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JCC students promise to graduate for Completion Day

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Jefferson Community College wants students to “Commit, Complete, Compete”.

That was the tag line Wednesday for the inaugural Completion Day, a statewide event with all two-year State University of New York schools dedicated to having more students leave community college with a diploma in hand.

“It’s extremely important for students to finish what they began,” said Thomas D. Wojcikowski, assistant director of student activities. “They’re going to go further with a degree. They have better access to four-year institutions.”

According to a SUNY Report Card on the institution’s website, 25.2 percent of the fall 2007 cohort graduated in three years. According to public relations officer Karen J. Freeman, the SUNY graduation rate for all two-year colleges was 23 percent. The national rate was 17 percent.

To emphasize the growth of success, the college focused on jobs and money. Several alumni had stations throughout the campus with descriptions of their jobs and how an associate degree helped them achieve their goals. All staff members were asked to wear apparel with their alma mater on it. In addition, a Camaro, a Corvette, four-wheelers and snowmobiles were scattered throughout the campus quad, because “by having a degree, you can buy more toys because you’ll have more money,” Mr. Wojcikowski said.

How much more money? He said a graduate could make $400,000 more in his lifetime by earning an associate degree and $900,000 more by earning a bachelor’s degree.

Aaron H. Munford, a German native who settled in Theresa, said he hopes the growth in income will be enough to build his own house and lead to a better future. The fifth-semester student said he was his own obstacle when it came to earning a degree.

“I slacked off the last two semesters,” he said. “This semester, I’ve been working hard on my degree.”

He signed the completion banner that had been moved from the Jules Center to the McVean student lounge in the afternoon for the college’s Completion Carnival.

A disc jockey played popular tunes from 1:30 to 3 p.m., attracting students from all over the campus to check out the events and pledge to complete their degrees.

Assistant professor of business Kathryn L. Brownell, who wore an Indiana University shirt, was manning a booth for the Business Club during the afternoon festivities. Students could eat doughnuts off a string to be eligible for a gasoline gift certificate raffle.

“I think it’s getting them to really see the point,” she said. “When Dr. (Carole A.) McCoy came to the college (as president), the completion rate was extremely low. We want it to be 45, 50 or even 100 percent.”

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