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Texas Community Colleges Live Up To Tom Hanks’ Praise

Kyle Smith  | Published on Tuesday, January 27, 2015

For Immediate Release: January 27, 2015

Contact: Erin Spencer

Email: erin.spencer@templejc.edu

Phone: (254) 298-8591

 

Texas Community Colleges Live Up To Tom Hanks’ Praise

 

“I Owe It All to Community College,” an op-ed piece published in The New York Times and written by Academy Award-winner Tom Hanks, gives readers insight on the impact Chabot College, a community college in Hayward, California, had on his life.

 

In the article Hanks said, “[the] classes I took at Chabot have rippled through my professional career… [They] made me what I am today.”

 

In Texas, the more than 50 community colleges located in the state boast these kinds of stories every day. According to TexasSuccess.org, a website created by the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC) and the Community College Association of Texas Trustees, the number of students enrolled in a community college has increased by more than 70 percent since 2000. That equates to about 300,000 lives touched by Texas community colleges. Nearly 60 percent of all nurses and 85 percent of all first responders in the state hold a community college certificate or degree, and 78 percent of all Texas university graduates have community college credits as part of their transcripts. In their local communities, Texas community colleges help provide a skilled and educated workforce. Over the next 10 years, Texas will have 4.8 million jobs to fill in industries ranging from manufacturing and health care to business and finance. Texas community colleges will be the first stepping stones that connect students with these careers.

 
Though not all members of their alumni have gone on to become world-famous Hollywood moguls, there are a few that are worth mentioning.
 
In Corpus Christi, Texas, Del Mar College (DMC) has spent nearly 80 years educating the residents of the South Texas Costal Bend. The list of successful alumni appearing in the public spotlight is long for DMC, ranging from actors, singers and artists to educators, politicians and athletes, and Paralympian Kevin Saunders is one of them.
 
After sustaining paralyzing injuries in a grain elevator explosion in 1981, Saunders beat the odds doctors gave him for survival, but his injuries left him paralyzed from the chest down and confined to a wheelchair. His resolve led Saunders to become one of the most dedicated and highly celebrated wheelchair athletes in America. He won Bronze, Silver and Gold Medals at national and international competitions, including the 1988 and 1992 Paralympic Games.
 
Saunders attended Del Mar College between 1986 and 1990 for kinesiology and drama studies, and served as College spokesperson and commencement speaker, promoting education as the gateway to individuals fulfilling their goals. The Del Mar alumnus’ personification as an athlete, community volunteer and role model encouraged students to pursue their own dreams – even when they faced obstacles.
 
“Going back to Del Mar College right after I was released from the hospital showed me what courage, perseverance and determination really meant,” said Saunders, “In all my endeavors I continue to use the self-confidence gained from excelling in my studies at Del Mar College to excel in other things in life, enabling me to go on to become the ‘World’s Greatest Wheelchair Athlete’ as well as one of the ‘Top 100 Motivational Speakers in America’ and a successful business leader and owner to name just a few.”
 
In 2000, the American Association of Community Colleges honored Saunders with an Outstanding Alumni Award as a representative of Del Mar College, recognizing his contributions on national and international levels. He also became an inductee as part of the College’s Wall of Honor, which recognizes honorees’ contributions as DMC alumni.
 
In Alvin, Texas, just a few miles northeast of Corpus Christi, Baseball legend Nolan Ryan and his wife Ruth have been active supporters of Alvin Community College (ACC), a community college that has been improving lives by providing affordable, accessible and innovative educational opportunities to those it serves for more than 65 years. Both former students at ACC, the Ryans have given their time and efforts to projects that have benefited the college, its students and the community. Over the years, the Ryans have provided vital financial support to ACC in the form of student scholarships and facility improvements. In 1996 they donated the Nolan Ryan Center to ACC, which is used for college and community events. It is also home to the Nolan Ryan Museum. Ruth served as an ACC trustee from 1997 to 2004 and also was a long-term board member of the Foundation.
 
While these are just two examples, there are hundreds more that show the impact Texas community colleges have had on the lives of their students, their communities and the state. More information about Texas community colleges and their importance to the Texas workforce, economy and higher education can be found at TexasSuccess.org and at TACC.org. You also can follow TACC on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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The Texas Association of Community College Marketers (TACCM) is a statewide consortium of marketing and public relations professionals for public community and technical colleges in Texas. The organization serves as a clearinghouse for information, promotes public community and technical colleges in Texas, and serves in an advisory capacity to other statewide organizations.