QCC’s President, Dr. Luis G. Pedraja was the keynote speaker at the Worcester Education Collaborative’s (WEC) annual meeting, held on December 6 at Mechanics Hall. The independent organization is dedicated to ensuring that students in the Worcester Public Schools are given the opportunity to succeed at the highest level possible and to acquire the skills and knowledge to master the challenges of the 21st century.
“The Worcester Education Collaborative’s mission is something that resonates with me, given their focus on ensuring student success,”Dr. Pedraja said.
Dr. Pedraja discussed his mission to increase higher education access for all people, particularly those who have historically been underserved. He addressed how the landscape is changing both regionally and nationally, as more immigrants and those of low income comprise a growing number of the population. The shift in these demographics now requires different approaches of learning from K-12 to the college classroom.
“How we do this will define our future success,” he said. “Education is an economic driver and without an educated workforce we cannot attract new business and move to the future. Education is an investment in our future and one that will repay us two and three fold.”
Through advances in technology our society has gone through radical changes making for a globalization both socially and in the workforce today. Learning to adapt to these changes is crucial, he continued.
Additionally, as the country sees lower birth rates, traditional students are decreasing and there is an insurgence of minorities and a growing diversity within our community.
“Our schools will need to address this,” Dr. Pedraja said. “This is no longer ‘our parents’ classroom.’”
Citing the need to devise ways to obtain more creative pathways to college, Dr. Pedraja highlighted a few initiatives that QCC has undertaken such as a pilot mentoring program that enables Burncoat students to be mentored by Phi Theta Kappa honor students, assisting the high school students in transitioning to college. QCC has also been working with different community organizations to help expand wraparound services.
He noted the need for more coordination of resources and wraparound programs to ensure student success, in addition to finding ways to lower college costs.
“You’ve all heard that it takes a village to raise a child. I say it takes a community to educate our children,” Dr. Pedraja said. “We must teach to the future. We must not be reactionary, but bold visionaries to prepare the children for tomorrow. Their success is our success.”
View the attached video to hear Dr. Pedraja’s complete address.