As thousands of Lorain County Community College and University Partnership students begin classes today, I welcome them to our LCCC family. Our students continue to look forward, building a brighter future for themselves and our community. When I think of our resilient students, I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Throughout the pandemic, our students continue to look boldly forward. In the face of struggle, they’ve chosen hope. And their community college is here to help them achieve their goals. We do this by cultivating community, opportunity and unity, here on campus and throughout our region. It all happens through a lens of equity that meets students where they are, wraps them in our Culture of Care, and results in academic and career success.
One recent graduate who found career success is David Copsey. Following his calling to serve his community in the healthcare field, David came to LCCC with a plan to study nursing. However, once he shadowed a respiratory therapist, he knew he’d found his true purpose and enrolled in Bowling Green State University’s respiratory care program through LCCC’s University Partnership.
Once the pandemic hit in March 2020, David felt even more solidified that he was in the right place, despite the hardships of the field.
“Other people’s instincts were to leave when the pandemic hit, but for me this job is truly a calling,” David said.
David graduated in December 2020 – a peak of the pandemic – and immediately accepted a position with the Cleveland Clinic. It’s a rigorous job and he felt well prepared by his degree program.
“It’s hard sometimes. There are a lot of times I’m crying; there are a lot of times I’m frustrated,” David said. “But I still wouldn’t change it for the world because I’m constantly helping people every single day, which I love to do.”
I’m so proud David is following his passion to serve others; and I’m honored that his community college was able help him reach his goals. This represents the root of who we are as an organization. LCCC was created in 1963 to deliver quality educational opportunities for everyone. And in 1996, our community supported the addition of our University Partnership program, offering affordable bachelor’s and master’s degrees right here on the Elyria campus. As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the LCCC’s University Partnership, I’m inspired by David and all the University Partnership graduates making a difference, and humbled by the community that made this program possible.
Since the creation of the University Partnership, nearly 7,000 people have seized this wonderful opportunity and earned their degree. What began as a partnership with five colleges and universities delivering 12 bachelor’s and master’s degrees has expanded to 14 partner colleges delivering more than 100 degrees. And because we know that high tuition costs are often a barrier to educational attainment, affordability remains central: the average University Partnership student saves $74,000 on the cost of a bachelor’s degree. Instead of racking up debt, LCCC and University Partnership students build relevant, job-ready skills that meet the needs of local employers. In fact, 90% of LCCC graduates find work here in Northeast Ohio.
Low cost, quality education that leads to high wage jobs; that’s one key to building strong communities, a strong economy and brighter future for us all. Another key lies in the knowledge that we can achieve more together than we can separately. As we convene for the first day of classes, we celebrate the unity that’s created when people from all walks of life come together to pursue their dreams.
To inspire students on this topic, we hosted an event in College Center on January 18 commemorating the life’s work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and featuring former NFL player, Shawn Harper. Shawn’s story of overcoming the odds and surmounting negativity was a wonderful message for our students as they begin their spring semester, likely facing challenging circumstances on a personal or emotional level.
To further mark this occasion and our commitment to social justice, today we unveiled the launch of a Unity Quilt. Students, faculty and the community can participate by creating a personalized square that represent their views on unity, service and community. Alone, each square tells just one story, but when woven together, a beautiful new collective emerges.
Like the quilt, each student starting class today has their own experience that becomes an integral part of the overall fabric of our campus and our community. My hope for this semester is that students continue boldly in pursuit of their dreams – and their community college will be here to help them by providing opportunity, connection to community and unity for all.