SFC uses convocation to unveil new programs

Teri McClellan receives an honorary degree during the convocation at Santa Fe College on Friday.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, January 6, 2012 at 5:38 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 6, 2012 at 5:38 p.m.

A new semester at Santa Fe College presents an opportunity for renewed beginnings, Vice President for Student Affairs Portia Taylor said Friday.

SFC will head into the spring semester with new academic programs, initiatives and challenges, as unveiled during its Spring Convocation on Friday at the Fine Arts Hall.

Provost Ed Bonahue pointed out several new programs the college is enacting and pursuing. Those include:

* A bachelor of science program in nursing, designed to help registered nurses earn their four-year degree. More than 20 students have signed on to the program, which begins Monday.

* A polysomnography certificate, which would make SFC only the second college in the state to offer the program to help develop health-care professionals who study sleep patterns.

* A support organization management baccalaureate degree, which would help students seeking entrepreneurial and management roles in information technology, public safety and human resources.

In addition to the new programs, Bonahue highlighted an agreement with the University of Florida's College of Engineering in which some applicants to UF's engineering programs would be redirected to SFC to take prerequisite and general education classes. Upon successful completion, those students would be guaranteed enrollment at UF.

Bonahue said he expects the alliance to launch in the fall.

"It really strengths the ties between the college and university," he said. "It strengthens the transfer pathway for Santa Fe students, and honestly it also helps to recruit Santa Fe students from across the state."

SFC's recent enrollment in the Democracy Commitment, spearheaded by The New York Times and including 50 colleges across the country, also was announced.

Felice Nudelman, executive director of education for The New York Times Company, said the effort will continue the mission of the Founding Fathers.

"The goal of this project is nothing less than is that for every graduate of an American community college to have an education in democracy," she said, pointing to troubling statistics that high school students don't understand the freedom of press and Bill of Rights.

The commitment requires colleges to empower students to participate in public work and civic projects.

Nudelman encouraged faculty in attendance to learn and teach the concepts of democracy, debate and engage.

Engaging struggling students is one of the paramount duties of the college, President Jackson Sasser said.

"They privilege us by coming in the front door," he said. "We can't solve what happened before they entered, but we can meet them where they are."

Malynn Moses knows that all too well. The music student suffers from fibromyalgia, a chronic pain disease, but earned her GED. Then SFCe came calling with its Pathways to Persistence program.

Pathways to Persistence is a mentoring community for students who have a GED that promotes college success skills. Sasser said 85 percent of students in the program move on to the next semester, which is a much higher rate than the rest of the nation.

Moses sang an original song with the backing of members of the college's jazz band, repeating that "we can make a difference."

Students who participated in the health sciences forum aimed at black male students also spoke about their struggles and triumphs at SFC.

Landon Moorehead, a nursing student, said he took 17 hours of classes and worked 40 hours full-time. Then he had a weekly night class in which he was barely getting by. That professor singled him out each class period to ensure he was keeping up.

"She had high expectations for me," he said.

Fellow panelist Oliver Rhoden, a cardiovascular technology student, echoed the importance of that sentiment.

"The worst thing you can do for me is to have a lower expectation, because the thing you should address is dealing with the obstacles," he said. "With high expectations come high achievements."

Also in attendance at convocation was Randy Hanna, chancellor of the Florida College System.

"Santa Fe today is a place of destination," he said. "It's a place where students choose to go to school because of the programs that are offered here. It's a place that is, and will continue to be, a national leader."

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