Assuming the role of president of Salt Lake Community College over a year ago was a huge privilege. As I've listened to the national conversation escalate over the important role of community colleges, I have deepened my knowledge and respect for the enormous, diverse and transformative impact that SLCC is having in our own backyard through the stories of the students we serve.
Last May, Sam, a first generation college student and SLCC graduate, completed his first year of graduate school at Columbia University. In high school Sam thought he wasn't "college material." Because his parents hadn't had the opportunity to attend college, Sam's knowledge of the college application process was limited. By chance, he tried one developmental math class at SLCC his first semester. With positive feedback and personal attention from his faculty member, he tried a few more courses the next semester. His academic confidence lifted, Sam continued at SLCC, graduated with honors and transferred seamlessly to the University of Utah where he earned a degree and served as student body president. Sam represents just one of the 70 percent of SLCC graduates who benefit from SLCC's transfer education mission toward helping them find a pathway to a four-year degree.
After serving 14 years in the military, Darlene started a career in the concrete business but couldn't make ends meet. As a single mom of two, Darlene enrolled at SLCC and earned two degrees in two years, including one in the high-tech field of non-destructive testing. Darlene's new career takes her all over Utah, inspecting components on bridges, fuel tanks on trucks, even equipment at nuclear and geothermal plants. Now she provides a strong living for her and her family. Darlene represents 642 student veterans receiving an education from SLCC, recognized consistently as a top 10 college by Military Times for our service to veterans. She also represents the 30 percent of students who attend SLCC to take advantage of our workforce education mission.