Feb. 10, 2020 (Middletown, Conn.) — Middlesex Community College (MxCC) invited area legislators and municipal administrators to the 10th Annual Legislative Breakfast, which was held on Tuesday, February 4, 2020, on the Middletown campus.
MxCC Chief Executive Officer Steven Minkler gave an overview of the state’s new PACT “free college” program, discussed a new master plan, highlighted major community partnerships, and introduced Middlesex students serving as legislative interns.
State and area officials who attended included Middletown Mayor Ben Florsheim, State Representatives Joseph Serra, Quentin Phipps, and Hilda Santiago, State Senator Mary Daugherty Abrams, Middlefield First Selectman Edward Bailey, and Board of Regents member and former State Speaker of the House Richard Balducci, as well as several representatives from Meriden Public Schools.
“Middlesex Community College is defined by our community with a relevant and rigorous curriculum,” said Minkler. “We may be a small college, but we have a large impact.”
PACT, the Pledge to Advance Connecticut, was created by the state’s General Assembly and is similar to “promise” programs in other states. Funding by a new iLottery is still being developed, and it is difficult to predict what the enrollment impact will be as four-year universities are becoming more competitive with community colleges. Minkler added that eligible PACT students must be a Connecticut high school graduate, attend college for the first time, register for a full-time course load (12-plus credits) and remain in good academic standing. (Visit https://www.ct.edu/pact for more information.)
MxCC has worked with four different master planning firms since 2011, all concluding that the college offers inadequate space for instruction, faculty, support services, and student gathering. The 2020 master plan presented by G3 Architecture of Stamford, Conn., found that MxCC lags behind the other community colleges in square feet per full-time student. Therefore, G3 proposed a new STEM building to connect with and completely renovate Wheaton and Snow halls, as well as build an addition to Founders Hall to create a student services one-stop center. While bond funding is available, more is needed complete these renovations, said Minkler.
Aside from providing community service work through the college’s Center for Civic Engagement, the Magic Food Bus pantry and the Veterans Memorial Garden, Middlesex Community College is continuing several partnerships with area institutions to advance educational programs. For example, the MxCC works with Meriden Public Schools to offer college classes at Platt High School in Meriden, known as MxCC@Platt.
Sherry McLaughlin, a supervisor at Meriden Public Schools, highlighted the GEAR UP grant program, which provides programming and strategies to help make Meriden seventh graders and their families college and career ready.
The radiologic technology facilities at Middlesex Health in Middletown are being upgraded in anticipation of the hospital’s 50-year anniversary with the MxCC program.
The veterinary technology program uses classroom and lab space at nearby Pieper Veterinary, and manufacturing classes are held at Wilcox and Vinal Technical High Schools in Meriden and Middletown, respectively.
Another MxCC highlight is the coveted legislative internship program. Tad Lincoln, MxCC economics and political science professor, coordinates the program with the state legislature. The 2020 student interns are Julie Budney, Samantha Cook and Riley McConnell. This is a unique and prestigious experience for community college students, since most interns in the program are juniors and seniors from four-year institutions.
“The senator really wants me to have a meaningful experience and flourish in the program. I provide research on potential bills and attend meetings with lobbyists,” said Riley McConnell, a communications major from Middletown and the intern for State Senator Eric Berthel of the 32nd District.
Sharing her MxCC experience to close out the event was veterinary technology student Lauren Feinman of Woodbury, who told the audience that she attended Middlesex Community College to make a career change later in life. She had previously earned a degree in theater and unsuccessfully pursued a career in New York City. Coming back to Connecticut, she realized she was good at science and loves cats, so she enrolled at MxCC to become a veterinary technician.
“The teachers are amazing. They work in the field and tell you what bosses want in the future,” explained Feinman, who now enjoys her work at an emergency veterinary hospital in North Haven.
Since 1966, Middlesex Community College has provided high-quality, affordable, and accessible education to a diverse population, enhancing the strengths of individuals through degree, certificate, and lifelong learning programs that lead to university transfer, employment, and an enriched awareness of our shared responsibilities as global citizens. A part of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, MxCC offers more than 70 degree or certificate programs at the 38-acre campus in Middletown, MxCC@Platt in Meriden, and online.