Rapid Path to Success

Guest Correspondence

BY CAROL PROBSTFELD SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY APR 17, 2021

The pathway to completing a higher education is not always a straight line. Most students need a nudge here and there to make them aware of the opportunities or assistance available to keep them moving forward to graduation.

I recently talked to two students at the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, who are positive examples of willingly accepting a boost to enhance their education and career prospects.

When SCF started its Get Credentialed, Get Noticed! rapid credentialing campaign in Fall 2020 we knew the effort would be great benefit to individuals who were out of work and in need of a short-term program to get employed again. We have been pleasantly surprised, however, with how much this effort has benefited existing SCF students.

SCF’s short-term workforce certificates and industry credentialing programs prepare students for direct entry into the local workforce. We partner with regional employers to ensure our programs meet their needs and effectively prepare students for jobs that lead to careers.

SCF started the “Get Credentialed, Get Noticed!” initiative thanks to a grant of almost $500,000 from the Florida Department of Education’s Rapid Credentialing Economic Recovery & Prosperity Initiative. Scholarships and support are available through the grant and Florida Power and Light donated $229,000 to provide laptops to students to remove the technology barrier many face.

As we ramped up our focus on rapid credentialing through the grant, we were able to streamline our internal processes for awarding college credit certificates within SCF’s Associate of Science degree programs. Many certificates are embedded within these degree programs and we were able to identify students on track to earn certificates and make them aware of the opportunity.

Ericca Thomas and Kate Kinney are two of those SCF students notified that based on the courses they had completed and were currently taking they were not only eligible to earn certificates but could also receive a laptop through Florida Power and Light’s grant. Both are extremely grateful for the laptop, which has made it possible for each to continue taking online courses.

Ericca is completing the Business Operations and Business Specialist Certificates this spring as she continues her pursuit of a Business Administration and Management Associate of Science degree. She told me that “in addition to increasing my knowledge within my field and improving my marketability with employers, this boosts my confidence and spurs me on to fulfill my academic and career aspirations.”

Kate has already earned her Associate of Science degree at SCF and is pursuing a Public Safety and Emergency Management Baccalaureate degree. She recently shared her story with the Herald-Tribune. An aspiring lawyer, she is completing the Business Specialist Certificate this spring, but plans to earn more because she sees the value to bolstering her professional skillset. “The program is easy to understand, and the resources and funding are there to make sure students have access to everything they need,” Kate told me.

Our focus at SCF is to provide the services that wrap around the support provided by the grants from the state and FPL so students like Ericca and Kate have everything they need to focus on their education and careers. Thanks to our staff’s outreach program, more than 400 students will earn one or more of SCF’s rapid credentials in the 2020-21 academic year. It is just the nudge these students need to find a rapid pathway to success.

Dr. Carol Probstfeld is president of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.

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