Our place in life may largely be determined at birth. Our family, our gender, and economic status all plays a part of who we are in society, and may significantly determine the access we have to success.
However, the democratic American society claims that everyone has access to success, and I suppose that is true, but it is not a given. There are certainly numerous examples of self made men and women in history and in contemporary life who through their own wits and determination have achieved great success.
But for many, true opportunity is a much greater challenge than for others. If one must work at an early age to help support a family, access to success is limited. If financial resources are not sufficient to afford a college education, the chances for success are difficult to realize. If a role model or mentor does not exist, the understanding of how to access success is difficult to envision. In all of this, it may be hard for one to dream of what level of success may be achieved.
So what is the common denominator for access to success? Is it personal courage, athletic ability, luck in playing the lottery? If 10 percent of Washington County adults are out of work and another (%) are marginally employed and living just barely above the poverty line, what makes it possible to access success? Or even for those placed in the middle class who are finding less opportunity in a difficult economy, what makes it possible to achieve success? Clearly, the most leveling common denominator is an education, and for that there is access.
The American community college provides opportunity through reasonable tuition, and federal Pell grants to attend college, to access success. Without doubt, it takes enormous courage for many to come to our campuses, to find someone to assist, to navigate the enrollment process and to sit in classes which may have proven overwhelming earlier in life. But for those with the courage to step on our grounds, and come into our offices, there are advisors and counselors who know how to help make important decisions for changing lives, and they want to assist. There are faculty and tutors who are working hard to lead students to succeed in their demanding studies.
With that, a nursing degree, a degree in agribusiness, digital media, electronics, diesel mechanics, engineering, teacher education, early childhood education, business, accounting, and process technology can lead to accessing success. Here success is not uncommon. It is actually a regular occurrence. The percentage of stories that include the demonstration of courage and determination which have led to accessing success is quite high. And the variety of people from all places in life that achieve success is unlimited.
It is the realistic access to education, combined with will and determination, and with support which defines the common denominator for access to success. No matter the place in life in which one is found, the community college, and specifically in the Mid-Ohio Valley, Washington State Community College, demonstrates 2,200 times each term that access to success is achievable, and can be a reality for every adult, no matter their place in life. I know this for a fact as I got my start at a community college. This is, in life, a realistic and direct means to access success.
Bradley Ebersole is president of Washington State Community College.