Wingspan, Fall 2023
Did you know that one out of every 33 jobs in Maryland is supported by the activities of Maryland’s community colleges and their students, according to the Maryland Association of Community Colleges? Maybe that’s why it’s no surprise when faculty and staff run across former students around the county. It’s not just AACC’s grads who are visible in the community, though. Through its programs, support services and partnerships, AACC works closely with the community every day.
Nurses, medical technicians and other health science students get hands-on training in area hospitals and clinics, putting them right at the heart of the community. Upon graduation, many students are offered employment and choose to stay. The next time you’re in the doctor’s office, ask if any AACC graduates work there.
"I think one of the most helpful things, especially with the program that I'm at right now, has been the amount of clinic sites that we get to go to. ... It's been a lot of variety, and it definitely helps you to get prepared for all sorts of different scenarios.”
- Oliver Santos Hammer, Radiologic Technology program student
"I am proud of the work our students do in the classroom and in the community. Most of our Health Science programs have a clinical, practicum or fieldwork requirement. This means our students apply what they learned in an agency or health care facility right here in Anne Arundel County.”
- Elizabeth Appel, M.S.W., dean School of Health Sciences
The Sarbanes Center for Career and Civic Engagement partners with employers, nonprofits, schools and government organizations to enhance student learning beyond the classroom and to help students apply what they have learned to real-world scenarios. Service-learning and the career center help meet the community’s workforce and volunteer needs.
"When working with the community, the first thing we do is listen. We can only collaborate and respond appropriately when we truly understand the needs of nonprofit organizations and employers from their perspective.”
- Cathy Doyle, director, Sarbanes Center for Career and Civic Engagement
"Service Learning helped me utilize my research and communication skills when it came to reaching out and connecting with various organizations. … As a future public health professional, this experience will be similar to the experience and work I will do for local communities.”
- Alison Bush, service-learning student, Good Neighbors Group
One of AACC’s biggest partnerships is with Anne Arundel County Public Schools, and that partnership goes both ways. In fact, at the end of 2022, the Education Foundation of Anne Arundel County Public Schools recognized AACC as a "Partner of the Year." AACPS and AACC continue to work together to provide even more opportunities for high school students to test the waters and prepare for their future careers at no cost through the Maryland Blueprint and the Early College Access Program (ECAP). Some students even come full circle to live, work and teach in the county.
"I will always cherish my time as a teacher, but my favorite achievement stems from my work supporting AACPS Signature Programs, a unique program that develops college and career experiences for high school students, through a community-specific lens. ... We were able to bring college-level courses such as BIO-215 (Restoration Ecology) to high school students, targeting our outreach to first-generation and underserved student populations. As STEM/SI coordinator, it is my plan to expand and strengthen the bridge between AACPS and AACC, channeling high school students toward undergraduate research, mentoring and internship opportunities.”
- Matt Bem, STEM/SI coordinator, former Broadneck High School science teacher
"Since I was still in high school, it was probably the best way for me to actually figure out what college looked like and how that was going to look like for me. I think it gave me a good understanding of what to expect once I went off to the university.”
- Kasey Thomas, former ECAP student, current PIO for the Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management
Every spring, AACC runs a Volunteer Tax Assistance Program (VITA) to help members of the community file their taxes. VITA is a free, volunteer-based program through the IRS that supports individuals and families with an annual income of less than $60,000. Last year, AACC volunteers, comprised of students, faculty and community members, completed and filed 255 tax returns, resulting in $288,496 in federal tax refunds and $109,540 in state tax refunds for members of our community.
"VITA is a great resource for our students as it allows them to practice skills they develop in classrooms, as well as the community who appreciate the support our volunteers provide. Besides filing their tax returns, our volunteers explain returns to clients and help them understand what each number on their tax return means. Our clients represent the underserved, most vulnerable members of our community, those who are affected by increasing prices on goods and services the most. We want them to know that we are here for them, and we are here to support them and to give back, in the way that we can – with the free preparation of their tax returns.”
- Oksana Fisher, CPA, MBA, assistant professor of business administration, VITA program coordinator
"I think having a program like this is wonderful and fantastic for the income level of clientele, especially students and retired citizens. Regarding students, they’re paying for college tuition, or someone in their family is, so it’s vital that they have this opportunity to get their taxes done without charge. It's also a wonderful way to impart financial literacy knowledge to folks.”
- Michael Stolarczyk, 2023 VITA volunteer
The partnerships and actions highlighted here are just a fraction of the ways AACC serves the community. From the facilities (come for a run on campus), services (Truxal Library is open to Anne Arundel County residents) and programs (AACC credit courses are tuition free for seniors), AACC strives to live up to its title of “the community’s college.