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Graduation underscored by the excitement of Sylvania completion ceremonies

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Leading up to Portland Community College’s graduation on June 15 is what can be called “completion ceremony season” at the Sylvania Campus.

The non-stop series of celebrations highlights the accomplishments of students who participate in a variety of projects and roles with student service centers and programs throughout the academic year. Each ceremony also serves as an opportunity to honor the commitment of faculty and staff who regularly give support to these centers and programs that benefit Sylvania students.

Sylvania GED students toss their caps in the air at this year’s GED graduation ceremony, held June 9.

Following are some of this year’s celebratory highlights:

Sylvania ROOTS Program – The ROOTS Program is a federally-funded TRiO program dedicated to helping low income, first generation students and students with disabilities achieve their educational goals by staying in school and graduating from PCC or transferring to four-year colleges and universities. Services include individualized academic advising, free classes and tuition waivers, personal financial aid assistance, assistance with career planning, scholarship searches and applications, and peer mentoring, among many others.

Second-year nursing students – A party to bring together second-year nursing students and celebrate their upcoming graduation took place on the lower level of the HT Building on June 6.

“We like to do this each year for this group of students because their clinical rotation schedule doesn’t enable them to see each other often,” said nursing instructor Peggy Sherer.

Located at the Sylvania Campus, PCC’s nursing program is accredited by the Oregon State Board of Nursing and The National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission. Students learn the knowledge and skills required for an entry-level nursing position and qualify to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses, which is a requirement for practice. The program is designed to prepare students to be licensed as registered nurses (RNs), who can deliver nursing care in a variety of healthcare settings.

Illumination Project – The Illumination Project is an innovative student leadership and education program designed to foster a climate of equality, compassion, justice, and respect for all people in the PCC academic community and the community-at-large. The program uses interactive social justice theater as a venue for student educators and audience members to join together and rehearse ways of solving such problems as racism, sexism, heterosexism and other forms of oppression. During performances audience members enter a scene and dynamically change its outcome. In this way, the Illumination Project challenges viewpoints of both the audience and the actors/student educators in a performance.

Multicultural Center – Sylvania’s Multicultural Center addresses institutional racism with programs and services to support the academic achievement, leadership development, and advancement of students of color. The center serves as a “safe space” that nurtures learning and the achievement of personal and educational goals through cultural enrichment, peer tutoring, mentoring, and leadership activities on campus.

Women’s Resource Center – Sylvania’s Women’s Resource Center provides a central location for services that support the academic achievement of women while working to increase access to education, improve retention, and encourage women’s leadership development.

Service-Learning – The district-wide Service-Learning program at PCC offers resources for faculty, staff, and students who are interested in designing and implementing a service-learning course, working on a service-learning project, volunteering with a community agency, learning about social justice issues, or making a difference in the community.

As part of the activities related to its 50th anniversary year, PCC set a goal in September 2011 of giving 50,000 volunteer hours back to the communities that have supported the college so faithfully for the past half-century. With the help of Service-Learning, the college surpassed its goal well before the end of the academic year: at last count, 54,636 hours of service have been recorded.

Sylvania’s GED program graduates 175 – On June 9 the Sylvania Campus hosted its fifth annual GED graduation ceremony. With 175 graduates this year, Sylvania’s GED graduation ceremony is the largest of the PCC campuses and one of the largest in the state. It’s also one of the most successful: The graduation rate from Sylvania’s program is 55 percent, with more than 10 percent of graduates earning honors status and Sylvania students averaging 552 on the GED exam. Across the country, GED programs average a 15 percent graduation rate, five percent of GED students earn honors status, and the average GED exam score is 500.

Students attend comprehensive classes, where one instructor teaches five subjects. To earn a GED certificate, students must pass a test in five subject areas: writing, social studies, science, literature and arts/reading, and math. Those who graduate from the program are offered 12 tuition-free credits in the associate degree program at PCC.

While the student body varies from year to year, in general 65 percent of the students are at-risk youth, and 35 percent are adults over the age of 21.

Dental Assisting – With an on-site community clinic, additional off-campus sites, and a wealth of college resources, PCC’s dental assisting program at Sylvania offers a strong foundation that enables quick entry into a high-demand field after only three terms. Students are taught the skills necessary for success, and they are given field experience, contacts, and sufficient time to learn the most important techniques. In just nine months, students are primed to begin a rewarding career in which they can serve thousands of patients.