Message from Dr. Belinda S. Miles: Staying on Track
June 10, 2022
At the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Future Leaders and Future Presidents Institute this week, Acting Director of Mental Health & Counseling Services Kristy Robinson and I were special invited presenters addressing the topic of mental health and well-being at community colleges. SUNY Westchester is on the forefront of student mental health as a partner to the JED Foundation and the Steve Fund providing support for students with a range of personal challenges. Session participants provided encouraging responses and affirmed that this is top of mind for current and aspiring community college leaders.
This week’s article provides suggestions on how those of us who are not directly involved in providing counseling can better empathize with students. While the article is written for faculty members, it may be of interest to anyone who is able to help students develop resilience and endurance and stay on track toward their academic and career goals.
There was an abundance of evidence for staying on track to goal attainment at last evening’s Westchester EOC (Educational Opportunity Center) graduation, the first in-person celebration since the beginning of the pandemic, culminating EOC’s 49th year and honoring three graduating classes. The ceremony’s theme, “And Still We Rise,” was captured in the words of student, alumna, and keynote addresses. The alumna, Cornella Walker, demonstrated SUNY’s commitment to providing pathways to and through college. Ms. Walker improved her academic skills in SUNY ATTAIN Lab so that she could enroll in the High School Equivalency program at EOC, and upon completion of College Prep, she enrolled in a degree program at WCC through EOP (Educational Opportunity Program). She is now a WCC graduate and will be starting her bachelor’s degree at Mercy College in the Fall. In her Keynote address, Dr. Ilyasah Shabazz, conveyed a message of unity, love for self and others, and education as she recounted the teachings of her parents, which are still so very relevant today. Student speaker Sheila Benitez, a graduate of Certified Medical Administrative Assistant, EKG, and Phlebotomy programs, shared her journey from EOC training to her current role as a Clinical Research Coordinator and Clinical Investigator, a job she never knew existed that has now transformed her life and career path.
Congratulations to our EOC graduates – 70 received High School Equivalency Diplomas, CTE (Career and Technical Education) students received over 500 industry certifications, and seven students received WEOC Pathways scholarships to attend SUNY Westchester. Another spectacular class of #VikingStrong students!
Dr. Belinda S. Miles