Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Making Sense of it All

At the end of each academic year, May is crazy with a calendar of events, celebrations and activities that culminate with Commencement. I want to share some of my experience over the past few weeks. The MVCC Mission, to promote STUDENT SUCCESS and COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT through a commitment to EXCELLENCE and a spirit of SERVICE, provides focus and clarity, so I’ve used it to organize my thoughts here.

Student Success
The caliber of students choosing to attend MVCC speaks to the quality of education we provide. Two examples of remarkable achievement are Kyle Richardson and Ahsan Ali. Kyle chose MVCC after graduating from Rome Free Academy. He graduates this Friday with a 3.98 g.p.a. after an outstanding two-year career, leading the Hawks baseball team to consecutive post-season tournament play. He’ll attend St. John’s University on a scholarship and major in pre-med. By the way, Kyle was named the National Scholar Athlete of the Year by the national coaches association representing more than 700 community colleges nationwide across all three scholarship and non-scholarship divisions. This is a tremendous accomplishment for Kyle that reflects well on MVCC. Interestingly enough, MV has been home to the National Scholar Athlete of the Year in five of the last six years. No other community college has had more than two in the last 20 years! We celebrated Kyle’s many achievements at the MVCC Hawks Athletic Banquet recently.

Ahsan Ali is another student who recently received national recognition. For the second consecutive year, MVCC has had a National Coca-Cola Scholar (a competitive award that goes to 300 students…out of the 6 million community college students nationwide). In addition, Ahsan was named to the 1st team all New York Academic Team. A product of our Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP) with Utica City School District, he has his sights set on medical school upon completing his studies at MVCC.

Community Involvement
We talk a lot about breaking barriers and creating opportunity for education here. Much of the time our community connections help make that happen. Last week, at the annual MVCC Foundation Scholarship dinner, more than 70 scholarship winners were honored. Each of them had the chance to eat dinner with the donors that funded their scholarships. This was a record-breaking year for our Foundation as our fundraising efforts resulted in nearly $300,000 in scholarships.

Commitment to Excellence
While I could highlight a number of areas of excellence from the past year (program accreditations and faculty and staff awards), the MVCC Hawks Athletic banquet last week was nothing short of incredible. All 22 of our intercollegiate athletic teams were highlighted, and having seven new coaches, the overall winning percentage for the entire athletic program was more than 70 percent! The individual and team achievements recognized that night only serve to reinforce MVCC’s long-standing commitment to excellence, regardless of venue.

Spirit of Service
I experienced the ever-growing MVCC spirit of service first-hand as I joined a number of other staff members (including Khahn, our visiting professor from Vietnam) serving “midnight breakfast” - an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet - to hundreds of residence hall students loading up for their final exam study sessions. The spirit of service here continued to come to life in the work of the amazing efforts of Team MVCC (which is certainly worthy of a separate future blog post). In addition, we should all be extremely proud of our Phi Theta Kappa student honor society. With an amazing student leadership team and chapter advisors, they earned a national ranking of 4 out of 5 stars (based on the number and quality of their service activities) and were recently recognized for their tremendous efforts in the inter-generational community cleanup last month.

All the banquets and recognitions are, however, just a prelude to the grand finale this Friday, when hundreds of students walk across the stage to accept their diplomas.

“Homeless to Harvard’s” Liz Murray is joining us as our commencement speaker to share her inspiring story, putting an exclamation mark on what it means to break barriers and overcome obstacles. It will be a fantastic ceremony that helps make sense of the crazy schedules we keep and hard work we do helping bring MVCC’s mission of success, involvement, excellence, and service to life every day.

If you have any thoughts on this post, please contact me at presblog@mvcc.edu.