Keeping the word “community” in community college was the theme of this year’s State of the College address.
Held Oct. 25 on the fourth floor of Monroe Bank and Trust’s downtown headquarters, the event overlooked the very community it was pledging to support.
Moderated by President Kojo Quartey, the address featured a variety of speakers who focused on the millage and the importance of the college.
Quartey started the presentation by going over some of the positive changes, such as the new partnership with Spring Arbor, enrollment and the reemergence of the Whitman Center.
“After several years of decline, enrollment has started to stabilize,” Quartey said. “The Whitman Center, which we were discussing shutting down, is vibrant again.”
Often quoting notable authors when discussing how MCCC changed his life, Al Barron, Monroe Township Supervisor and MCCC alumus, gave an entertaining presentation
“I never let my schooling interfere with my education,” Barron said, while quoting Mark Twain.
He also addressed those who opposed the millage.
“I hear those who ask, ‘I don’t use the college. Why do I have to pay for it?’ My answer is simple – we live in a community. A community is we, not me,” Barron said. “If you think education is expensive, what do you think ignorance costs.”
Julie Bestie Waltz, an MCCC alumnus and secretary of the American Nuclear Society – Michigan and Ohio session, spoke about the ways that MCCC has changed her life.
Bestie Waltz shared about the uncertainty she felt as an employee of the automotive industry during the 2008 crisis.
“I happened to see an ad in the Monroe Evening News for the MCCC nuclear engineering technology program.” Bestie Waltz said. “I spoke with Mark Hall and decided to try out a class.”
The education Bestie Waltz received at MCCC helped support her plans.
“Thank goodness the college was there for me,” Bestie Waltz said.
Current MCCC student Gunner Badillo was the last speaker, however, his words were some of the most powerful.
Dressed in a suit, bowtie, and MCCC cap, Badillo spoke about his life before college.
“I was at The Orchard and close to dropping out,” Badillo said. “Luckily I was given a chance at MCCC.”
Badillo has been accompanying Quartey going door-to-door for the millage.
“I saw a cause that I felt strongly for,” Badillo said. “If I don’t step up, I can’t expect anyone else to.”
He said that the community response to the millage has been positive.
“People have been responding very well. A lot of people just don’t know what they have to do. They at first see us as solicitor’s and say no,” Badillo said. “As soon as I tell them I’m from the college, they listen.”
Quartey closed the meeting by emphasizing the importance of the millage.
“Two weeks is an eternity in politics,” Quartey said. “We appreciate whatever help you can give us.”
“Let’s keep the word community in community college. It’s important,” Quartey said. “It’s essentially our middle name.”