Last Friday, I had the honor of accompanying three of our students to the All-Florida Academic Team Awards Ceremony hosted by the Florida College System and Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society. These awards recognize the most outstanding students in the Florida College System based on academic achievement, leadership and service to the community. Sandra Artecona and Kelxy Butler were this year’s award-winners from TCC, and Brianna Mead was also in attendance with us to help introduce keynote speaker FSU President John Thrasher. All three represented themselves and our College with distinction.
There are so many superstars like Sandra, Kelxy and Brianna here at TCC, and they all tend to have at least one thing in common: they are engaged on campus and take advantage of the opportunities we provide. These opportunities allow them to grow not just as students but as well-rounded citizens – both equally important at TCC. Research tells us time and time again that those students who engage in the campus community get more from their college experience and tend to have higher success rates.
While we are still a commuter campus, TCC is unique among many community colleges in the breadth and depth of opportunities we provide for community engagement. There are student organizations, specialized academic enrichment programs like the STEM, Global Gateway and Honors programs, an active Student Government Association, the award-winning Model United Nations, Forensics Speech and Debate and Brain Bowl teams, a dynamic Peer Leader program, vibrant theatre and arts programs, and the Student Veterans Association just to name a few.
Additionally, the Student Leadership, Involvement, and Civic Engagement (SLICE) office puts on several events throughout the year. Recently they hosted Top Chef Hugh Acheson for a special Q&A session about the food service industry and how developing curriculum for gardening can assist with life skills. To help students destress during midterms week last month, they hosted the Spring Luau with food trucks, games and giveaways. Last week, they even brought Dear World to campus which provided our students a completely new outlet for inspiration and self-expression.
But one of the most comprehensive and impressive “projects” on campus is service learning. It is both an initiative and a culture at TCC, and is a credit to the efforts of several dedicated faculty and staff members in addition to the students who have embraced the concept. Folks from Academic and Student Affairs work together to develop facilitated community service activities which are integrated into course curricula. The experiences and real-world skills students learn are then applied to their academic and personal development. For example, we have a community garden which is maintained by several service learning classes, provides fresh produce to students each month and was just this year awarded an AmeriCorps VISTA focusing on addressing hunger in the TCC and Tallahassee communities. Since 2013, students have collectively logged thousands of volunteer hours for various projects, and the College has also received numerous recognitions for our support of service learning.
As we near the end of the spring semester, I want to thank all those students who have participated in or even led any of our campus engagement opportunities during this past academic year. Each of you have enriched our College and made our community a better place. And to those who have not yet had the chance to get involved, stop by the SLICE office in the Student Union, or visit www.tcc.fl.edu/student-life for more info.