One student’s perspective on a college initiative designed to help students succeed
by Alexia Davis
The photo of a student in a graduation cap and gown that accompanies the DCCC “Think 30” initiative. Photo courtesy of Delaware County Community College
I think about numbers a lot. The number of meals I will prepare for my family in a year is 1095. I will wash, fold and put away approximately 730 loads of laundry in a year and spend at least 104 hours running errands.
Then, there are the smaller numbers. I have one home with a mortgage and maintenance needs. I have two children, ages 6 and 7, for whom I have an enormous responsibility.
The numbers don’t stop, which is why I refuse to buy into the “Think 30” initiative at DCCC.
The message of the program seems clear. Students should take 30 credits per year so they can complete their degree in two years. In the end, students will be like the photo accompanying the initiative, graduates smiling in their caps and gowns.
When I began my journey at DCCC almost four years ago, I knew what I wanted. I also understood, having been in the workforce, that a degree is nothing if it stands alone. Only growth and knowledge can make it meaningful.
My success, I decided, would always be measured by the knowledge I acquired. If I wasn’t learning, I was failing, regardless of what my grades reflected. That is why I have never taken more than three courses per semester.
I remember sneaking back to the computer to work on assignments while my kids napped or became preoccupied with an activity. Then, after tucking my babies in at night, I would again return to the computer, hoping for enough energy to get some more school work done.
I am not alone. In my time at DCCC I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know many individuals. I learned that the majority of them are also raising a family, working fulltime jobs or both.
Those on the “Think 30” path admit to doing the bare minimum to get through and pass their courses. Even if they wanted to be getting more from their education, they couldn’t because there’s simply no time. Their academic career must always run parallel to the responsibilities of the real world.
Of course, it would be ideal if all students could manage and maintain the momentum needed to get their degree in a fixed amount of time. But at what cost?
There is an underlying message, whether intentional or not, in the DCCC “Think 30” initiative. That message is “just push through and get it done.” It is a message that shows no concern for the process of learning or the real success that comes from quality education.
It is a message that no educational institution should ever support. It is also a message that lacks any regard for the importance of maintaining a high grade point average (GPA).
Students who take on more than they can handle risk sabotaging their GPA, and in turn, their educational opportunities when it comes time to transfer. I can say with certainty that my GPA, currently a 4.0, would not have been possible if I had been on the “Think 30” path.
The goal of every student should not be to “just get it done.” It should be growth and knowledge, two things which drive momentum and motivation. That is the path to success, at least in my experience.
It’s time to rethink “Think 30.” We have enough numbers in our lives. What we need, is to “Think Success.”
Contact Alexia Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org. edu
A sign on the DCCC Downingtown campus conflicts with schoolwide “Think 30” initiative. Photo by Alexia Davis
My father, born and raised in Delaware County, is what many have refer to as a ‘pure bred’ Delconian.
Being a former resident of Sharon Hill, my father is built tough and has more grit than any man I have met.
When he decided to be a voice for our people, our family and community supported him in his new endeavor.
He decided to run for our newly vacated House of Representative seat in the 162 district of Pennsylvania.
What followed for the next few months of campaigning was truly the most invigorating and demonizing process.
Following his announcement, my father’s campaign immediately consumed all of his time. It started with trying to qualify for candidacy, which is done through canvasing, a practice of going door-to-door and gathering signatures from citizen members.
He needed to gather 300 signatures over a very short amount of time, three weeks.
Often, my father would recieve help from our close family friends and word of mouth.
The task seemed daunting and highly unlikely, considering the Republican machine in our neighborhood.
Almost miraculously, he cleared 933 constituent signatures over three weeks.
However, his stress level during the campaign was incomparable to anything I had ever seen.
Often, my father would confide in me to clear his head through long conversations, playing billiards or working on the old Chevy and Jeep.
May 15, 2018 was a day I will not forget. Typically, my father is very stoic. He shows emotion when needed, but is often reserved.
That day, my father smiled like a child, speaking with every person he saw. He won the primary nomination for the Democratic candidacy for State Representative in the 162nd District of Pennsylvania, his hometown.
But, the next five months told a strenuous tale.
Although unopposed in the primary within his own party, the local Republicans wrote in Mary Hopper, former Delaware County Sheriff.
Suddenly, it went from a win to a race overnight.
I had no idea how mentally and physically exhausted my father could be. He is a rock solid individual, yet some nights I would encounter him seemingly broken at 3 a.m. on our living room couch.
He would sit straight up, face in the palms of his hands, motionless. This angered me, but also terrified me, so I would let him be and make my way upstairs.
Most times, my father is inconsolable. It is his own strength he wants to find, not reinforcement from others. I respect him for this greatly.
His hard work on the campaign trail came about with a great group of volunteers, a more than phenomenal campaign manager, and my dads own drive to serve his friends in the big house.
My father was never shy to vocalize his concerns for the campaigns hardships.
A Republican mailer contained an image of my father, photoshopped, holding a stack of cash. The smear-campaign conveyed my father boasting that he claimed a 343 percent pay increase, netting him over $1 million.
The outlandish attempts to skew voters from my father were mediocre at best and had little success.
Throughout my father’s campaign, he and his constituents who viewed the mailer joked, questioning why a millionaire would reside in such a small town and even asked for a share of his wealth.
Despite his stern persona, my father can be tremendously funny, and the ad became the butt of many jokes.
Needless to say, the slanderous mail failed. My father fought the better fight, rode a wave of decency and had the backing of his people to be victorious by a margin of 1.5 points.
In his victory, my father remained, as anticipated, composed. He held his zen at the after polling party at Haggerty’s bar in Holmes. When he arrived, you would have just thought he was a guy catching a drink on any other Tuesday night.
Surrounded by his family, campaign organizers, local union brothers and even a few of my good friends, my father gave a speech, short in nature as usual. He thanked everyone who believed in him to be a voice that they have not had in Harrisburg.
At home that night, I caught him sitting on the living room ouch again. Only this time, the silence was different. I sensed he felt at ease and secure with his victory.
As he told many who asked about his chances of winning, he repeated the same mantra: he had never lost an election in his life.
Whether it was his fifth grade Student Council, his candidacy for the union presidency and, now, a seat in our states capitol.
With his new job, he is taking his best efforts and ability with him. It is a well deserved victory for the man who has taught me to be gracious with every move, even victory.
Contact David Delloso at email@example.com
As the world knows, first lady Melania Trump took a safari in Kenya on Friday in a pair of slim-fitting khakis, knee-length boots, a crisp white shirt, and topping it all off a hard white hat of the type made popular by colonizers.
The offending accessory has a name. It’s called a pith helmet, and it shows up in pop culture all the time in stories like Tarzan, where Africans are depicted as savages tamed at the hand of Europeans.
Laura Seay, an assistant professor at Colby College who studies African politics, told NPR that in some cases pith helmets were worn because colonialists were afraid of high levels of radiation in the tropics. (That unscientific theory, like many built on ignorance, was eventually debunked.) They were routinely worn by colonial military personnel.
Cue the visceral reaction.
Frankly, I’m tired of writing about the drama tangential to the Trump White House. As with the president’s Twitter feed, we focus on the lady Trump’s fashion _ and move away from the issues at hand.
I want to ignore her. Why give this woman any more ink or, more important, any of my precious time?
But the reality is we can’t afford to look away because these outfits are costumes of white supremacy. And we’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t see them as such.
The optics are important, and the first lady’s handlers are keenly aware of this. They are yet another dog whistle for the white-supremacist fringe who’d prefer not to see people of color in “their” country, and if they do would rather they be the help.
On Saturday, journalists asked Trump about her Friday ensemble. And standing in front of Egypt’s Great Sphinx in yet another white hat _ this one more favored historically by segregationists rather than colonizers _ she told reporters “I wish people focus on what I do, not what I wear.”
Oh, for the love of God.
This is from the first lady who carefully curates everything, starting with her appearance in a powder-blue Jackie Kennedy-esque ensemble at President Trump’s inauguration and extending to that Zara drawstring jacket emblazoned with the words “I really don’t care, do u?”
So I won’t _ no, I can’t _ ignore this Columbus Day weekend choice to promote her “Be Best” campaign wearing khaki-hued ensembles inextricably linked to some of the world’s most violent colonizers.
Visiting the center of the slave trade, including Ghana’s Cape Coast Castle, the former model posed as though she were in a fashion magazine center spread, wearing the outfits of men who’d committed some of world history’s most awful monstrosities.
But she wasn’t in a make-believe world created by fashion directors to entice us to buy clothes. This was real-life images embracing colonialism.
Traditionally, it is the first lady who acts as the well-dressed conscience of the country. She represents what she wants America to be to the world. She is the country’s face of kindness. She is what America aspires to be.
I was halfway up the hill on hole seven at Springfield Country Club when my knees buckled. I didn’t know what was happening, but I was going down.
My team hovered over me when I opened my eyes. They looked as confused as I was. My whole body ached with cold sweats despite the heat of August.
Lab Corps drew blood at 7:30 a.m., but before samples were sent the diagnosis was given. On Sept. 5, 2014 I was diagnosed with type 1 juvenile onset diabetes.
I was 16.
The severity of the situation did not become apparent until my mother teared up. I had no idea that a lifelong battle was to ensue.
Juvenile onset diabetes is defined as a chronic condition where the pancreas produces little-to-no insulin, a hormone that regulates the glucose levels in our blood.
Living as a type 1 diabetic, I need to give myself insulin through injections. That alone is a rough existence. After being diagnosed, it was a hard idea to grasp.
Juvenile diabetes is a game of ups and downs. As a patient, I have experienced hospitalization, interruption of my education, severe anxiety surrounding my condition, and a compromised lifestyle.
However, since my four years of being diagnosed, the most horrific event was the U.S. House of Representatives vote to pass healthcare “reform” in 2017.
The GOP Healthcare Reform Bill proposed an alteration to the mandate to allow people with pre-existing conditions to purchase health insurance policies. Although created and presented by President Donald Trump via mass media, Republicans had to endorse the idea.
If denied health insurance, many type 1 diabetic patients would face mental and physical trauma.
For instance, insulin prices are sky high. According to Truven Heath Analytics, there has been an over 700 percent price increase since 1996 on fast-acting insulins like Humolog. In 1996, a vile sold for $21; in 2016, the same viles sold for $225.
The national average of income remaining after routine bills for Americans is roughly $1,700 monthly. For a diabetic like myself, I use an average of four viles of insulin per month, all manufactured by Novo Dorisk. Fortunately, with coverage, I pay nearly nothing for them, yet others are not so lucky.
Monthly, an uncovered diabetic may spend $800 to $1,000 on insulin, not including testing supplies, needles and backup supplies. It is not just a hardship, but a matter of life or death.
Many stories of the tragic, untimely deaths of young men and women unable to afford insulin on and off insurance policies arise more often than I would like. Most recently I read a testimony of a spouse to a diabetic. She watched her husband perish as he faced Diabetic Ketoacidosis.
Diabetic Ketoacidosis, or DKA, is the main cause of death from complications while managing type 1 and 2 diabetes. It is a mass build up of sugar in the blood which draws out nearly all the water from cells, resulting in organ shutdown and rapid deterioration, all of which is corrected and avoided by insulin injection.
I faced short bouts of DKA at the onset of my diagnosis and the pain and nausea experienced is something comparable to nothing I had ever experienced before.
For young adults like me, it is imperative to not only manage my condition for health purposes, but necessary to keep well documented records in that event that insurance companies deny my well being in the future.
At 20 years old, the thought of that as a possibility is truly unnerving.
In a short six years, when I move off my parents’ health insurance plan, I too will be at the mercy of the insurance companies if I don’t have a well paying job with solid health insurance. I don’t live in fear, but I am also a realist.
Therefore, I use my resources at DCCC to advance my education on the issue, make connections with other patients, and strive to succeed for myself and my condition.
The stakes are forever high. If the Republicans continue to get their way, they may literally kill me.
So be active in your civic duties to help a friend, student and neighbor, like myself, to continue to thrive.
Millennials have the potential to become a powerful force in the upcoming midterms, and nowhere are young voters poised to make their voices heard more loudly than in Pennsylvania.
The Keystone State has seen the sharpest increase across the nation with 61 percent of new voter registrations coming from young voters, according to findings by the Democrat data firm TargetSmart.
Voter registrations continue to stream in ahead of the state’s deadline on Oct. 9 and the absentee ballot deadline on Nov. 2.
The recent surge in Democrat voter registration has landed Delaware County second in the state for voter gains, outdone only by neighboring Montgomery County, according to statistics compiled by Delaware County Democrats.
Additionally, a majority of Pennsylvania high schools report registering 85 percent of their eligible voters statewide, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State. As a result, young voters outnumber their older counterparts for the first time in state history by 4.4 percent.
In fact, the 2018 midterms are projected to be the first ever U.S. elections in which there are more young Americans eligible to vote than their elder counterparts nationwide.
Moreover, 59 percent of millennial voters favor the Democratic Party, according to political data by the Pew Research Center
Nevertheless, it still remains anybody’s guess if young Americans will actually show up at the polls and help shift the majority control of Congress back to Democrats.
Traditionally, young voters across the nation do not vote in large numbers. Findings from Tufts University’s National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement (NSLVE) data suggests roughly just “one out of every five” students who registered to vote.
Optimism that younger Americans tend to vote Democrat is offset because they are traditionally less reliable voters in midterm elections, compared to the more mature base of Republican voters.
Recent polling underscored the real risk that millennial voters won’t turn out as hoped. Just 28 percent of young adults say they are committed to voting in the 2018 midterm elections, as determined in a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute (PPRI).
In contrast, an overwhelming 74 percent of surveyed seniors nationwide have pledged to vote with “absolute certainty” in the upcoming elections.
Since Pennsylvania’s dormant constituency of young voters happens to be the state’s largest voting bloc, some progressive advocacy groups organized a grassroots campaign earlier this year hoping to capitalize at the ballot box.
Last April, super- PAC NextGen America launched efforts to target college campuses, including community colleges across the county, as it hopes to flip six Congressional seats into Democrats hands Nov. 6.
Two of these seats include Delaware County’s vacant 5th District Congressional seat formerly held by U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan (R., Pa.) and Chester County’s 6th District Congressional seat held by Rep. Ryan Costello (R., Pa.)
Withal, the Keystone State will hold elections for the U.S. House and Senate, the Governor’s seat, and the Commonwealth’s General Assembly on Nov. 6.
NextGen America has reported that more than 5,000 students at Pennsylvania colleges have registered to vote since the start of the fall 2018 semester, with more work in the final weeks leading up to the elections, according to the state director of NextGen America Jarrett Smith.
“Once a person registers to vote with us, we continue to stay in contact to educate them about their candidates, polling places, and to ensure they know when election day is,” Smith explained. “The stakes are just too high to sit this election cycle out, and the fact that young people are registering at such high numbers demonstrates the urgency of this election. Voting is the only way to make sure that their voices — the voices of the people who study here, work here, live here — are heard.”
Another key factor that could lure young Americans to the voting booths this fall is President Donald J. Trump’s approval ratings.
A recent poll by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics found 72 percent of millennial voters disapprove of President Trump’s job performance, while just 25 percent of their generation approve of the Republican president’s performance.
Voting patterns of young Americans have proven to be a key indicator of voting behavior, according to research by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE).
Key takeaways confirm that voting is habit-forming, so when young people learn the voting process and vote, then they are more likely to vote in future elections.
More importantly, the largest population of American voters are not Democrats, Republicans, or even Independents.
Undoubtedly, it’s the one hundred million “non-voters” who account for the vast majority of eligible voters in the nation that ultimately have the greatest impact on U.S. elections by default.
Still, the low turnout rates of young voters remain deeply worrisome heading into the midterms regardless of the recent gains in young voter registration. The urgency for college students and millennials to show up to the ballot box this November and pull their electoral power into practice is crucial.
American democracy and the fundamental freedoms that the forefathers inked are at risk.
Student debt continues to skyrocket, a single trip to the emergency room is certain to financially cripple most uninsured young Americans, a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body, diverse equality, and national gun control measures all hang in the balance.
Other concerns to carry to the ballot box include the numerous warnings coming from former and current members within the Trump administration that portray him as a president who has come “unhinged.”
The scathing reports continue to haunt the political establishment suggesting Trump is “unfit” as Commander in Chief, leaving some voters to cringe in disbelief ahead of the midterms.
One of Trump’s most outspoken critics raising serious concerns regarding his conduct is former Republican New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman.
“The president’s behavior has troubled me from the very beginning,” Whitman explained during an interview with NowThis News. “His language that he uses, his demonizing people, his dismissing people and marginalizing them has always been problematic. I think he’s undermining some of the very basic tenets that really form our democracy. He admires strong leaders, but his definition of strong is more on the dictatorship side than on a strong democrat if leader.
Trump said early on that he thought Kim Jong-in did a wonderful job being so young and taking over his country. Well, I guess that’s okay if you don’t mind that he uses machine guns to eviscerate those who oppose him or gets someone else to go poison his brother.”
To “not vote” undermines the tribulations and sacrifices of all those in times past who fought for the liberties and freedoms of today.
It’s easy to take representation for granted in the US, but with the issues and obstacles effecting most young Americans today, it’s a risk not worth taking.
No matter which political party you support, be sure to make your voices heard in November.
More information about voter registration is available at PaVoterServices.pa.gov
Contact Victoria LaVelle at firstname.lastname@example.org