Reporter’s notebook

  • What community colleges may expect from the Biden administration
  • Helping students find critical resources
  • Sweet success on Netflix’s Sugar Rush

What community colleges may expect from the Biden administration

An upcoming virtual conversation about equity, diversity, inclusion and community colleges during the pandemic will include a senior advisor to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Symone Sanders

Symone Sanders, who was a senior advisor for President-elect Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign and will serve as chief spokesperson for Harris, may provide more insight on what community colleges can expect from the Biden administration. The December 17 chat also will include two former top U.S. Education brass, a vice president from IBM and Willie Smith, president of Baton Rouge Community College (BRCC) in Louisiana.

During the event, the BRCC Foundation and IBM will announce a training platform that will be made available to BRCC students and the Baton Rouge community in January. Register for the free event.

Helping students find critical resources

Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) is teaming with a national nonprofit to guide the Pennsylvania college’s students in finding resources to help them with housing, food, childcare and other essential needs.

Through the partnership with Philadelphia-base Benefits Data Trust (BDT), which provides enrollment assistance to individuals in six states,
MCCC students will have access to a dedicated hotline and personalized, one-on-one phone assistance to determine eligibility and submit applications for multiple benefits, including food, medical assistance and childcare, according to the college.

Knowing where and how to apply for services is especially critical during the pandemic, said Keima Sheriff, MCCC’s assistant dean of student programs.

“For students, getting the assistance they need often depends on knowing where to find it, and in many cases, that’s not always clear,” she said. “With this pilot program, students will be able to call BDT to receive live assistance from a trained specialist who will connect and/or apply them to the services over the phone.”

The College Board is supporting the referral line as part of a broader two-year partnership with BDT.

The student benefits pilot program is one of several wellness initiatives MCCC has recently implemented. Earlier this year, MCCC partnered with the online therapy service Talkspace, which connects students to licensed therapists via a secure mobile app and web platform.

Sweet success on Netflix’s ‘Sugar Rush’

The culinary program at El Paso Community College (EPCC) in Texas shared some holiday cheer when a graduate and a former instructor got first place in a recent episode of Netflix’s “Sugar Rush.”

Culinary arts program graduate Ana Dominguez and former instructor Jonathan Bowden showed their baking prowess in winning the $10,000 first-place prize on the show’s Christmas special.

Dominguez has brought her skills back to EPCC as an adjunct instructor, using the lessons she gained from the competition to inform her classroom instruction.

“I want students to set goals for themselves and work for them, and this experience has proven to me that we can get what we work for. That is the number one lesson I want to pass on to them out of the experience I had being on a high-production show,” she said in a release.

El Paso Community College graduate and adjunct instructor Ana Dominguez displays her culinary skills which helped her and former instructor EPCC Jonathan Bowden earn first place on Netflix’s “Sugar Rush Christmas.” (Photo: EPCC)

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.