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President Bicknell: NH's Community Colleges Are Poised To Speed Recovery

Posted: May 17, 2021
by President Bicknell

YOU MAY have heard recently that the Community College System of New Hampshire will offer a free class this fall to 2021 New Hampshire high school graduates at any of the state’s seven community colleges. It is a celebration of sorts; it’s a gift to a group of students who’ve had a particularly tough senior year, and it’s a reflection of the very positive reality that our system has come through the pandemic and is moving forward with momentum.

First stop: Manchester Community College graduation ceremony on May 25 at Northeast Delta Dental stadium. I’m excited to host my first in-person event as MCC president, since taking the job last year amidst the pandemic. We will also be celebrating our 75th commencement since MCC was founded in 1945 as a school for returning World War II veterans.

It’s natural to look back on this past year and reflect on the things that were lost during this difficult period, but that’s not really my style. I am a “look to the horizon” kind of person and I am really excited about what I see.

For New Hampshire students, there is an important new opportunity following the pandemic: as we move toward normal operations, anyone interested in college classes of any kind would be wise to take a good look at our campuses and offerings now because there are an unprecedented number of scholarships and grants available.

There are millions of dollars available to students in the wake of COVID-19. To spur job training, to attract people back to campus, and to provide a new opportunity to all those who seek a new start, MCC is positioned to offer an unprecedented level of financial assistance. In fact, more students than ever will attend MCC at minimal to no cost! This is an incredible opportunity.

And it seems people are ready. MCC’s summer class registrations are higher than they were pre-COVID. Registrations for the fall of 2021 are on pace to easily match the fall of 2019. We return to on-campus learning at 100% levels on Aug. 30. I, for one, cannot wait to see the students, faculty and staff again.

And when they return, students will find we have some exciting programs available. For example, MCC is offering a cybersecurity program to students; a field that is growing rapidly and requires a specific high-tech skill set you can get right here in Manchester.

MCC has also added onto its very successful automotive technology program with a logical expansion: power sports. Outdoor riding equipment is as popular as it has ever been, but let’s face it, you need someone to fix the machines when they break down. MCC is proud to be one of the first in the region to offer this program for those wishing to enhance their auto tech backgrounds and expand into something new.

In the meantime, we are working to expand partnerships in the health care field, with more enriched offerings connected to career paths at area hospitals, clinics and health care facilities of all kinds. The MCC Licensed Nurses Assistant (LNA) program through MCC’s Workforce Development Center continues to grow and we are excited to be working with Catholic Medical Center and Elliot Hospital to ensure our students have access to great training in the medical field.

Finally, this summer, MCC will host one of the largest gatherings of Manchester students since before the pandemic with our friends at GEAR UP. It’s a six-week program designed to showcase the many career pathways available at MCC for rising sophomore high school students. We want to ensure the next generation of leaders knows we are here to help.

Manchester Community College and the entire Community College System of New Hampshire are poised to surge ahead with educational excellence. Come see for yourself.

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