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The Success of Working Together Is the Theme of QCC’s All College Day

September, 2018
  • QCC President Dr. Luis Pedraja and Professor Dahbeh Bigonahy
    QCC President Dr. Luis Pedraja (left) honors Professor Dahbeh Bigonahy as the 2018 BigonahyDale P. Parnell Distinguished Faculty Award by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).
  • All College Day, Fall 2018
    All College Day, Fall 2018

The importance of working together has never been more pronounced than it was at the recent All College Day at Quinsigamond Community College. Faculty and staff gathered together to learn about all the amazing changes being implemented at the college. To kick off the half day event, guest speaker Attorney Valerie Zolezzi Wyndham presented a program, “Inclusion Ignites Success.” She discussed her own personal journey as being both Mexican and American and addressed the misconceptions she has personally encountered, as well as the racism and diversity in today’s world.

Ms. Zolezzy Wyndham told the QCC Community that it was important to “approach others with humility,” and to assume goodness and good intent when people make mistakes.

“Learn, inquire, explore and broaden networks. Be open and make opportunities happen,” she said.

QCC President Dr. Luis Pedraja discussed the remarkable changes that have been taking place in the year since he had taken over as the college’s sixth president, noting that the entire QCC community has risen to the goal he set for 100 percent student success.

Those changes include a Welcome Center, Student Success Center, a new Strategic Plan, a new mentoring initiative, food pantry, community learning hubs located at Great Brook Valley and Catholic Charities, new and improved signage and an updated website. These are all designed to reduce the obstacles that students have faced in coming to college. 

Dr. Pedraja noted that these changes have not been without challenges and struggles that have included increased competition both locally and nationally, but that the college has persevered.

“We had limited resources and lost some people we could not replace. We had to do more with less. However, all the challenges we face pale in comparison in light of what our students face. The challenges are but an opportunity for us to overcome and be better and make a difference,” Dr. Pedraja said. “We’ve come a long way and we should be pleased by what we’ve accomplished.”

Dean of Students Terry Vecchio, along with Director of Mentoring for Perkins Programs Gabe Santner and TRIO Counselor Ricky Frazier discussed the new mentoring program and how it amplify the previous mentoring programs of Brothers and Keepers and S.H.E., which are now clubs.

“We’re expanding our mentoring program to the community. Every person and business I met has been so excited about the program,” said Mr. Santner. “We’ve got 130 students signed up and about 75 mentors.”

Mr. Santner said the target for this initial start was 100 mentees and 100 mentors. He said they are still looking for more mentors and encouraged faculty and staff to consider being a mentor. Dean Vecchio also discussed the college’s new QCC Food Pantry, established to address food insecurities on campus, and the CARE Team, developed to provide support for students who are struggling. The CARE Team meets weekly to stay current and informed about potential behavior concerns and situations. CARE Team members include Dean Vecchio, Assistant Dean of Students Jason Kurland, Director of Disability Services Kristie Proctor, Chief of Police Kevin Ritacco, Social Worker/Mental Health Counselor Tina Wells and Dean of Compliance Liz Woods.

Interim Vice President of Student Success Michelle Tufau Afriyie and Dean of Academic Planning Liza Smith updated faculty and staff on the Student Success Center, noting this is the first iteration of the Center and it will continue to evolve as they learn more.

Kathy Rentch, Assistant Vice President for Workforce Readiness and Innovation and Dean, Institutional Research and Planning Ingrid Skadberg updated the college on the Strategic Plan.

“This sets the roadmap for the future and is a commitment to student success,” Dr. Pedraja said. “I’m humbled and honored to work with all of you. When we work together there is no limit to what we can achieve.”