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President Obama visits a New York community college
Photos and Story by James Hill
President Obama addresses a crowd at a community college in New York (Photo courtesy of Hudson Valley Community College)
Sept. 21, 2009 — Today, President Barack Obama, along with Jill Biden, visited Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, New York, and toured its technology classrooms. While at the community college, President Obama publicly renewed his call on Congress to pass the American Graduation Initiative and outlined the Administration’s goal to improve innovation.
President Obama noted the importance of community colleges to prepare students for 21st-century jobs and to prepare America for a 21st-century global economy.
“We’re here because this is a place where anyone with the desire to take their career to a new level or start a new career altogether has the opportunity to pursue that dream,” the president said. “This is a place where people of all ages and backgrounds – even in the face of obstacles, even in the face of very difficult personal challenges – can take a chance on a brighter future for themselves and for their family.”
Obama talked about the role community colleges play in worker training, saying, “We know that the nations that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow.”
He went on to talk about the thousands of high school graduates who are prepared for college but who don’t go to two- or four-year schools because tuition is too steep. Also, an estimated 40 percent of students who start college don’t complete college. “So all along that education pipeline, too many people – too many of our young talented people – are slipping through the cracks. It’s not only heartbreaking for those students; it’s a loss for our economy and our country.”
The president sited statistics indicating that jobs requiring at least an associate’s degree are projected to grow twice as fast as jobs requiring no college experience in the years to come.
Jill Biden, wife of the vice president, has been an instructor for almost 30 years and spent most of that time in community colleges. The president has asked her to travel around the country this year, promoting the opportunities that community colleges offer.