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Opinion
The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.
 

Local View: Clark College lifts people up

By Dr. Karin Edwards
Published: May 4, 2024, 6:01am

Greetings from Clark College, where our spring term has just begun.

Clark College joined community colleges across our nation in celebrating Community College Month in April, and there is much to celebrate. Community colleges serve as leaders and partners in economic and community development.

I am a believer in the power of education. A community college education has the power to transform the lives of our students — and their families — for generations to come.

A Columbian editorial published April 11 addressed the cost of a college education and shared this sobering news: “College student loans are the second-highest source of personal debt in the U.S., after home mortgages.” However, community college is an exceptional value. Students who earn an associate degree will spend about $10,000 on tuition and fees during their two years at Clark College. And when they graduate, they are prepared to step into living-wage jobs.

Students who plan to earn a bachelor’s degree from a four-year university can save thousands of dollars in tuition by attending their first two years at Clark College. To make Clark even more affordable, our partners at Clark College Foundation have awarded over $85 million in scholarships to students over the past 50 years.

At Clark College, our classes are taught by professors with deep knowledge and experience in their field. Our small class sizes mean professors can work with their students one-on-one.

About 45 percent of our students are the first in their family to attend college. They do not have a parent or sibling to help them navigate. Clark College provides a toolbox of wrap-around services to help our students succeed. These services include financial aid, advising, tutoring, disability support services, Penguin Pantry food boxes, child care, health and mental health care — and so much more.

Clark College lifts people up and helps them to develop the education, skills and tools required for the future they desire.

Let me tell you about Lisa, who broke free from generational cycles of abuse and neglect. Encouraged by her daughter, Lisa enrolled at Clark College, where she earned a 4.0 grade-point average. In June, Lisa will graduate with an associate degree. She plans to transfer to a four-year university to pursue a Bachelor of Psychology degree. She dreams of earning a doctorate of psychiatry, opening a mental health practice for children and adults who have experienced childhood trauma.

Lisa’s story demonstrates not only the determination of a resilient woman, but also the transformative power of a community college education. Lisa is not alone. Each of our students has climbed over obstacles as they reach toward their dream of a college degree. A better job. More opportunities. A brighter future.

I am such a believer in the transformative power of community colleges that I have dedicated my career to serving community colleges and their students for the past 30 years. I will celebrate my fourth anniversary as president of Clark College in June. I am honored to lead Clark. I can think of nowhere I would rather be.

Clark College is the community’s college. I hope you will join us on campus for an event this spring — art talks, music performances, plays, softball and baseball games or our welding open house.

You are always welcome at Clark College, where lives are transformed, and dreams are realized.


Dr. Karin Edwards is president of Clark College.

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