Linked-in articles/Op Ed’s
The Community College Pathway
LinkedIn Article Published December 22, 2020
As the President of Kingsborough Community College, CUNY, I am always excited to learn about our alumni. Iris Clarke, the subject of a recent NY Times article The Bra-Fitter Who Wants you to Dance in her Shop -12/3/20) thus came into focus. Naturally, after reading the piece, I did what any woman who likes to shop would do, I made an appointment for a fitting. A week later, I descended the stairs into Iris Lingerie and into the story of Iris Clark. With her clear commitment to her craft, Iris Clarke is yet another worthy reminder of the different, wonderful, and exciting paths that community colleges help create for personal achievement and success.
Community Colleges serve significant numbers of at risk, minority, and low-income students. Our institutions are typically the first higher education stop for first generation students, along with most everyone else that can appreciate an affordable college education. Opportunities abound for community college students to receive a solid liberal arts foundation and prepare for transfer into senior colleges. Students also have the opportunity to enroll in programs that prepare them to enter high demand workforce sectors. Now more than ever, community colleges are poised to address the challenges brought on by the pandemic through a variety of options such as micro-credentialing and upskilling programs for those who need jobs, and connecting employers to skilled workers. But perhaps best of all, community colleges have a reputation for providing students with a high level of personalized attention, and a network of faculty and staff mentors who walk with them and support them in achieving the degrees that they seek to obtain.
And these students arrive and do things and go places. Iris’ pathway from Belize in 1971 lead her to attend Kingsborough, earn a degree in Fashion Design, work at Bloomingdales and Sak’s, become a designer, and thrive as a small business owner for 13 years.
Such a path is not routine. But Iris Clarke blazed it.
According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center community college is a path that over 5 million students took in 2019. It is a path where students can and will blaze their own trails and thereby experience a journey overflowing with self-discovery and personal fulfillment of the highest order.