Mercer County Community College (MCCC) has announced the launch of an innovative experiential learning program for this spring, partnering with area businesses to integrate relevant job experience into a student’s course of study.
“One of the great challenges for many students who are studying to attain an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree is the need to work to support their own college and living expenses, or to contribute to their family financially,” said MCCC President Dr. Jianping Wang. “They often miss out on job-related internship experiences, and need more time to complete their course of study and graduate.”
To address that challenge, the college launched a partnership with Genesis Biotechnology Group (GBG), which offers Mercer students access to a Certificate of Proficiency as a Medical Office Assistant, while maintaining income through a paid internship for the entire one-year duration of the program. In addition, this partnership will guarantee employment with a GBG subsidiary for graduates who successfully complete the program.
“I believe that if we can relieve students from their need to work at jobs that are not related to their studies while completing their AAS programs, we would enable them to study full-time and provide meaningful work experiences while earning academic credits, thus allowing them to graduate within the ideal two to three-year period,“ Wang said.
MCCC is developing a similar partnership with Domain Computer Services of Cranbury, N.J., a technology solutions provider serving New Jersey and the New York metropolitan area. The partnership with Domain will provide short-term network cabling training and certification, which will lead to immediate workforce placement.
MCCC is also designing a custom Network Engineering Technology degree program with Domain, one which will address market demand for certified information technology contractors and consultants. MCCC and Domain are currently customizing a program that will include paid field internships as a component of a product for small- and medium-sized businesses.
In addition, MCCC and the Security Industry Association (SIA) are partnering to provide collaborative course instruction, internship placement, and career pathways for MCCC students enrolled in the college’s Security Systems Technology degree program. SIA provides full support for the lab equipment and instruction to provide students the most up-to-date technology and techniques from industry experts. The degree prepares students for employment in marketing, installation, management, and technical support for physical security systems technologies in an array of network environments. The first class began at Mercer’s James Kerney Campus during the fall 2016 semester.
Wang noted that 63 percent of Mercer students in career programs study part-time due to the need to work, and that the experiential learning program can provide a clear path to guaranteed employment, provide income for students while they gain relevant job experience, and ultimately make them better prepared employees in the Mercer County workforce, and beyond.
“The goal of our experiential learning program is to enable our students to complete their education in a year or two, to obtain gainful employment immediately upon graduation, and to provide employers with a better trained and ready workforce,” Wang said. “This is a win-win-win-win for students, their parents, employers, and our communities.”
Mercer County Community College Receives Top Ranking on National Military-Friendly Schools List
Mercer County Community College (MCCC) has been named the number one military-friendly school among all two-year colleges in the nation by Victory Media, a provider of informational resource material to U.S. active duty military personnel, veterans, and spouses.
“Our ability to apply a clear, consistent standard to the majority of colleges gives veterans a comprehensive view of which schools are striving to provide the best opportunities and conditions for our nation’s student veterans,” said Daniel Nichols, a Navy Reserve veteran and Chief Product Officer at Victory Media.
This is the second honor MCCC has received in recent months for its service to student veterans. During the college’s annual Sept. 11 Remembrance Ceremony, the New Jersey Military Order of the Purple Heart presented MCCC with a proclamation in recognition of being named a Purple Heart Community College – the first two-year college in New Jersey to receive the designation.
“Our student veterans put their education on hold in service to our nation, and we recognize our responsibility in helping them transition back to civilian life,” said Dr. Jianping Wang, MCCC president. “We have listened t
o their concerns and needs, and we responded.”
Recent improvements at MCCC include the creation of a Veterans Resource Center and study area. Currently, 153 Mercer students have veteran status, including active duty and members of the Guard and Reserves.
Victory Media, publisher of G.I. Jobs®, STEM Jobs, and Military Spouse, established the Military Friendly® Schools rankings in 2009. It is provided to service members and their families, helping them select the best college, university, or trade school to receive the education and training needed to pursue a civilian career.
Institutions earning the Military Friendly® School designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from Victory Media’s proprietary survey. Rating criteria includes student retention, graduation, job placement, loan repayment, degree advancement/transfer, especially for student veterans.
John Becker, director of veterans services at MCCC, said the designation was earned through a lot of hard work that includes individuals from across campus – from Admissions to Advising to Career and Transfer Services, and a dedicated faculty.
“This was certainly a team effort,” Becker said. “It begins with understanding the needs of our students, particularly our student veterans. They contribute to the college culture through their commitment, knowledge, and life experiences, and it is our duty to reward them for their service, both in the past and in the present.”
MCCC student and military veteran Mark Lauder of Trenton, a Criminal Justice major, said the environment at Mercer helped him make the transition to civilian life and enabled him to move forward with his academic and career goals. He will graduate from MCCC in January and will continue his studies at Thomas Edison State University.
“The student-to-professor ratio is excellent and the class schedules are flexible for working students like me,” Lauder said. “I have had the resources I needed to excel.”
MCCC will be showcased along with other 2017 Military Friendly® Schools in the annual Guide to Military Friendly® Schools, special education issues of G .I. Jobs® and Military Spouse, and on militaryfriendly.com.
Seated from left, Princeton University doctoral students Daniel Berbecel (Comparative Politics), Merle Eisenberg (History), Sarah Islam (Near Eastern Studies) and Hope Rogers (English); standing, from left, Dr. Alexandra Salas, MCCC Dean for Innovation, Online Learning and Student Success; Dr. Jianping Wang, MCCC President; MCCC faculty mentors Laura Sosa (Business Administration), Diane Rizzo (English), and Dr. Daniel Schermond, (Sociology); Amy Pszczolkowski, Princeton University’s Assistant Dean for Professional Development in the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School; Dr. Robert Kleinschmidt, MCCC Dean for Liberal Arts, and Dr. David Edwards, Vice President for Academic Affairs. Not pictured: MCCC faculty mentor Holly-Katharine Johnson (English).Princeton Graduate Students Head to Mercer County Community College to Prepare for Teaching Opportunities
In an exciting and innovative new partnership that promises major benefits for both institutions, Mercer County Community College (MCCC) and Princeton University (PU) have launched a Community College Teaching Partnership program this spring.
Under the agreement, four MCCC faculty members are mentoring four PU doctoral students with a comprehensive orientation to the community college environment during the spring semester. The PU students will then teach in their disciplines as MCCC adjunct instructors in the fall.
According to Dr. David Edwards, MCCC Vice President for Academic Affairs, this semester, the Princeton doctoral students are spending time in the classroom with their faculty mentors, attending college events and committee meetings, and taking advantage of professional development opportunities through the college’s Division of Innovation, Online Learning and Student Success. The MCCC faculty mentors include Laura Sosa (Business Administration), Diane Rizzo (English), Dr. Daniel Schermond (Sociology) and Holly-Katharine Johnson (English).
Cole Crittenden, Deputy Dean of the Princeton University Graduate School, believes the Mercer-Princeton program will provide an excellent introduction into the teaching field for the university’s graduate students. “They will be mentored by master teachers at Mercer and learn more about approaches to teaching in the community college context. The program will also introduce our students to online and hybrid teaching models that are used in community colleges,” he said. Princeton approached MCCC with the proposal last fall.
PU student Sarah Islam, who is now several weeks into the program, says the experience has been extraordinarily fulfilling so far and the guidance of her MCCC faculty mentor, Professor Daniel Schermond, has been extremely helpful.
“Not only do I have the opportunity to meet with Professor Schermond weekly to discuss productive teaching methods and inclusive teaching approaches, but I am also shadowing him as he attends departmental meetings and teaches courses,” Islam said. “All four of us are receiving personalized training in teaching a diverse student body and getting the opportunity to be trained and certified as instructors proficient in teaching online and hybrid courses. I look toward to teaching my own course next semester and I cannot think of a better way to solidly prepare myself for the next stage of my career.”
Sarah Schwarz, PU’s Associate Director of the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning, was instrumental in conceptualizing and designing the teaching partnership program. “I’m thrilled to see a structured program in place for Princeton graduate students to gain mentored teaching experience and expand their teaching skills in the diverse community college environment,” Schwarz said.
Dr. Edwards describes the multiple benefits to both institutions. “This will be an intellectual exchange between faculty members at Mercer who have expertise in teaching in today’s community college classrooms and doctoral candidates interested in teaching in the community college setting. MCCC students will benefit from the exchange through the expertise these doctoral students will share in the classroom on their dissertation topics.”