Message from Dr. Belinda S. Miles: Bold Transformation – May 14, 2021
May 14, 2021
For 75 years, Westchester Community College has provided affordable, accessible, high-quality education to our community making bold transformations at every turn. Working with regional partners, we have offered programs, degrees, and certificates that prepare graduates to enter the workforce well prepared for middle skills jobs. We have crafted myriad transfer agreements with multiple baccalaureate-granting institutions that provide pathways for graduates to continue their studies beyond the associate degree credential we confer. These workforce and academic opportunities have resulted in transformative economic mobility for students, many who start at lower salary levels and advance to become high wage earners over the course of their careers.
Our curriculum has transformed over the years as faculty have responded to new standards and emerging industry needs. The onset of the pandemic in spring 2020 spurred bold transformation as faculty pivoted to fully remote teaching, learning, and operations. Our staff also lean into our mission-driven work as they help students adapt and succeed under the most challenging circumstances. This is what community colleges do. We assess the landscape, work with our local communities, and assess how we can best prepare students for their next steps.
Bold transformations are abundant throughout Westchester College Community. Our SALT (Strategic Administrative Leadership Team) and EXALT (Executive Action Leadership Team) teams are adapting agile principles to improve our impact, outcomes, and effectiveness. Through Teaching and Learning Brown Bag Lunch events, our faculty are having courageous conversations about culturally inclusive teaching including examination of bias, microaggressions, and anti-racism.
Other bold transformations we’ve experienced just this past week include:
- Our 73rd Commencement welcoming more than 1,200 students, faculty, staff, honored guests, family members and loved ones celebrating the Class of 2021. Commencement speaker, Dr. Shahriar Saadat, WCC Class of 2008, shared a compelling story of arriving at WCC’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program knowing little more than how to write his name. With a Ph.D. from NYU’s School of Engineering, five Master’s degrees, a Bachelor of Science degree, and four degrees and certificates from WCC, Dr. Saadat is currently the Senior Security Design Manager responsible for US-East & LATAM regions at Microsoft Cloud Operations and Innovation in Washington State. HIs journey from Westchester to Washington is certainly a bold transformation!
- Our nursing students receiving their graduating pins, now poised to take their places along the healthcare frontlines.
- A select group of Black and Hispanic students who were awarded PepsiCo Foundation SMILES (Success Matters in Life and Education) Scholarships.
- Westchester Community College Honors College student, Bianca Braun, receiving the prestigious and highly competitive Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship, which she will use at Harvard University where bold transformations will surely continue for her life.
- Our Native Plant Center, promoting use of indigenous plants throughout the county as part of our efforts to contribute to environmental sustainability.
Our new Strategic Plan, launched just prior to the onset of the global pandemic, continues our progress of bold transformations as we work to fulfill Wildly Important & Necessary Goals (WINGS) through 2023 that advance academic innovation and excellence; elevate the student experience; and steward resources to secure our bright future. We are preparing for our next bold transformation – re-emergence from the pandemic and economic recovery where we will lead in preparing the post-pandemic workforce for careers and societal roles that may be done very differently than ever before.
As we begin our summer reading next Friday, let’s build on this theme of Bold Transformation. Please consider submitting articles, TED talks, and other content that we can share with the college community as we continue to learn together and do the collective work of securing our best future.
Dr. Belinda S. Miles