Partnership helps County students build aspirations

Posted Feb. 09, 2011, at 8:07 p.m.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A two-year partnership between Northern Maine Community College and the Loring Job Corps Center has resulted in a growing number of students in Aroostook County securing a higher education.

The Advanced Career Training program was introduced in November 2008 by both institutions and marketed nationwide to all 122 Job Corps sites in the United States. Officials at NMCC said Wednesday that it is bolstering student college aspirations and helping to increase enrollment.

William Egeler, dean of students at the Presque Isle college, said NMCC is seeing its highest number of students to date from the Loring Job Corps this semester.

“We currently have 22 students enrolled in academic programs at the college,” he said. “That is up from 12 students last fall. We had just eight enrolled in early 2009, so we have seen a significant increase.”

The ACT program allows students to receive advanced education and technical training beyond the traditional Job Corps programs. Students who have shown outstanding achievements in their academic and vocational training may be recommended for the ACT program by their instructors or a counselor, and may request con-sideration for the program themselves. Qualifying students may spend up to three years in Job Corps.

Egeler said students in the program start training at Job Corps and then transfer to college at NMCC.

“It has worked very well,” he said. “Last fall, 75 percent of the students in the program made the dean’s list.”

Dr. Dottie Martin, director of learning at Job Corps, said the partnership enables the facility “to share the vision of college with our students at the time of their enrollment at our center.”

“We are able to identify early on, through our initial educational assessment processes, the students who have the commitment, drive and ability to participate in the college process,” she said. “In team discussions with students, staff members are able to give each student a personal calendar of achievements that will assist them in understanding the Job Corps completion process and how it will align with college enrollment.”

When the partnership first was announced two years ago, NMCC was one of only a handful of colleges nationwide to offer the ACT program. Martin and Egeler credit the cooperation of NMCC staff and LJCC career counselors who assist students through the financial aid and application process as key to successful transition.

Egeler said the partnership is particularly beneficial to Job Corps students, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds. The partnership ensures that the students have support systems in place, which he characterized as “crucial” to academic success.

“We are very pleased with our relationship and the mutual commitment to continue to make it even better serves both institutions well,” he said. “The early introduction of students to the college and the sharing of academic standards for admission have led to some of our Job Corps students ranking among our top academic achievers.”

Yusuf Ghodgeri, 19, of Worcester, Mass., is a computer electronics student who lives at Job Corps and attends class daily on the Presque Isle campus.

“It’s a great opportunity to be able to study at NMCC and remain part of the Job Corps program,” he said. “I might not have otherwise been able to afford to get my associate’s degree. You need a degree to get most jobs today.”

Ghodgeri completed the computer networking program at Job Corps in late 2009 and began taking classes at NMCC in January 2010. He will graduate from the college in May 2012 and hopes to continue his education at either the University of Maine or the University of Maine at Fort Kent.

Students participating in the ACT program are provided transportation to and from the NMCC campus, noon meals and regular contact with career counselors.

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