I am an 11-year faculty member and administrator of a comprehensive community and technical college in southeastern Kentucky (C&EN, Sept. 3, page 69). Our students are among the poorest in the nation; ACT scores are the lowest among Kentucky community colleges; and 75% of our students have a developmental deficiency in one or more areas of math, reading, and English. Yet we have one of the highest graduation rates in our system because we realize that an education is one of the best ways to break the cycle of poverty that exists here. It is truly an honor to work with these students; we encourage them to "Stay Close, Go Far."
Nearly 50% of the students who study chemistry begin their work at a two-year college. Our students readily succeed in preprofessional programs, engineering, and medical school. Still, it takes much effort to persuade a student at a community college that he or she really can do the work regardless of their educational background—whether that student has a GED, three kids, or a full-time job on top of their studies just to make ends meet.
There's another reason why "community" is in our name. We go further than the classroom; we are in the community with them. So when they succeed, the community succeeds as well.