Chemeketa Community Colleges Woodburn campus held its third Community Conversation event last Wednesday, with nearly 50 community members providing input as to how the college can be more ingrained in the Woodburn community.
Cheryl Roberts, Chemeketas president who recently announced she accepted a job in Seattle, opened the event held in downtown Woodburn, asking, How can we create a college-going culture in our county?
Attendees split into groups to brainstorm answers to questions like, Who needs to be involved? Where can collaboration help? What prohibits collaboration? and How can we overcome our obstacles?
Some suggestions included engaging more parents, focusing on vocational training and collaborating more with the Woodburn School District. Susan Murray, dean of high school programs, pointed out that the relationship between the two educational institutions is already very strong, especially when it comes to the school districts Fifth Year Program, which allows students to delay graduation a year in order to earn college credits through Chemeketa for free. This impacts Woodburns graduation rate, with 22 percent of students taking part in the Fifth Year Program.
And those students are at the top of the list for scholarships because they are great students, Murray said. Woodburn schools are the top of the line in terms of collaboration.
Overall, organizers noticed a similar pattern in that there are many beneficial outreach programs already available to people, but they seem to operate in silos.
Perhaps we need a central clearinghouse for information, one community member suggested.
Another presenter noticed the lack of representatives from the agricultural, industrial and retail sectors at the meeting. Yet another pointed out that everyone needs to consider that todays students are training for jobs that dont even exist yet, with the ever-changing technology of today.
Roberts closed the event thanking the participants for their feedback.
We pledge to collect this information and bring it back, she said. We know we cant do this alone.