career. She shares with her fellow parishioners practical lessons she has learned from her anatomy, physiology, and nutrition classes. Her presentations, she believes, are having a gradual impact.

“They’re learning about the importance of proper nutrition, how it affects the body, what to eat and what not to eat, and the recommended daily allowances,” said Lewis, an assistant pastor who also runs a youth mentoring program at her church. “These instructions are going from the church out to families and the community by word of mouth, and could help improve the overall health status of our community.”

While taking classes, Lewis also leads Delivering Services with Love, a nonprofit organization she founded in 2007 with her husband that prepares and delivers well-balanced meals and distributes clothing to the homeless and elderly. The organization plans to open a food bank in North Philadelphia in the coming months.

“I want to give back to the community by letting them know that there is something else greater out there than public assistance,” said Lewis, herself a former recipient of public assistance. “I want to encourage them to become whatever their hearts desire, while at the same time, I want to help improve the economy by providing jobs for those in need.”

The College will hold its 50th commencement at 10 a.m., on May 2 at the Liacouras Center, 1776 North Broad Street. Kathleen Hetherington, President of Howard Community College in Columbia, Md., and an alumna of Community College of Philadelphia, will deliver the commencement address.

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Contact: Linda Wallace
215-751-8082, liswallace@ccp.edu

PHILADELPHIA, April 24, 2015—As a first-year student at Community College of Philadelphia, Aminata Sy dreamed of transferring to the University of Pennsylvania. An immigrant of Senegal and mother of three—including a seven month old—Sy yearned for a better life.

So at the end of her first year when her English instructor Jill Shashaty asked Sy (pronounced C), a student taking developmental studies, where she wanted to transfer after graduation, her answer was confident: Penn.

“Professor Shashaty looked at me and promised, ‘Okay, when you’re ready, let me know and I’ll write you a reference letter,” she said.

On May 2, Sy, 34, moves one step closer to her dream at the 49th commencement, which begins at 10 a.m. at Temple University’s Liacouras Center, 1776 North Broad Street. And she is Penn-bound. An honor student with a 4.0 grade point average, Sy is graduating with an Associate’s in International Relations and she has been accepted to the University of Pennsylvania, where she will continue her studies this fall. She is one of 2,081 candidates for graduation this year.

“The fact that I will attend the University of Pennsylvania has confirmed to me that dreams do come true and that persistent hard work pays off,” she said.

Sy’s story shows that the path to possibilities can lead to the Ivy League. Between 2005 and 2013, 264 of our former students have transferred to Penn and other Ivy League universities, including Brown, Cornell, Yale, and Harvard universities, according to the College’s Office of Institutional Research. Eighty-nine percent—or 235 of these students—have transferred to the University of Pennsylvania.

Thousands of others have transferred to other area universities during the same period, including Temple University (3,138) Drexel University (1,015), and Penn State University (648).

Less than three years after stepping foot on campus, Sy is proficient in English, French, Fulani, and Wolof—plus an avid student of Spanish. She has developed exceptional journalism chops and wrote for the College’s award-winning student newspaper, The Vanguard, for 17 months. Her long-term career goal is to educate girls and create opportunities for youth employment in Senegal and throughout Africa. A recipient of three College scholarships, Sy credits College faculty like Shashaty and fellow English Professor Ravyn Davis, as well as numerous campus administrators and advisors, for inspiring and encouraging her.

“Community College of Philadelphia has allowed me to discover that my potential is limitless, and it has given me the confidence to pursue any career fearlessly,” she said. “I am excited about all the lives that I will touch both in Africa and the U.S. with a degree in international relations from Penn.”

Joining her at Penn are at least two other students, Michael Novak and Crystal Delmonico. Novak, 38, will graduate with an Associate of Arts (Liberal Arts Honors) and is one of 90 students in the country to receive the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. Delmonico, 37, has drawn strength from her personal struggles—including homelessness—to find purpose in helping at-risk youth. Both have been inducted into Phi Theta Kappa.

 

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Contact: Linda Wallace
215-751-8082, liswallace@ccp.edu

Graduating High School Students and Adult Learners Get on the Fast Track to Success at Future Helping Professionals Open House

What: Graduating high school students and adult learners with a passion for assisting people in need are invited to the Future Helping Professionals Open House at Community College of Philadelphia’s Northwest Regional Center. The event is free and open to the public. Attendees will learn about the popular Behavioral Health and Human Services Program, which students can complete in full at the Northwest Regional Center. Attendees will also learn about the diverse career possibilities in the field from faculty and social service agency leaders, explore the many transfer options beyond the Associate’s degree, and receive information about the Returning to Learning Program, which provides a 25 percent college tuition discount for workers on the City of Philadelphia payroll. Successful college alumni will be on hand to discuss their careers in the field and show what students can achieve after graduating from the program. During the event, attendees can apply to the College and receive their student ID number, enabling them to register for a placement test, if necessary. Refreshments will be provided.

When: Wednesday, June 3, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The public is encouraged to RSVP at http://www.ccp.edu/openhouse.

Where: Community College of Philadelphia’s Northwest Regional Center Lecture Hall, Room 216, 1300 West Godfrey Avenue (between Broad and Godfrey). Parking is free.

Why: Since opening its doors to students in 1965, Community College of Philadelphia has prepared thousands of the City’s counselors, psychologists, social workers, educators, and other helping professionals who have gained expertise for their jobs, pursued a bachelor’s degree and beyond, and become leaders in service provider agencies and organizations serving Philadelphia diverse communities.

 

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Community College of Philadelphia enrolls approximately 34,000 students annually. 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.

Contact: Linda Wallace
215-751-8082, liswallace@ccp.edu

PHILADELPHIA, May 26, 2014—Michael Novak took a learning detour to the Ivy League, one that would allow him to sidestep the crippling debt being accumulated by some of America’s top performing college students.

In May, he earned an Associate’s degree in Arts (Liberal Arts Honors) at Community College of Philadelphia, where his academic performance and 3.9 GPA helped him win one of 90 prestigious Jack Kent Cooke transfer scholarships, which will pay up to $40,000 a year toward his education this fall at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Liberal and Professional Studies. The award will cover a significant share of his expenses—including tuition and fees, living expenses and books—for the two to three years necessary to complete his bachelor’s degree.

Novak, who will receive other forms of aid in addition to the scholarship, estimates that he will have no out-of-pocket costs for his bachelor’s degree. Tuition and fees at Penn’s School of Liberal and Professional Studies can run up to $28,580 for the coming school year.

Along the way, this graduate of Downingtown High School West has become convinced the community college experience is more than just a viable option—it is a richly diverse learning laboratory for students with Ivy League aspirations who wish to gain confidence and strengthen their abilities to compete.

Novak, 39, began attending Community College of Philadelphia in the fall of 2013, fully expecting that the classes would be pretty easy.

“When I started out at the College, I had a chip on my shoulder. I felt like I should have been at Penn,” he recalls.

But it was not long before he was challenged by his professors and classmates in the College’s Honors Curriculum, a program aimed at students who aspire to attend universities like Bucknell, Bryn Mawr, Drexel and Penn. For more than 30 years, the program has helped students strengthen their academic ability and fostered a challenging and rewarding environment for promising scholars, especially those who plan to pursue careers that require a graduate or professional degree.

Honors curriculum alumni have an excellent record of transfer success to respected four-year degree programs. Between 2005 and 2013, 264 of the College’s former students have transferred to Penn and other Ivy League universities, including Brown, Cornell, Yale and Harvard universities, according to official transfer data. Eighty-nine percent—or 235 of these students—have transferred to the University of Pennsylvania.

Novak says the College’s Honors program sharpened his study and interpersonal skills, enabling him to become a more adept thinker who contributed meaningfully to classroom discussions.

“The College Honors program taught me how to read difficult texts, how to write, how to conduct myself in seminar, and how to involve myself in an academic discussion in an intelligent, meaningful and helpful way,” he said. “They model the program on graduate school, and I think it's got to be the best honors program in the country. It's a hidden gem.”

Novak plans to eventually pursue a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies and become a college professor in Japan. The Jack Kent Cooke scholarship—coupled with the affordability of a community college degree—means he will have far greater financial freedom in the future.

“It’s a tremendous honor, but I can’t take all the credit,” said Novak. “If not for the excellent opportunity I received at Community College of Philadelphia, I would not be prepared for Penn, nor do I think I would have earned this scholarship. I owe my future successes to the faculty, staff, and my fellow students at the College.”

Joining Novak at Penn next fall will be Aminata Sy, a mother of three who homeschooled her son while enrolled at the College; Crystal Delmonico, who discovered a passion and ability to help others in need after becoming homeless and recovering from heart surgery; and Wanda Klinefelter, a high school dropout who returned to school to pursue her love for poetry and become a first-generation college student.

 

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To help fill a need for general laborers while assisting local graduating seniors attain higher education, J.P. Mascaro and Sons, the waste management company based in Audubon, has begun a tuition reimbursement program that offers local students the opportunity to work while the company pays them for up to six community college courses per year.

Proponents of the requirement, though, say the state needs to do a better job ensuring that all students are prepared for the modern job market. Giving credence to this point, 70 percent of students at the Community College of Philadelphia need to complete remedial high school-level work before moving on to college-level classes.

Right now, the graduation rate in the city is 65 percent. But based on the current scores on these tests, four out of five students in Philadelphia would need to take an alternative route in order to graduate.

Salus University, the Philadelphia VA Medical Center (PVAMC), Montgomery County Community College (MCCC), Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) and the Department of Defense Hearing Center of Excellence and Vision Center of Excellence have collaborated on a health screening program for student veterans.

Community College of Philadelphia 2015 Retirees Reception

More than 100 well-wishers gathered at the Sandra E. Klein Cube on May 5 to toast and honor 42 retiring faculty and staff members during the 2015 farewell program for retirees.

The audience—which included family, faculty, staff and Foundation board members—noshed on fresh fruit salad, brownies and cookies, and sipped iced tea and lemonade, as vice presidents Judith Gay, Jacob Eapen and Samuel Hirsch, and several staff directors shared stories and heartfelt memories about the many contributions the retirees have made to the College over the past decades.

This year’s retirees hail from a wide range of departments on the Main Campus and the West Regional Center, including Building Maintenance, Diagnostic Medical Imaging, Counseling, Academic Advising, English, Nursing, Biology, and the Controller’s Office. Several of this year’s retirees began their career at the College soon after the College opened its doors to Philadelphia students nearly 50 years ago. They included:

  • Robert Rosenberg, associate professor of Psychology, who began working at the College in 1967. A senior member of the Psychology Department, Rosenberg is widely regarded by students over the years for being approachable and welcoming and was described by Dr. Judith Gay as “an extraordinary citizen of the College.” At the event, he told the audience, “I never intended to retire. I thought the retirement letter was sent by Publishers Clearinghouse. My wife forced me to sign it. The finest people I ever met so far in my lifetime were the ones I met here at Community College of Philadelphia.”
  • Sonia Ochoch, associate professor of Psychology, who is retiring this year after 49 years of service to the College. Dr. Gay lauded Ochoch for being instrumental in developing the curriculum at the College from its early years, and for her pioneering role in teaching night and online classes in psychology. Said Ochoch, “The most interesting thing is I run into students everywhere. They say, ‘Dr. Ochroch, do you remember me?’”
  • Bettie Davis, assistant professor of Marketing and Management, who retires in December after 48 years of service to the College. Davis is a member of the inaugural graduating class of 1967 at the College, where she earned an associate’s degree in Executive Secretary Science before earning a bachelor’s degree at Drexel University and a master’s degree at the University of Scranton. One of the last retirees honored at the celebration, Davis looked out at the packed crowd and said, “Comparing this year’s graduating class to my class, we had 167 students. Now we have 2,000. I’ve seen this place grow. It’s wonderful.”

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