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Students’ Commitment to Complete Education Viewed as Key to Strengthening Nation

October 01, 2012

Speakers at the Commit to Complete Rally  
St. Louis Community College students and staff held a Commit to Complete Rally Sept. 28 in
downtown St. Louis. Rod Risley, left, executive director of Phi Theta Kappa, was the keynote
speaker of the event organized by STLCC student Jeannine Shaffer, center. STLCC Chancellor Myrtle Dorsey, right, also spoke at the event.

Nearly 200 St. Louis Community College students joined Chancellor Myrtle Dorsey and other college staff and guests for the Commit to Complete Champions Rally and Voter Registration Drive Sept. 28 in downtown St. Louis’ Kiener Plaza.

Dorsey, along with Rod Risley, executive director of Phi Theta Kappa, Heather Wathington, who serves as a data coach for the Achieving the Dream Initiative, spoke about the barriers to student success and completion.

“We want you to meet your goals, and be successful, and most importantly, we want you to give back to the economy, to help make our economy stronger than it is now,” Dorsey said. “We need to give back and make sure that others have the opportunity to get an education as well. That’s what will make these United States a stronger country, a much more competitive country, and meet our commitment goals as a nation.”

Risley echoed those sentiments about the economy.

“Each one, help one. We must help everyone finish what they start,” he said. “We need leaders with the courage and the political will to support change. We have to have this or we will never reclaim our dream as being one of the premier global leaders. The very future of our economy, the very future of our democracy, hang in the balance. Commit to complete.”

Student leader Jeannine Shaffer, who organized and emceed the event, and Donna Dare, the college’s vice chancellor for academic and student services, also shared personal stories about their educational journeys.

“We’re here to celebrate and inspire not just our own students, but every student in the city, the state and the nation to commit to complete their education,” said Shaffer, who also serves as the Phi Theta Kappa’s Kappa District regional vice president. “Community colleges are the great equalizing factor. They allow us to achieve our dreams and to better ourselves. Every student, whether it’s community college or high school, you have to get your education.”

Students at the Commit to Complete Rally  
STLCC students at the Commit to Complete Rally at Kiener Plaza.

Phi Theta Kappa members, who are serving as the student arm of C4, also presented the STLCC Foundation with a check for $3,280 to endow the STLCC Commit to Complete Scholarship Fund. Emerson also pledged $1,000 to the fund, designed to help many STLCC students complete their education.

STLCC student Ryan Bell performed a special rap song he composed about the need to complete an academic credential that will serve as the national theme for the C4 Initiative.

Prior to the rally, students at each campus signed the completion pledge, part of the national education initiative Community College Completion Corps (C4).

President Barack Obama has called for community colleges to produce an additional 5 million degrees and certificates in the next 10 years, part of his goal to restore the United States as the world's leader in college graduates.

Statistics show the surest way for anyone to land a job in their chosen field is to finish college and earn a degree or certificate. By completing a community college degree or certificate, students could earn up to $200,000 more during their lifetime than those who don’t complete an academic credential.

STLCC awarded more than 2,500 degrees and certificates in academic year 2012. Nearly 90 percent of all STLCC graduates remain in the St. Louis area. In St. Louis, 88 percent of employers contacted in a recent survey reported that they were more than satisfied with the overall quality of the STLCC graduates they hire.

In the past seven years, the college has awarded students with more than 14,700 degrees and certificates in programs such as allied health, business administration, general transfer studies, information systems, life sciences, engineering and technology-related areas.