Ashley Nichols clearly laid out a goal for herself as she signed the Commit to Complete contract in the Robert McLaughlin College Center on Tuesday.
“I want to get a 3.8 average,” said Nichols, of Caroga Lake.
Nichols is a sophomore at Herkimer County Community College majoring in forensic investigation. She said this goal is based on her average from last semester.
“That’s the highest I can get right now,” she said.
Katherine Fletcher, an HCCC freshman majoring in social science, said she wanted to sign the Commit to Complete form “because I want to do something with my life.”
Fletcher, of Oppenheim, said some in her family had only finished high school. She said she wants to “show I can do better for myself.”
According to an HCCC news release, 30 State University of New York and seven City University of New York community colleges set aside the week of Sept. 30 to send a simple message: Students who complete an associate degree have better prospects for jobs, scholarships and transfer to four-year schools
The state’s community colleges adopted the slogan of Commit. Complete. Compete, according to the news release, to emphasize the importance of completing a degree to compete in today’s economy. The state Labor Department projects middle-skill and high-skill jobs will continue to dominate the economy, accounting for 44 and 34 percent of the jobs in 2018, respectively.
Students signed a Commit to Complete banner at the college center on display Tuesday to show they were willing to commit to attaining their associate degree, and also signed forms, like the one Fletcher and Nichols signed. Faculty and staff signed the banner to show they were willing to help students reach their goal of completion.
Twelve alumni participated in an Alumni Showcase, which included posters of the individuals which quoted them about how going to HCCC and completing their degree affected their career and lives. Among those whose stories were on display were HCCC Director of Athletics Don Dutcher and WKTV news anchor Don Shipman.
The college’s Commit To Complete Day also included speeches from school administrators, a current student and alumni who talked about the importance of finishing the task of earning an associate degree.
“Finishing what you start makes you proud,” said HCCC President Ann Marie Murray. “That pride, that’s what’s going to fuel you to complete your next goal.”
Murray talked about statistics that were in favor of those finishing their associate degree, over those who choose to transfer before doing so. “Let’s stop questioning ourselves and let’s commit to complete and let’s compete,” she said.
Page 2 of 2 - Katie Maneen, a 2009 graduate of Frankfort-Schuyler High School, said she decided to go to HCCC because it made the most sense financially. She graduated from HCCC in 2011 with an associate degree in new media. She transferred to Utica College to earn her bachelor’s degree, and now works in the advertising department at The Observer-Dispatch.
Maneen described her initial reluctance to attend the school.
“I didn’t want to come to school here,” she said. “I wanted to transfer and get out. But staying here for two years turned out to be the best decision I ever made.”
Maneen described how she joined HCCC Student Government, which lead her to becoming a student ambassador and joining Phi Theta Kappa. She also was part of a national championship track team during her time at the college.
“Challenges are going to face you every single day,” she said. “You have to face challenges head on.”
HCCC Dean of Academic Affairs Michael Oriolo said everyone at HCCC is part of an “academic family,” and the student body and the faculty and staff need to work together to see their family succeed. He talked about how those who complete their degree have a chance to earn more money if they didn’t otherwise get their associate degree.
“Money isn’t the only issue,” he said. “Completion gives you an edge on your competition. That piece of paper is an important factor in competing with other individuals.”
HCCC Dean of Students Matthew Hawes talked about motivation and persistence. He said some students need encouragement, especially those who are academically at risk.
“They need to be positively reinforced,” said Hawes. “As long as they commit to go to school, to go to class and do their homework and stay on top of things, they will complete.”
Hawes also emphasized students should be in the library at least two hours a day to review notes and to have their “be here now” cap on when at class.
Adam Lisser, an Army veteran who is majoring in cyber security talked about the possibilities that college provides.
“The Commit to Complete brings that to our attention. Our obstacles are never too big to overcome,” he said.
Lisser also borrowed a quote from famed Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi to finish his thoughts. He said, “’The difference between a successful person and others is not the lack of strength, not the lack of knowledge, but rather the lack of will.’”