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Quinsigamond Community College Brings Higher Education to the Communities it Services

July, 2018
  • From Left: Karen Ruck, Mishawn Davis-Eyene, Dr. Luis Pedraja and Stephen Marini try out the Community Learning Hub.
    From Left: QCC Administrators Karen Ruck, Mishawn Davis-Eyene, Dr. Luis Pedraja and Stephen Marini try out the Community Learning Hub.
  • QCC and Great Brook Valley Adminstration
    From left: Ricky Frazier, Counselor TRIO Student Support Services; Mishawn Davis-Eyene, Dir. of Admissions; QCC President Luis Pedraja; Carlton Watson, Dir. of Family and Resident Services at GBV; Deborah Gonzalez, Dir. of Community Bridges; Karen Rucks, Ex. Dir. of Advancement and Stephen Marini, COO/CFO & VP of Admin. Services.
  • Carlton Watson, Director of Family and Resident Services at GBV (left) shakes hands with QCC President Dr. Luis Pedraja.
    Carlton Watson, Director of Family and Resident Services at Great Brook Valley (left) shakes hands with QCC President Dr. Luis Pedraja
  • QCC students try out the new Community Learning Hub at Great Brook Valley.
    QCC students try out the new Community Learning Hub at Great Brook Valley.
  • QCC recent graduate and GBV resident Candria Gray stopped by to check out the Community Learning Hub.
    Candria Gray stopped by to check out the Community Learning Hub.
  • QCC community Learning Hub Ribbon Cutting at Catholic Charities
    From left: Worcester City Councilor Sarai Rivera; QCC Student Trustee Benjamin Aryeh; Catholic Charities Executive Director Tim McMahon; QCC President Dr. Luis Pedraja; QCC Foundation Vice President Dr. Linda Maykel; Catholic Charities Board President Anthony Rozevicius; QCC Director of Community Bridges Dr. Deborah Gonzalez, and QCC Vice President for Enrollment Management, Student Engagement & Community Connections, Dr. Lillian Ortiz.
  • Dr. Luis Pedraja, Student Trustee Benjamin Aryeh and Dr. Deborah Gonzalez.
    From left: QCC President Dr. Luis Pedraja, Student Trustee Benjamin Aryeh and Director of Community Bridges Dr. Deborah Gonzalez

A vision has become a reality for Quinsigamond Community College President Dr. Luis G. Pedraja, with the recent openings of two Community Learning Hubs at Great Brook Valley Apartments and Catholic Charities. The new community learning hubs are places where current QCC students can go to study, have access to computers, a Wi-Fi connection and printers.

The openings were met with excitement as residents praised what the college, Worcester Housing Authority, and Catholic Charities have accomplished.

QCC President Dr. Luis G. Pedraja, said the idea of these types of community learning hubs came to him many years ago, long before he was president of a college. As someone who personally grew up in an inner city community with very little resources, Dr. Pedraja recognized that people did not always have a quiet place to study, access to technology, or transportation to and from a college campus.

“I wanted the community college to live up to the idea of community and being in the community. A community college cannot be defined by the walls of its campus,” he said. “This is a partnership with these communities. It brings student success closer and cements the relationship with other services and community groups. We are not just part of a college campus up on a hill, we’re serving the entire community.”

Carlton Watson, director of Family and Resident Services at Great Book Valley said the Worcester Housing Authority was tremendously excited to partner with QCC.

“We know the importance of higher education. Self-sufficiency and being able to move forward is our focus and education is the gateway. We believe the learning hub will be of immense support for our residents to achieve their goals. We’re pleased to contribute with this effort and so happy to partner with QCC,” Carlton Watson, director of Family and Resident Services at Great Book Valley.

Executive Director Tim McMahon, of Catholic Charities Worcester County, said people in need go to the agency for every day necessities such as food, clothing and diapers. The agency’s goal is to help them attain self-sufficiency.

“Part of what we want to do is create wraparound services and support services and there is no better piece to self-sufficiency than education. Quinsigamond (Community College) is a wonderful part of that component. This is a terrific partnership,” Mr. McMahon said.

Transportation to and from campus is often an issue for students and with the learning hubs situated in the communities where hundreds of QCC students live, the locations made perfect sense. Both agencies found rooms they could repurpose and QCC supplied the equipment to make these learning hubs a reality.

Worcester City Councilor Sarai Rivera (District 4) was on hand at the opening of the Community Learning Hub at Catholic Charities and was quick to commend the alliance of QCC and Catholic Charities.

I’m really excited about this partnership and how the collaboration of QCC and Catholic Charities really benefits the community,” she said. “QCC has an amazing reputation and the model of what people are looking for in a community college. I can’t wait to see how this unfolds.”

QCC students said they are looking forward to utilizing the learning hubs.

“I know how it feels when you don’t have a computer or you can’t get back to campus to do your homework. This will ensure QCC students have the best opportunity for success,” said QCC Student Trustee Benjamin Aryeh.

Dr. Pedraja noted that many students are often juggling a family, in addition to working and going to school. He said it’s vital for students to have a quiet place where they can go to study to help them succeed.

Celine Baez, a current QCC student, Great Brook Valley resident and mother of three, said she is thrilled about the learning hubs.

“I do have a lap top at home, but this will be a great place for me to use because it’s quiet and I will be able to study,” she said.

QCC has also scheduled information sessions and other supportive events for prospective students in the next month at the learning hubs. Dr. Pedraja said there are plans to increase the potential of the hubs even further, by hosting community events and community training such as a possible parents’ academy that will offer information to parents about college, as well as financial literacy programs put on by area banks.

“We hope these are the first of many. The idea is to be present in the community and partner with agencies,” he said. “This is the community supporting the mission of higher education. It’s very gratifying to see this part of the vision come to fruition.”

 

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