WELLESLEY HILLS, MA (April 17, 2010) - President Barack Obama recently singled out community colleges as a pipeline to employment, giving students of all ages new career options through education. By offering high value, and a quality education at an affordable cost, community colleges can be the cornerstone of an educational track that can eventually lead to baccalaureate and advanced degrees, and a better trained, modern American workforce.
MassBay Community College is a perfect example. This small two-year college in the Boston suburb of Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts just announced its seventeenth Barry M. Goldwater Scholar, besting most four year colleges in New England, including Boston College, Boston University, UNH and Middlebury College. MassBay is the only community college in America to have produced more than three Goldwater Scholars.
This is no small feat. Colleges across the country are allowed to submit four names to the scholarship program, established by the U.S. Congress in 1996, and only 300 are chosen. These students, who receive scholarships up to $15,000 are the best and the brightest, and are chosen based on their intention to make a difference in science, math and technology. MassBay’s 2010 Goldwater Scholar, Lynn M. Desmarais, plans to go on to a graduate program in Biomedical Engineering, her field of study.
Many of MassBay’s Goldwater Scholars have come from a highly innovative program, and the only associate degree program of its kind in the world – Forensic DNA Science. Students are trained by actually participating in real criminal cases, and program participants have interned with the FBI, Armed Forces DNA Identification Labs, and with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Dr. Carole Berotte Joseph, president of MassBay, said, “MassBay showcases the potential of two-year colleges. Here at a community college level, we are able to offer the superb faculty, state-of-the-art laboratories and cutting-edge equipment equivalent to a four-year college at a fraction of the price. We are proud to be a steppingstone for some of our nation’s distinguished scholars and productive citizens.”
Examples abound of dedicated faculty at the two-year college level making profound impacts on their students and even on the world. MassBay’s Dr. Bruce Jackson, widely credited with launching many of the Goldwater Scholars through his visionary Forensic DNA Science program, has himself been honored as a Fulbright Scholar in Residence. This highly prestigious and competitive award has allowed him to replicate his Forensic DNA program at the Catholic University of Portugal.
And just last year, MassBay announced the discovery of a new bacteria made possible by another brilliant professor, Dr. Sarmad Saman, Chair of the Life Sciences Department, in conjunction with the work of a student utilizing MassBay’s high tech equipment and laboratory. The bacteria, submitted to the Gene Bank at the National Institutes of Health is named Bacillus samanii in honor of Dr. Saman, who said, “Although bacteria are discovered every year, the fact that the discovery was made at a community college without a cadre of graduate research students makes this discovery all the more meaningful.”
Dr. Saman acknowledged how fortunate MassBay is to have its own DNA Sequencer, Gas Chromatography and other sophisticated equipment, purchased with Dr. Joseph’s blessing. “Normally students would have to go to Harvard or MIT to have this equipment available to them.”
Besides offering an excellent educational foundation with committed, talented faculty, community colleges can be a financial boon for career changers, people who are undecided about a career path, or people who want an excellent education at a lower price than a four-year institution. Dr. Saman said, “A student can complete an Associate Degree in two years at MassBay for approximately $11,000. If that student maintains a GPA of 2.5 or above, they will have direct acceptance into a state college or university along with an automatic one-third reduction in tuition costs. That means a student can complete four years of college for what it costs to attend one year at a private school.”
Patrick W. Quinn, a 2008 Goldwater scholar, exemplifies exactly the role President Obama envisions for two-year colleges. Quinn, who was a high school drop-out and worked as a pizza maker and property manager, decided to change his life at 39, and pursue his lifelong interest in science and mathematics. MassBay’s program gave him the confidence and impetus to pursue a degree in chemistry from the University of Massachusetts. He said, “My dream job…is to do DNA research for the Cairo (Egypt) Museum, but realistically, I can see myself researching the human genome to find a treatment for cancer and AIDS before they begin.” He credits MassBay with starting him down the academic road to pursue his dreams.
For more information about MassBay, its Forensic DNA program, and all other Associate Degree and Certificate programs, please visit www.massbay.edu, or call (781) 239-3000.