I am so pleased to participate in this week’s “Education in Focus”– since education is always my focus! Yesterday I was in the classroom for most of the day - doing what I love – teaching community college students who are eager to learn, and who are pursuing their dreams of getting a college education. Our spring semester is well underway, and I am gratified to watch my students achieve what some of them never thought was possible.
It’s an exciting time for students and teachers all over the country, as Congress and the Administration are working to increase student access and success. The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), which includes a historic investment in community colleges, is currently pending in the Senate. If passed, this legislation would improve our higher education system by reforming the Nation’s student loan system, raising the maximum Pell Grant award, and increasing the availability of Perkins loans. These provisions could have a real impact on community colleges and students by increasing federal financial aid, and allowing colleges to compete for funds to bolster student success and completion. It also includes an opportunity for them to apply for funding, through their states, to expand and upgrade facilities so that they can better meet the needs of their students.
Last month, I attended the President’s State of the Union Address, where he spoke about the importance of the SAFRA, and reminded the audience that community colleges are a career pathway for the children of many working families. I was honored to have Julia Frost, a student at Coastal Carolina Community College, join me that night as my guest. I am truly inspired by Julia’s commitment to her country as a former Marine and current Marine Corps spouse, and her commitment to completing her education.
Being on a campus or in a classroom always feels like home to me, and I can’t wait to visit more students and teachers this year. It is truly an honor to spend time with students like Julia and the dedicated faculty who are helping her make her dream of becoming a teacher a reality.