Recruiting Minority Students
- By Dr. Michael B. McCall
- April 1st, 2012
When the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) launched a statewide recruitment initiative called “Super Sunday” targeting African-American students, the motivation behind it was simple. According to state college enrollment data, less than half of Kentucky’s minority high school graduates went on to attend college, and of those, only eight out of every 100 graduated from college. It was clear that minority students were getting lost in the higher education pipeline.
Statistically, minority students face more impediments while pursuing higher education because they are more likely to be the first in their families to attend or complete college and they also often face socioeconomic challenges that limit resources to finance higher education. Through Super Sunday, KCTCS and its 16 colleges set out to show a specific population and generations of families that higher education is within reach.
Super Sunday targets the African-American community through one of its most prominent outreach networks: the church. On February 12, 2012, Super Sunday events were held at 34 lead churches and included college fairs at 25 locations across Kentucky. College faculty and staff joined pastors and worship leaders to spread the education gospel, that “Yes You Can Go to College…Yes You Can Get a College Degree…and Yes You Can Have a High Paying job!” At each location, KCTCS teams of faculty and staff offered college information and encouraged mentor relationships to help students and parents make a fully informed college plan.
In addition to offering prospective students and their families a pathway to higher education, Super Sunday also includes recognition of success stories of KCTCS graduates, many of whom triumphed over adversity. The Super Sunday Hall of Fame annually recognizes notable African-American alumni who are invited to share their own experiences with the participating congregations. Hall of Fame member Kathryn Hunt recalls her college experience as one of personal perseverance. She struggled at times academically and faced intense family obligations while caring for her sick mother. The evidence of her challenges was visible on her assignments, she explains, “My notebook paper was smudged and torn, by repetitive erasing, soggy from tears . . . from my difficulties.”
But what made the difference for Kathryn Hunt is that she did not give up on her dream of an education. In 1989 she graduated from Lexington Community College (now Bluegrass Community and Technical College). After completing an associate degree she transferred to the University of Louisville and became the first African-American to graduate from the physical therapy program. Now with 20 years of success in her field, Hunt mentors high school and college students considering careers in physical therapy.
KCTCS’ Super Sunday initiative is modeled after a highly successful program developed at California State University (CSU). Following their program’s implementation, CSU has seen the number of African-American student applicants nearly double from 2005 to 2010. Now in KCTCS’ second year, our
2012 Super Sunday events reached more than 8,600 participants, a 286 percent increase over 2011. We are proud minority enroll--
ment is continuously growing at KCTCS colleges. Since 2005 KCTCS has seen an 88.8 percent increase in total minority enrollment with a 60.2 percent increase among African-American students. In March of this year the KCTCS Super Sunday initiative was recognized by the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations (NCMPR) with a national gold award for outstanding recruitment program. We know partnerships like those formed through Super Sunday are crucial to increasing degree attainment.
The Super Sunday recruitment initiative may focus on a specific population, but the benefits will reverberate throughout our state and our nation. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, “We are tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects
all indirectly.” Communities with higher graduation rates have lower unemployment, greater community engagement, and improved quality of life. The next generation of students will build the foundation we depend on for a stronger America. We must
give all students the building blocks they need. As KCTCS alumnus Kathryn Hunt declared about her college goals, “‘Yes I can’ was always there for me. All I needed was ‘show me the way.’ That’s what the community college did for me. They showed me the
way.” We are planning for many more Super Sundays to show all
of our future students their path to a college degree and successful career.
Dr. Michael B. McCall is president of Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS). For more information on the KCTCS Super Sunday events visit www.kctcs.edu/supersunday.