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Ten things to be thankful for at MCC this holiday season

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends and is preparing for the holiday season before you. During this time of year, I like to reflect on all of the things for which I am thankful. With McHenry County College’s new mission statement encapsulating our role in the community, “Our focus is learning. Student success is our goal,” it is truly an exciting time to be part of this institution.

So, as we are now in full swing for this holiday season, and we soon will count down to a new year with new opportunities, what better way to express my personal thanks than outlining the top 10 things for which I am thankful.

No. 10. MCC has had the highest enrollment growth, in both head count and full-time equivalent, of all of the community colleges in the state over the past five years. We had a 33 percent increase in our head count and a 31 percent increase in our FTE, with this fall up 7.2 percent. What makes me so thankful about these numbers is that it means McHenry County College is focusing on helping more and more McHenry County residents meet their higher education goals. Having more residents attain a higher education degree is what we are all about!

No. 9. MCC faculty, staff and administration have taken the initiative to garner resources from a variety of sources to ensure that innovation constantly occurs at the college. With those additional resources, we can stretch our three typical funding sources even further and initiate new academic programs, equip our teaching laboratories, and expand our services to students.

No. 8. MCC provides higher educational programs that residents need, in a schedule pattern that allows them to fit learning into their busy schedules, and in the delivery modality that fits their learning styles. This is a pretty simple concept, but MCC’s willingness to be ready for change at a moment’s notice underpins our efforts in ensuring McHenry County residents are successful.

No. 7. Our growing credit and noncredit programs and curriculums that support economic growth and development, here locally and nationally – including health professions, culinary, manufacturing and engineering, robotics, business, graphic design, liberal arts and many, many more. The McHenry County community needs more and more education and training so they can be successful in their lives, wherever they may venture.

No. 6. The attention the college gives to the whole person, not just to their academic life, but also the strong student support services that contribute to the student’s engagement and ultimate success at MCC. These services include career services, student life, athletics, advising, counseling, financial aid, veterans services, and multicultural services. Many individuals choose MCC as their first choice for higher education. Without a strong student support system, these individuals may never reach their educational goals.

No. 5. The collaborative businesses that work together with MCC to make sure the county has a trained and educated workforce. Their willingness to provide space, equipment and staff to ensure programs are successful is wonderful, and I am very thankful. In addition, our educational partners, such as the middle and high schools that work with the college, making sure their students are college and career ready. These partnerships will increase the economic health of those who take advantage of these opportunities, but for the entirety of McHenry County as well.

No. 4. The amazing volunteers and donors who give of their time, talent and treasure to support the college and its mission, such as the Friends of the MCC Foundation and its board of directors, who are focused on creating opportunities for our students, including scholarships and programs, as well as supporting the capital initiatives of the college.

No. 3. A caring and quality-driven faculty, staff and administration who are passionate about not only serving our students, but also helping them learn and be successful.

No. 2. A committed board of trustees, who provide guidance and vision for the future of McHenry County College.

And finally, the No. 1 thing for which I am thankful is ...

The ability to positively impact our students’ lives through our programs and people, ultimately helping McHenry County residents take that next step toward their personal success.

I want to wish everyone a happy holiday and a safe and peaceful 2013.

• Dr. Vicky Smith is president of McHenry County College.

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