by Michelle Marks
Last week Mason’s Class of 2019 officially transitioned from students to graduates. It was our largest class ever – 9,296 graduates, of which 34% were first generation in their family to go to college.
For many of our students, graduation is more than just an academic accomplishment. Earning a degree means they’ve successfully navigated challenges that could have easily sidelined their goals. Overcoming these challenges makes the victories all the sweeter for the graduates, their families and those privileged enough to play a role in their educational journey.
The truth is that every degree is a win for us all. It is a win for the families that experience the increased earning potential that a college degree affords. It is a win for the communities that gain access to an educated and engaged society. And it is a win for employers that benefit from the knowledge and skills our graduates now possess.
Since we all have a stake in their future, it makes sense that we need a unified approach to student success; one that brings employers, universities, communities and education companies together to figure out how we do even more in partnership.
This past year, we’ve worked hard to build strategic partnerships that expand educational access and student success. Our partners share our commitment to ensuring that students have the requisite skills to compete in today’s workforce. Together, we’ve built high-demand credentials, increased online programming, created seamless pathways for community college students and hosted a conference to share best practices for building strong public-private partnerships.
Every day I am inspired by the commitment and support from a widening network of contributors: our employers, partners, elected and appointed officials in Richmond, regional leaders, board members, faculty, staff and students. Working together, we can be a force for change and impact our students, our region and our world!
Read more about Mason’s initiatives in our most recent New Ventures newsletter.