Community's values reflected in college

Posted: Monday, May 24, 2010

Earlier this month, I had the honor of joining other graduates in the Kenai Peninsula College graduation commencement ceremony. More than 250 students graduated -- receiving diplomas, certificates, and degrees -- through KPC campuses during the May ceremonies. I was proud to be among them and receive my degree as a member the second largest graduating class in KPC history, and the largest for the University of Alaska.

Each year, students ranging in age from mid-teens to early-80s receive an education from KPC. Graduates this year covered the gamut, from GEDs to a Master's Degree. For some, it was the first step towards a long and successful education, and for others a capstone to many years of dedication and hard work.

For the past few years, I've been taking web-based courses through KPC and the University of Alaska's distance education program. While the amount of work and time required in a distance course is equal to that of a standard classroom setting, the freedom to do my coursework outside of a traditional schedule gave me the ability to still maintain my full-time job, my commitment to my family, and my service as an elected official, while still earning my degree -- only sometimes at the expense of sleeping.

The reason my story -- as well as the story of the other graduates -- is possible, is because of the extraordinary service of the staff and faculty at KPC. They work above and beyond to ensure that all questions are answered, all options are explained, and leave their students with the assurance that they are getting a quality education.

No wonder that last academic year, KPC was the fastest growing UA campus out of all 16 campuses in the state. In the past three years, enrollment at KPC is up 29 percent and the number of credits students are taking has increased 34 percent. This is a testament to the staff and faculty, the flexibility of the courses and programs offered, and a supportive community. It has been said that if one wants to see how much a community cares about its children, they need only take a look at the community library. Then perhaps to see how much a community cares about its learning adults, they need only take a look at the community college.

It is obvious that our community cares a great deal.

Ryan Marquis


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