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Who Benefits the Most from “Free” College Tuition? (Article from the Star Tribune)

Posted on: January 29th, 2015 by insidemctc No Comments

This article was published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Jan. 28, 2015. Read the full story here.

Who benefits the most from ‘free’ college tuition?

Article by: MAURA LERNER , Star Tribune | Updated: January 28, 2015

Thulani Jwacu understands the power of the word “free.”

When he makes his pitch to low-income teenagers, he can see their eyes light up.

If they go to community college, he tells them, “you don’t have to worry about paying for tuition.”

That, he said, is when they start paying attention.

As an adviser at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Jwacu said he’s thrilled that politicians are starting to talk about making community college free for all.

In practice, more than 30,000 community college students in Minnesota already qualify for enough government assistance to pay their tuition and fees in full, according to state data. In 2013, that meant about a third of the freshmen at those colleges essentially got their education “for free.”

If the sticker price at Minnesota community colleges — about $5,400 a year — dropped to zero, advocates say, that would inspire even more people to get a college education.

But experts caution that free tuition isn’t enough to guarantee success; and that such a change could end up doing more for well-off families than needier ones.

“The irony is that it would probably benefit middle- and upper-income people,” said John (Chuck) Chalberg, a history teacher at Normandale Community College. “They’re the ones that aren’t getting the aid, and now they would.”

The proposals, which were floated recently by the White House and Senate DFL leaders in Minnesota, are both designed to lower the barrier to college, says Sara Goldrick-Rab, a University of Wisconsin professor who is credited with inspiring President Obama’s plan, estimated to cost $6 billion a year.

“Yes, community college tuition is virtually free for very poor people right now,” she acknowledged. But “middle-class [students] are dropping out of college at higher rates than ever before. So helping middle-class kids … is not a bad thing.”

At the same time, she’s skeptical that community colleges, which draw a disproportionate number of low-income students, would suddenly be flooded with the wealthy.

DFL Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, the sponsor of the free-tuition proposal in the Minnesota Senate, said his goal is to nudge students who think they can’t afford college, especially in low-income and rural areas, to give it a try.

One option, he said, may be to include a cap on family income.

Gov. Mark Dayton did not include free community college tuition in his budget proposal this week. Instead, he withheld any recommendation on a funding increase for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities until March, in hopes that administrators and faculty leaders resolve a dispute over a strategic plan for the system, which includes state community colleges.

Since 2006, the community colleges in Minneapolis and St. Paul have offered free tuition to high school graduates in both cities through a program called Power of You, which is limited to families earning $75,000 or less. At first, both two-year colleges saw a surge in enrollment; but only 8 percent of those students had finished three years later, a 2009 Wilder Foundation study found.

As a result, the colleges began working even more intensively with those students, said Kristine Snyder, the dean in charge of the program at MCTC. “We make them come in three times a semester,” she said. Advisers spend a lot of time coaching them on what they need to do to finish — or transfer — on time.

With all the extra attention, the graduation rate has crept up, to 13 percent. But more important, Snyder says, students are sticking with the program, and making progress toward their degrees.

Many of those students, she noted, wouldn’t have attempted college in the past. “Everyone is worried because we need a skilled labor force,” she said. To her, free tuition is a way to meet that need.

“I think all these kinds of conversations help to shift the narrative of who college is for, and why.”

Maura Lerner • 612-673-7384

MCTC Students Talk Diversity at Itasca Community College

Posted on: January 27th, 2015 by insidemctc No Comments

MCTC students at ICCMembers of the MCTC African American Education Empowerment Program (AME) and MCTC Director of Diversity Whitney Harris were invited to visit Itasca Community College (ICC) earlier this month for a day of professional development.

Representatives from ICC had visited MCTC’s AME program last semester, and invited Dr. Harris and the students to speak in light of increasing enrollment of students of color at ICC.

MCTC students from the AME program delivered presentations to ICC faculty and staff and participated in panel discussions addressing teaching in diverse classrooms and managing institutional diversity.

During the panel, MCTC AME student Michael Elliot encouraged ICC faculty and staff to use the experiences each student brings to the classroom as learning opportunities.

“You have to be aware of the needs of your diversifying student population,” Elliot said.

Harris believes both the MCTC AME students and ICC faculty and staff learned from each other by having the opportunity to share their knowledge and stories.

“The students were able to integrate what they had learned at MCTC through their own experiences and teach these college employees about it,” Harris said.

MCTC AME student and tutor Jeodaun Lee described the experience as “a slice of humble pie.” “They rolled out the red carpet for us and wanted to learn,” he said.

“ICC was very receptive of what we had to offer in the realm of diversity and administrative and faculty connection to the student body,” said Elliot.

AME is expected to make a return to ICC in the spring to hold a similar conversation with students.

Photo: The MCTC delegation at Itasca Community College on a frigid January day. From left to right: Michael Elliot, Clay Bradbury, Ronnie Russell-Bey, Jeodaun Lee, Whitney Harris

MCTC, Augsburg & Others to Diversify Teacher Workforce

Posted on: December 23rd, 2014 by marketingworkstudy No Comments

Bush_GrantSTORYMinneapolis Community and Technical College will collaborate with Augsburg College, Minneapolis Public Schools and Saint Paul Public Schools to utilize funds from a recent Bush Foundation grant to build educational infrastructure that intentionally recruits teacher candidates of color, improves their clinical experiences while training, and supports their smooth transition into a teaching career.

“Currently, about 97 percent of teachers in Minnesota are white,” said Kristy Snyder, dean of Academic Foundations. “MCTC has a strong record of engaging future teachers of color in our culturally competent teacher education program to prepare them for their future classrooms. Around 60 percent of students in MCTC’s educational programs are students of color. This grant encourages creative ways to recruit and retain teacher candidates of color, and because of that, Augsburg reached out to us to collaborate with them.”

This effort to recruit and support teacher candidates of color comes amidst the climate of teacher shortages in areas like special education and ESOL, and also in light of a large portion of the state teacher population approaching retirement age. The grant will strengthen the existing connection between MCTC’s two-year program and transfer opportunities to Augsburg while providing supplementary support to candidates to ensure their success as new teachers.

“The program at MCTC is very focused on cultural competency,” said Snyder. “For this reason, we currently attract many teacher candidates of color. By strengthening our articulation agreement with Augsburg, we strengthen the incentive for candidates to complete MCTC’s program, transfer and be placed.”

“Our greater goal is to utilize our community resources to close the state’s achievement gap,” said Snyder. “This is the perfect opportunity to make use of the talent and experience in our own communities.”

MCTC will host a Future Teacher Conference on March 7 for individuals interested in learning more about MCTC’s educational programs. Registration will be available soon on the Minneapolis Public Schools website.

Nursing Alumni Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Posted on: December 1st, 2014 by marketingworkstudy No Comments
Nursing

Students in MCTC’s Nursing program.

Mpls.St.Paul Magazine awarded MCTC nursing alumni Be Ho a Lifetime Achievement Award for her more than 30 years of work in the field. Be earned her associate degree in Nursing at MCTC in the 1980s shortly after her time as a nurse in the Vietnam War, and is currently working with Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Read her full story on the Children’s Hospital blog.

 

Nurse with inspirational story receives lifetime achievement award

By Erin Keifenheim

Be Ho, staff RN, surgery, knew she wanted to be a nurse when she was 4½ years old, yet she never imagined that following her dream would lead her on a journey to flee her home country and start a new life halfway around the world. Now celebrating her 34th year at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, Be recently was named the 2014 Lifetime Achievement winner in the annual Mpls.St.Paul Magazine Outstanding Nurses awards for her amazing nursing skills and perseverance to follow her dream.

Be’s inspirational story starts in Vietnam, where she was born. When her father had abdominal surgery in the French-run hospital there, Be was mesmerized by the French nurses with their blue eyes, long eyelashes and surgical gowns, and the kindness they showed her family. She knew from that moment that she would become a nurse someday. At the age of 9, she pleaded with her parents to send her to nursing school. She cried so much that they finally arranged a meeting for her with the director of a local hospital. He convinced her to hold off on becoming a nurse until she was old enough. Finally, when Be was 17, she couldn’t wait any longer.

“At that time, nursing was looked down on as a career,” Be said. “Girls were supposed to stay at home. Nurses were viewed as the ones who did the dirty work – changing diapers and cleaning wounds. I didn’t dare tell my family I was applying for nursing school.”

Instead, Be lied to her parents, telling them she was going to visit her cousin in the capital, but she actually took the entrance exam for nursing school. Three months later, she didn’t have the heart to sneak away again to find out the results. However, her neighbor had gone to see the results of his fiancée’s exam and saw Be’s name on the list. He came over to congratulate her, thus breaking the news to her parents. Her mother cried and was resistant, but her father persuaded her to allow Be to go to nursing school – he knew she would be a wonderful nurse; he was right. Be went on to graduate second in her class. And because she always knew she wanted to work with children, she took a job at a children’s hospital in Saigon. She eventually went on to become the hospital’s director of nursing.

In 1968, Be received a scholarship to travel to England for intensive nursing care training. In 1972, she visited Minneapolis with a group of young patients who needed open-heart surgeries. The Children’s Heart Fund, now Children’s HeartLink, sponsored her to escort the patients and care for them while they were here. During that trip, she formed relationships with the staff at Children’s – Minneapolis who thought very highly of her and recognized her potential.

Back in Vietnam, the war was continuing. Because Be had traveled outside the country multiple times, the communist leaders suspected her of being a spy.

“Every week I had to write an essay to the communist government saying that I was the country’s enemy,” Be said. “One day I was brave enough to ask why I was being forced to write these letters. They told me ‘because you are such a good nurse.’ It was very hard for me to say I was an enemy when all I wanted to do was provide nurturing and loving nursing care – just like the French nurses I saw as a child.”

Eventually, Be became worried about her future in Vietnam. Her colleagues at Children’s Heart Fund attempted to evacuate her in 1975, but she couldn’t bear to leave without saying goodbye to her family. Though she feared for her life, she said a tearful goodbye to her friends and remained in Vietnam. A few years later, she knew it was time to escape. She contacted her U.S. colleagues for assistance, under the guise that she needed to have open-heart surgery in Japan.

“I had to lie again to escape Vietnam. If I was caught, I would be sent to a concentration camp,” Be said. “I told the hospital I was working for that my grandmother was dying, when she had actually died before I was born.”

Arrangements were made for Be to travel by boat to a refugee camp in Thailand.

“I had to leave without saying goodbye to my family. I wanted to protect them in case the communist government came looking for me. I wrote a letter to my dad and left. It was very scary,” she said. “I didn’t know anyone. It was getting dark. We had to hide under coconut leaves on the boat to disguise ourselves from the communist police who were chasing us. When we finally made it to international waters, I was so happy I cried.”

Be spent five months in the refugee camp, where she worked as a clinic nurse and as a translator for the U.S. delegation. It was there that she also met her now husband, who found her in the crowd of new arrivals and arranged for her to have a place to sleep. While the camp provided safety, she knew there was more out there for her, and soon she was sponsored to work in the U.S. In August of 1980, Be arrived in Minnesota.

“I knew I wanted to work at Children’s Hospital,” Be said. “It was a place of comfort for me. I talked with the director of nursing, but because my nursing papers and transcripts were thrown overboard by pirates during my escape, I had no official paperwork. They hired me as a nursing assistant in the PICU, and I was so grateful.”

With the help of a Children’s scholarship, Be went back to school full time and got her associate’s degree in nursing from Minneapolis Community and Technical College. She was then hired as a registered nurse at Children’s and worked on 4 East (now the sixth floor), before eventually transferring to surgery.

Be is now the urology team leader in the surgery department and works with surgeons and staff to make sure they have the instruments and supplies needed for a variety of surgeries. She works to onboard new surgery nurses in urology and across other services, too.

“With every patient she works with, Be is calm, comforting and compassionate,” said Pat Buzzell, patient care manager for the surgery department. “She takes care of the whole family, reassures them and educates them so surgery isn’t a scary experience. She comes in on her days off to conduct patient family tours, and she often stays late to check in on patients. She does whatever it takes to make families comfortable, using her cheerful personality to calm their fears and put them at ease.”

Be still has a deep love for Vietnam and returns there on medical missions to provide care for children at the hospital where she used to work. She has recruited Children’s surgeons and staff to join her on these trips, where they provide education to medical teams and perform surgeries.

“Be gives everything to her patients, whether they are here or in Vietnam,” Pat said. “She works tirelessly to advocate for them, and she doesn’t give up. Because of the journey she has had and how hard she has worked to get here, Be refuses to settle for anything less than perfection. She believes in hard work and practice and has earned the respect of the surgeons, anesthesiologists and all staff on our unit. Be says it’s an honor to work with kids – I say it’s an honor to work with Be.”

Now almost 70 and pondering when to retire, Be gets emotional when she thinks about potentially leaving Children’s – her second home.

“I am so grateful to Children’s Hospital for all they have done for me,” she said. “Without them, I wouldn’t be here now. This country took me in, but this hospital gave me a second chance for my life. I love Children’s Hospital from the bottom of my heart.”

Biotechnology Program Named Finalist for Tekne Awards

Posted on: September 22nd, 2014 by marketingworkstudy No Comments

TekneBiotechSTORYThe Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) named Minneapolis Community and Technical College’s Biotechnology Program as one of 36 finalists for the 15th annual Tekne Awards, which will be held on Thursday, Nov. 13 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

The program is a finalist in the workforce development award category, which honors innovative approaches to training workers in transition or youth with technology skills and successfully matching them to jobs that meet the needs of Minnesota companies. Other category finalists include Creating IT Futures Foundation (Downers, IL) and Genesis 10 (St. Paul).

“For 15 years, the MHTA has honored the technological innovators of Minnesota,” said Margaret Anderson Kelliher, president of MHTA. “We’re delighted to see such a fantastic display of technological advancements this year, and are proud to shine a light on our state’s outstanding science and technology industry.”

Finalists will gather to be recognized for their vast achievements in the state’s tech-based economy. The finalists span twelve categories recognizing the organizations, products and leaders driving technological innovation locally. The Tekne Awards honor those who have played a part in discovering new technologies impacting the lives and futures of people living in Minnesota and all over the world.

“MCTC’s biotechnology program is interdisciplinary, leading to multiple career paths and diverse higher education opportunities, serving biotech students and science majors. We are very grateful to MCTC and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities support for making this happen,” said Chemistry and Biotechnology faculty Rehka Ganaganur.

This nomination comes two years after the College announced a biotechnology partnership with the University of Minnesota and Ganganur recognizes how local academic and industry partners have come together to make Biotechnology a unique, award-worthy program.

“Minnesota’s scientific industry, and the universities of higher education including the University of Minnesota have made the program robust through extending a wide range of partnerships, transfer of courses, equipment, internships, jobs, scholarships and research opportunities,” said Ganaganur. “We also thank the LifeScience Alley, BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic, and national centers of bioscience such as the BioLink and Cold Spring Harbor Labs, for all the support and partnerships they have provided in many ways.”