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Sylvania Program Completion Ceremonies
Photos and Story by Deborah Crawford
Leading up to Portland Community College’s graduation on June 14 is what can be called “completion ceremony season” at the Sylvania Campus.
The non-stop series of celebrations highlights the accomplishments of students who participate in a variety of projects and roles with student service centers and programs throughout the academic year. Each ceremony also serves as an opportunity to honor the commitment of faculty and staff who regularly give support to these centers and programs that benefit Sylvania students.
Following are some of this year’s celebratory highlights:
Multicultural Center – May 20
Sylvania’s Multicultural Center addresses institutional racism with programs and services to support the academic achievement, leadership development, and advancement of students of color. The center serves as a “safe space” that nurtures learning and the achievement of personal and educational goals through cultural enrichment, peer tutoring, mentoring, and leadership activities on campus.
Gerontology – May 22
Enrollment in gerontology continues to climb, with 40 students earning a total of 90 degrees and certificates this year. Graduates exit the program prepared for work in retirement and senior centers, among other facilities. “I’m just so proud of these students and their accomplishments,” said Jan Abushakrah, director of the gerontology program.
“Many are representative of the wave of ‘baby boomers’ who were left unemployed when the economic recession took hold in 2007. They’ve turned to community college for re-training for new lines of work and are applying their own life experiences to the process – which is incredibly enriching for all of us,” said Abushakrah. They also represent a growing number of students in the program who are developing innovative enterprises to serve older adults.
Illumination Project – June 5
The Illumination Project is an innovative student leadership and education program designed to foster a climate of equality, compassion, justice, and respect for all people in the PCC academic community and the community-at-large. The program uses interactive social justice theater as a venue for student educators and audience members to join together and rehearse ways of solving such problems as racism, sexism, heterosexism and other forms of oppression. During performances audience members enter a scene and dynamically change its outcome. In this way, the Illumination Project challenges viewpoints of both the audience and the actors/student educators in a performance.
Women’s Resource Center – June 6
Sylvania’s Women’s Resource Center provides a central location for services that support the academic achievement of women while working to increase access to education, improve retention, and encourage women’s leadership development. The completion ceremony highlighted student leaders with an innovative way of ‘story telling’ the students journey through the program.
GED Program – June 8
Sylvania’s GED program graduated 185 students at the ceremony held in the Performing Arts Center. The ceremony is the largest of GED ceremonies on the PCC campuses and one of the largest in the state. It’s also one of the most successful: The graduation rate from PCC Sylvania’s program is 55 percent, with more than 13 percent of graduates earning honors status and Sylvania students averaging 555 on the GED exam. Across the country, GED programs average a 15 percent graduation rate, five percent of GED students earn honors status, and the average GED exam score is 500.
Students attend comprehensive classes, where one instructor teaches five subjects. To earn a GED certificate, students must pass a test in five subject areas: writing, social studies, science, literature and arts/reading, and math. Those who graduate from the program are offered 12 tuition-free credits in the associate degree program at PCC.
While the student body varies from year to year, in general 55 percent of the students are at-risk youth, and 45 percent are adults over the age of 21.
ROOTS Program – June 11
The ROOTS Program is a federally-funded TRiO program dedicated to helping low income, first generation students and students with disabilities achieve their educational goals by staying in school and graduating from PCC or transferring to four-year colleges and universities. Services include individualized academic advising, free classes and tuition waivers, personal financial aid assistance, assistance with career planning, scholarship searches and applications, and peer mentoring, among many others.
Dental Assisting – June 11
With an on-site community clinic, additional off-campus sites, and a wealth of college resources, PCC’s dental assisting program at Sylvania offers a strong foundation that enables quick entry into a high-demand field after only three terms. Students are taught the skills necessary for success, and they are given field experience, contacts, and sufficient time to learn the most important techniques. In just nine months, students are primed to begin a rewarding career in which they can serve thousands of patients.
Nursing Pinning Ceremony – June 15
PCC’s nursing program is accredited by the Oregon State Board of Nursing and The National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission. Students learn the knowledge and skills required for an entry-level nursing position and qualify to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses, which is a requirement for practice. The program is designed to prepare students to be licensed as registered nurses (RNs), who can deliver nursing care in a variety of healthcare settings.