Sept. 16, 2010
Anne Arundel Community College presented the faces of the college’s initiative, Student Success 2020, when it guided Dr. Jill Biden, community college professor and wife of Vice President Joe Biden, and U.S. Department of Education Undersecretary Dr. Martha Kanter around the Arnold campus on Sept. 15. The two dignitaries first participated in a pastry-making session in an intermediate bakery class where students are working toward certificates and degrees in culinary arts. View photo
The next stop of their visit included a roundtable discussion led by AACC President Dr. Martha A. Smith with several students representing diverse ways the college is helping more students become more successful, the key element of Student Success 2020. The students shared personal stories of needing to make career changes, overcoming language and financial barriers and seeking out mentors on campus to help them succeed.
After moving to the United States from Mexico at age 14, Omar Magana, now 32, went straight to work with a full-time job to help support his family and had been unable to complete high school until now. The Owings resident told Biden he would be turning in his last assignment that night to complete his GED and plans to continue his education when finances allow.
When Dr. Biden asked Calvin Diggs, 19, who first came to AACC through the college’s Jump Start program, if he was the first in his family to go to college, the Glen Burnie resident responded, “No, but I’d like to be the first to finish.”
Dr. Biden asked follow-up questions on ways that colleges could help even more. She also recognized that many are trying to balance work and raise families while furthering their education, and praised them for their persistence.
The visit was part of Dr. Biden’s ongoing work to showcase the Obama-Biden Administration’s commitment to supporting America’s community colleges and their students. She will be hosting the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges on Oct. 5. As a lifelong educator and community college instructor for the past 17 years, Dr. Biden knows that community colleges are uniquely positioned to graduate more Americans with the skills that businesses and the economy will need to compete in the 21st century. Over the last year and a half she has visited successful job training and completion programs as well as student support programs at community college campuses throughout the country.