by Darick Taylor
Earlier this year, FSCJ joined Achieving the Dream, which is a nation-wide network of over 200 community colleges that have banded together through this program to improve student success.
This morning, next door to Downtown Campus at FSCJ’s Advanced Technology Center, faculty members and administrators from numerous campuses and departments gathered under the auspices of Achieving the Dream to discuss how to implement strategies that will enable students to reach their goals—particularly as those goals relate to completing their degree programs, but also ways to facilitate personal enrichment and fulfillment during the process.
Having been fortunate enough to attend this tremendous meeting—which was organized in large part by Director of Outcomes Assessment and Strategic Planning, Angela Browning—I felt encouraged by the open dialogue and equal treatment given to the ideas expressed by the diverse crowd.
President Bioteau opened the meeting by emphasizing the need to include all students regardless of their intended majors or career paths in plans to increase program completion in a way that will promote not only academic success but that will allow them to accomplish their personal and professional goals as they move into the workforce. The crowd then broke off into discussion groups where thoughts about how FSCJ can improve its ability as a vast institution to bring these achievements to fruition were exchanged.
Many of the methods proffered would presumably be more-than-familiar to most students: e.g., teaching time management skills, increasing access to technology, and speaking with advisors. However, what I found to be most heartening were the mentions of developing empathy and meaningful communication—not only between faculty and students, but between administrators and students, as well.
As students, it can often seem as if we are caught up in the machinations of an enormous machine. We might believe at times that FSCJ staff are so divorced from the student experience that they do not understand our desires or needs. And, perhaps, there are times when those feelings are warranted. However, it is my hope that my peers and classmates who read this will gain a greater sense of comfort from knowing that there are many more staff members at FSCJ who are on our side than those who are not. I have witnessed them firsthand, and it has given me further confidence and pride in being a part of the FSCJ community. I have a sense that no matter what branch or component of FSCJ we belong to, we are one cohesive team working together toward mutual betterment.