On Community Colleges
by The Honorable Stephen Brewer
This is a time in our history of enormous economic and cultural transformation that will summon the most creative and compassionate qualities of our society.
Throughout her history, our nation has answered the call to face great challenges. I am confident that we can utilize our great creative and collective spirit to address the challenges before us now. While we do, I am also hopeful that as Lincoln said, we can “summon the better angels of our nature” in the process.
The best social program is having a job, and we all must obtain the skills necessary for a new economy that enables us to adapt as effectively and efficiently as possible.
I have always been impressed with the mission of community colleges. The high cost of education has forced many people, especially those students who are economically disenfranchised, to either incur debt that will compromise their future, or to forgo a college education and training altogether.
Community colleges are an accessible, valuable, and logical pathway to the job market, or continuing to a four-year degree. Compelling evidence shows us that Massachusetts community colleges offer high-quality educational opportunities that are affordable and won’t leave you combing gray hair while you make your final student loan payment!
When I retired from a long career in public service, I was thoughtful about what I wanted my ‘second act’ to include. After having helped procure funding for a $40 million science wing for Mount Wachusett Community College, I was inspired by the working happening for and by the residents of North Central Massachusetts.
Working arm in arm with three Chambers of Commerce, Heywood Healthcare, dozens of private sector employees, as well as the municipal leaders of the communities in the region, the college operates in real-time to tailor its curriculum and training opportunities to each community’s specific needs.
The three campuses of Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, Leominster, and Devens provide a diverse balance to the needs of each geography. I have witnessed faculty, staff, and administrative teams ground their work in student-centered philosophy. We are all here for the students.
Most recently, the Covid-19 pandemic has unwittingly brought to light this team’s tireless work to push forth the college’s mission in a safe, creative, and technologically accessible manner. It has been an enormous undertaking with an incredibly tight turnaround time.
Everything from the 2020 Commencement Ceremony, the Food Insecurity Programs, the Civic Engagement Programs, Veterans Programs, and the over 120,000 hours of volunteerism in the region, make me proud to advocate on behalf of such an important beacon for the Commonwealth.
It can not be understated how important it is that the institutions serving community college students respect the dignity and worth of those often neglected by our society. We must take action in our individual lives to reflect on how we can each be better, demand that the systems and structures of our society change to best serve the under-represented, and elevate the voices of the historically unheard.
Of course, Mount Wachusett Community College may not have the budget for expensive and glamorous marketing and communications campaigns. Despite this, I hope you’ll take to heart my endorsement of this college. Mount Wachusett provides students with an opportunity- regardless of age, wealth, status, or background. I am so grateful to have found a purposeful encore to my time in public service and will continue to champion these opportunities to all who will listen.
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