Message from Dr. Belinda S. Miles – November 6, 2015
I was asked to interview for an article on the stigma against community colleges recently published online. When I received the call, I seized the opportunity to advance our cause. The community college sector is a crucial component of higher education in America for many reasons. We offer an affordable pathway to a postsecondary degree. We provide transitions to four-year degrees. We provide workforce training in high-demand career fields. We serve students who otherwise would not have access to higher education. And for a variety of other reasons.
Even still, our sector is misunderstood by a general public that wants to believe that college is something you do by moving away to a university campus for four years immediately after you leave high school. The general public doesn’t fully know the diversity among our students whether measured by race, ethnicity, age, or socioeconomic status. The general public doesn’t fully know the academic rigor of our programs or our level of commitment to earn and retain accreditation. The general public doesn’t fully know how affordable we are or the financial aid available to defray college costs.
Whether we face stigma against community colleges or other adversities like the setback we experienced as a community this week, we shouldn’t let it get us down. We are doing important work, and each and every one of us makes a difference. We are a team supporting each other and our mission to provide accessible, high quality, and affordable education to meet the needs of our diverse community. We must remain strong, focused, and strive for achieving the best possible outcomes for our students. We can take inspiration from our students who we watch struggle with their life circumstances and pull through to achieve their goals. We know that we have faced adversity in the past, and we know we will face it again in the future. Those challenges don’t define us—our response to those challenges make us who we are.
Thanks for being part of Westchester Community College. I’m proud to be here working with you.
Dr. Belinda S. Miles