Written by Reading Eagle
Reading, PA — Reading Area Community College celebrated its 47th commencement Friday afternoon with a record high of 540 students earning degrees, certificates and diplomas from the community college.
“It is a privilege and a joy to see so many graduates take this step toward great success in the years ahead,” Dr. Susan D. Looney, college president, said during a ceremony in Santander Arena. “Our students and graduates continue to inspire me every day, and they will continue to make the RACC family of faculty, staff, students and alumni very proud.”
Looney, during her first graduation ceremony as RACC president, presented the President's Award to Dr. Thomas F. Flynn, president of Alvernia. Flynn started in his post in 2005 and is retiring in June.
During his tenure, Flynn has overseen the development of new strategic and campus master plans that culminated when Alvernia achieved university status in 2008.
April Conrad, who received a degree in health science, delivered the student speech. Conrad plans to work as a pediatric cardiovascular sonographer.
During her two years at RACC, Conrad showcased leadership skills as a college ambassador and peer mentor. Conrad's poetry has been published in RACC's literary magazine, Legacy.
Written by Marge Rumbaugh/Reading Eagle
Reading, PA — Dr. Susan D. Looney, president of Reading Area Community College, announced at Wednesday's board of trustees meeting that 540 students should graduate on Friday.
That is an unofficial count pending final grades, but it would be the most graduates in RACC's history.
The previous high was 510 in 2012. Last year there were 480 graduates.
This year's commencement at 2 p.m. in the Santander Arena also will feature a lower stage, compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, for disabled students.
Despite the increase, RACC has the third lowest tuition of all Pennsylvania's community colleges, Looney said.
Becoming a nurse was always a dream for Stephanie Ritchey. After overcoming some life challenges, she finally made that dream a reality by graduating from RACC. “Learning the art and science of nursing at RACC taught me compassionate care, efficient time management, and adherence to the principles of safe practice.”
Stephanie graduated with honors from Daniel Boone High School, continued her education as a biology major at Villanova University, and became a patient care technician. She relocated to Berks County and decided to continue her education. Staying in her community was important to her when choosing a school, but location wasn’t the only reason she selected RACC. “RACC’s reputation spoke for itself. I heard that the RACC nursing program was rigorous and challenging but would provide a strong base for my nursing career. Plus, attending RACC afforded me the experience of performing my clinical hours in locations where I could potentially work after graduation.”
Stephanie was hired at Penn State Health St. Joseph before graduating RACC with an AAS in nursing. St. Joseph was one of the hospitals where Stephanie performed her clinicals while a student at RACC. Now as an RN, she enjoys being able to teach the current RACC students in their clinical rotations at St. Joseph. “When I was a student many of my nurses were former RACC students. Now I’ve assumed the role of taking RACC students under my wing. It felt really good to once be on the receiving end of that mentorship, and now be a mentor myself…I love that feeling.”
The education Stephanie received at RACC not only gave her the knowledge to guide students, but it also prepared her to become a very successful nurse. “I learned important time management, safety skills, and to be accountable for my actions. The program was a process of learning to think, act and react like a nurse. My professors taught me how to think differently, critically.” Stephanie has several RACC professors to thank, Kathy Evans, Karen Hartman, and Mihaela Pendos, for challenging and inspiring her to think, learn and teach in new ways. But of all of her teachers, Professor Joan Zupicick made the biggest impact on Stephanie. “Professor Joan taught me about the kind of nurse I aspire to be. Her faith in me makes me want to be not just a better nurse, but a better human being. She is with me, guiding me during every shift I work.”
Stephanie is currently working toward her bachelor’s degree at Chamberlain University and has started the application to be a volunteer disaster relief nurse for the American Red Cross. Stephanie’s nursing career is just getting started thanks to her commitment to hard work and the educational foundation she established while at RACC. “The experiences and relationships you make at RACC form the foundation for a successful career, whatever your path.”
READING, PA — Alpha Sigma Rho, Reading Area Community College’s Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Chapter, attended the PT
READING, PA — Alpha Sigma Rho, Reading Area Community College’s Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Chapter, attended the PTK International Convention (Catalyst) in Orlando, Florida on April 4-6, 2019. The convention hosted the Hallmark Awards, a major program of PTK International, which engages members to participate in activities supporting the Society’s Hallmarks of Scholarship, Leadership, Service and Fellowship. Chapters submit reports on their work in several areas, and the submissions are then judged competitively. Individuals, chapters and regions are recognized for their excellence in support of these hallmarks.
Led by RACC Professor Emerita Dr. Donna Hampton Singleton, RACC faculty member Dr. Danelle Bower and RACC faculty member Ms. Denise Strohmayr, the RACC PTK Chapter won three significant Chapter awards, and five individual awards. The chapter awards are: Top 100 Chapters-among the top 100 chapters internationally; Distinguished Honors in Action award-for their academic exploration of how people communicate in today’s society; and the Distinguished Chapter award-this is awarded to chapters based on cumulative scores in the Hallmark activities.
The following four individuals received awards for outstanding work in PTK: Valerie Mackey (Chapter Vice President)-GEICO Pathways to Completion Bachelor’s Degree Scholar; Judith Croteau-Coca-Cola Academic Team Scholar; Leann Wolf-Distinguished Chapter Member Award for her significant work supporting chapter activities, and RACC President Dr. Susan Looney-Paragon Award for new college presidents.
“This Chapter worked extremely hard to get here, and now the work, determination and dedication has paid off. This group is a family, and we hope that other PTK members will step up, get active, and continue to lead our team even further in the years to come,” says PTK advisor, and RACC faculty member Dr. Danelle Bower.
PTK students have a 91 percent student success rate, and research has shown that strong presidential leadership and support of PTK increases member success and the depth of their college experience.
The Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society recognizes academic achievement of community college students and provides opportunities for them to grow as scholars and leaders. For more information about Phi Theta Kappa at Reading Area Community College, please call 610.372.4721.
HARRISBURG, PA — At the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges’ Annual Lobby Day at the Capitol today,
HARRISBURG, PA — At the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges’ Annual Lobby Day at the Capitol today, RACC students, staff and President Dr. Susan Looney joined Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges to advocate for an increased funding level in the 2019-20 fiscal year budget.
Pennsylvania Community Colleges are the largest provider of public postsecondary education in the Commonwealth and a sector that plays a significant role in the Commonwealth’s education and workforce development systems.
In the 2017-18 academic year, Pennsylvania’s community colleges enrolled more than 300,000 students from all 67 counties in the state. They also provided a foundation for nearly 35,000 students who sought transfer to four-year institutions, saving these students up to $20,000 on the cost of higher education.
RACC President, Dr. Susan Looney says “Community colleges offer our communities access, opportunity, excellence and hope. When a student walks through our doors, we offer them the opportunity to change their lives for the better.”
Pennsylvania community colleges offer high-quality education and workforce programs aligned with areas of critical workforce needs across the Commonwealth. The 14 colleges regularly consult with business partners to develop programs to meet state and local workforce needs, while fueling Pennsylvania’s economic recovery.
In his budget address, Gov. Wolf indicated that Pennsylvania needs to address the skills gap to ensure that Pennsylvania has a well-trained workforce. He established a goal of 60 percent of Pennsylvania residents having some form of postsecondary education by 2025.
“Pennsylvania community colleges are ready to assist individuals who want to improve their lives by earning a certificate, enrolling in technical training, attaining an associate degree or preparing for further education,” said Elizabeth Bolden, president & CEO of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges. “The colleges are committed to increasing access to quality, affordable higher education in the Commonwealth. We hope the General Assembly will support us in this mission by increasing funding for community colleges.”