Residents Make Most of Opportunities


by Kenneth L. Ender, President

When I moved to Cumberland County seven years ago, I was impressed by a characteristic shared by most residents. When an opportunity presents itself, the people who live here take advantage of it.

Laurie LaTorre of Vineland and Jean Samuels of Bridgeton recently made the most of an opportunity made available through a partnership between Cumberland County College and Franklin University in Ohio. CCC graduates can transfer 80 credits to Franklin, then complete 42 credits of Internet courses offered by the four-year college to earn a bachelor’s degree. This enables residents to earn a bachelor’s degree without leaving Cumberland County. The partnership brings a bachelor’s degree within the reach of people who can’t commute or move since they have career and family responsibilities.

So when this door opened, Ms. LaTorre and Ms. Samuels grabbed the opportunity to increase their chances for success through higher education. During the past few years, the CCC honor graduates excelled academically on the junior- and senior-year FU Internet courses while working full-time jobs and maintaining their households.

Ms. LaTorre and Ms. Samuels inspired their families and all of us when they were awarded their bachelor’s degrees from Franklin at a Jan. 2 commencement ceremony in Ohio. They’re accomplishments are extraordinary, but they are not uncommon in Cumberland County. I’m continually amazed by our residents’ courage and persistence in their quest to better themselves, and in the long run, the community. Our residents aren’t afraid to be the first in fulfilling their goals, and they aren’t discouraged when there are barriers on the road to success.

At every CCC commencement, more than 70 percent of the graduates are the first in their families to earn college degrees. They’re seizing opportunities for success. Our spring semester enrollment - 3,059 students – is the highest spring semester enrollment in CCC’s 39-year history. More students are taking the bold step to get ahead through higher education.

During the 2004 fall semester, 143 students made the President’s List and 205 students made the Deans List. And CCC student success continues at four-year colleges. A study by Rutgers University indicates that CCC graduates who transfer there have a higher probability of earning a bachelor’s degree than students who enroll as freshmen at the university. Students are making the most of their college experience by achieving academic excellence.

So watch out when our residents are given a chance to succeed. They’re going to move to the head of the class. This characteristic shared by county residents - making the most of available opportunities - inspires all of us at CCC, and our community partners, to provide more and more chances for people to succeed. That’s why we’re looking forward so much to building the University Center, where students will be able to take senior-level baccalaureate degree courses at CCC.

You could say that opportunity is knocking louder and louder at Cumberland County College as we move ahead with new construction, programs, partnerships and services. Just ask Laurie LaTorre and Jean Samuels.