Let’s be honest……. As much as we might encourage our students to have a clear sense of purpose and direction as they try and navigate their educational pathway – and we SHOULD encourage this! – we all know that their reality can quite frequently be a meandering route to destinations not yet fully known. This “wandering” describes two recent community college graduates, and two of my best friends…… Chris, and Chris.
Chris #1 is a graduate of Clatsop Community College; AAS in Historic Preservation and Restoration. But that’s not where he started. Chris’ pathway includes a year at Central Oregon Community College with no specific degree in mind, two separate stints at OSU in pursuit of a Forestry degree, and then finally a completion at Clatsop. Post-graduation, Chris has frequently availed himself to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) services here at LBCC and he now owns his own historic window restoration company here in Albany. Chris also works as a part-time faculty for the program at Clatsop from which he graduated.
Chris #2 is a graduate of Central Oregon Community College; AGS. But he started at Clatsop Community College, pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice. While attending there, Chris was working as a volunteer fireman and so, when the Criminal Justice path didn’t seem to be working out, he changed directions to focus on an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certificate and a degree in Fire Science. He completed the EMT and then transferred to Central to pursue his Fire Science degree. Close to what would have been the final term of his program Chris again changed direction, gathering what he had already completed into an Associates of General Studies and then transferring to an on-line Bible College, from which he will receive his Bachelor’s degree in just a few months. Chris now works as an Assistant Pastor for a church in Bend.
Last weekend, these two young men joined me at my place outside Randle, Washington to help me take down a large maple tree that was diseased and dying. As I spent this time with them, grateful for their help AND for the tree felling skills they have acquired through their firefighting and forestry backgrounds, I became deeply mindful of the powerful bond that has developed between them and me over the past decade. And I saw in these bonds the role that my life has played in their successful, albeit circuitous, educational journey.
While Student Success and Completion will and must most certainly involve well-designed pathways, quality instruction and effective guidance & services, all organized around clear and compelling goals, at the core of our students’ success will be the relationships we are willing to share with them. In our classrooms, in our offices, in the LBCC Courtyard and in the Communities around us, our personal involvement in their lives plays a critical role in their journey, and in their arrival at a destination that makes the difference in their lives that they seek, and we seek for them.