What a year 2020 was! It started out full of promise, then in March we experienced one of the most challenging times in recent memory with the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet this pandemic did not deter our faculty, staff and students from their objectives.
In mere weeks, our College transitioned courses, support services and technologies to a remote format. The QCC Foundation and the College banded together and set up a Student Emergency Fund for students in significant need and hardship due to the pandemic. We worked to get students the technologies they needed to continue with their studies, and helped keep a roof over their heads and food on their tables. Our Food Pantry and Resource Center moved to a drive-thru weekly service early in the health crisis. Over 400 students have utilized the food pantry thanks to our tireless faculty and staff, who volunteer their time each week to distribute food.
We helped our community combat the spread of COVID-19 by hosting a drive-thru COVID-19 test site at the College’s main campus. I am proud to say the person in charge of this was one of our own QCC students, Lamar Brown-Noguera ‘20, who is the community relations manager for AIDS Project Worcester, Inc., the organization that did the testing.
I would be remiss in not acknowledging our incredible students who are the frontline workers in our communities. As I write this, they are continuing to care for the sick and keeping our businesses running. They are doing all this while many are caring for their families, homeschooling their school-age children and keeping up with their own studies. Their resiliency in the face of adversity is admirable and inspiring.
Some of these frontline workers include our own respiratory care students. Respiratory Care Professor Karen Kaletski Dufault petitioned our accrediting agency at the onset of the pandemic and in the course of a few days, received approval to allow our students to work on their student licenses, while simultaneously earning credit. During a time when Worcester needed them most, our respiratory care students were there for our community.
In Fall 2020, new levels of supports and faculty training were added to reinforce remote instruction. New students were able to attend an eight-week, non-credit course to help them acclimate to a remote learning environment. Tutoring was offered in small groups and one-on-one sessions, as well as several courses that had embedded tutors. Weekly Zoom yoga, Zumba and mindfulness workshops helped with stress. Student camaraderie continued as clubs transitioned to video
conferencing and QCC’s E-Sports team began its first season.
I‘m happy to say everyone’s hard work has not gone unnoticed. Our online Associate Degree programs were named the fifth best return on investment (ROI) in the country by OnlineU, an unbiased rankings organization that compares all online colleges and universities in the country. This speaks volumes to the education that students receive at QCC.
I realize 2020 has brought some of the worst of times, yet I am also proud to say it has also bought out the very best in our College community. Regardless of what the future holds, we must remember that together our goal of 100 percent student success is still within reach and together we can accomplish that goal.
Luis G. Pedraja, Ph. D.
President, Quinsigamond Community College