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Dr. Kevin Walthers

Dr. Kevin Walthers

Allan Hancock College students are in their final stretch toward victory. Commencement is right around the corner, and AHC faculty and staff are helping students wrap up the 2018-19 school year. For a record number of students, that means completing a degree or certificate. For many, it even means earning more than one degree or certificate!

We sometimes get lost in the day-to-day grind toward earning a degree, but this is a good time to reflect on what it actually means to earn a degree. For a student, the awarding of a degree or certificate indicates more than the culmination of a series of courses, or a number of checked boxes. An Allan Hancock College degree (or certificate) is a stamp of approval from the faculty who taught, observed and mentored a student. It serves as confirmation from staff that a student meets the established criteria to be considered a college graduate.

At the end of the month, hundreds of students and their families will celebrate the next step in their lives alongside our faculty, staff and community. Some are going on to four-year universities, others into the job market. And yet others will return to Hancock next fall to complete their degrees. Along the way, it is our honor to support those students and to play a role in their success.

It’s no small feat to provide programs that offer intentional strategies to help students across the finish line. This year’s commencement will see the first graduating class of Puente program students. Launched this year, Puente is a targeted, high-intensity, academic pathways program that focuses on the needs of underrepresented students. Our graduating Puente students prove the concept works; now we must commit to bringing it to scale in a way that spreads the key factors of success across campus.

This was also the first year of the Hancock Promise, our community-supported program ensuring a first year of free college for high school graduates in our area. Students demonstrate personal investment in the Promise by enrolling full-time and taking English and Math in their first two semesters. We expect our two-year graduation rates to jump next year as the first cohort completes their degrees, and we are already seeing Promise students in this year’s graduating class!

Our graduates should be proud of their own determination and commitment that has led to their success. While a degree is an individual accomplishment, success comes from the investment of time and expertise from our faculty, the daily dedication of our staff members, and the solid commitment of support from our local community.

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Dr. Kevin G. Walthers is the Superintendent/President of Allan Hancock College.

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