Prince George’s Community College and its president, Charlene Dukes, was recognized recently by the White House as being a “champion for change.”

“It is an honor to represent the work of dedicated faculty and staff at Prince George’s Community College and be recognized as a White House Champion of Change,” Dukes said. “I salute the other 15 community colleges around the country, all of whom work to transform the lives of tomorrow’s leaders who choose to begin at one of the nation’s more than 1,200 community colleges.”

Late last month, Dukes was invited to the White House to participate in a roundtable discussion on the role community colleges play in America. According to the White House, Dukes is among the Americans who “are doing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.” That invitation came in part because of the work Dukes and PGCC have done to promote the institution and its programs.

In February 2009, President Obama urged the country’s colleges and universities to make the United States the world leader, once again, in college graduates. Dukes was among a group of Maryland community college leaders to take that challenge to heart.

Dukes and the Maryland Association of Community Colleges signed a pledge last year to increase the number of associates degrees awarded in Maryland from 11,200 in spring of 2010 to 18,600 by spring of 2025.

“Maryland community colleges are committed to doing our part and responding to this federal and state initiative,” Dukes said about the pledge. “We are dedicated to meeting the president’s goal in ensuring an educated and globally competitive workforce and helping America achieve the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.”

At PGCC, Dukes has been hard at work making sure her institution is making progress. The college has launched a plan to make sure it holds up its end of the bargain.

“The college has embarked on a completion agenda, known as Envision Success, which is geared toward ensuring students are successful and that they receive degrees, certificates, and certifications as part of their educational objectives,” she stated.

One such program helping this is the Academy of Health Sciences at Prince George‘s Community College. Under that program, high school students take an accelerated course schedule at the school so by the time they graduate; they leave not only with a high school diploma, but with an associate degree as well.

“Through a strong partnership with the Prince George’s County Public Schools, the Academy of Health Sciences at Prince George’s Community College was born and unveiled earlier this year,” said in a statement. “Its opening is evidence that despite the economic challenges of today, our public school and college leaders are facilitating learning in transformational ways for tomorrow’s leaders as one solution to global competitiveness in the decades ahead.”

The other institutions honored were Lake Area Technical College, Lawson State Community College, Miami Dade College, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Mott Community College, Northeast Iowa Community College, Northern Virginia Community College, Santa Barbara City College, Southwest Texas Junior College, Tennessee Technology Center-Murfreesboro, United Tribes Technical College, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, Valencia Community College, Walla Walla Community College, and West Kentucky Community and Technical College.

The White House has also pledged $500 million in grants to the nation’s community colleges.


George Barnette

Special to the AFRO