REMARKS AS PREPARED
April 16, 2016
Good evening. I am Kate Brown, your Governor, and it is my great pleasure to join you in celebrating PCC this evening.
The video you just saw underscores one of the main reasons I am here. I believe each one of us in this room tonight shares my desire to eliminate barriers to higher education, especially for students who are first generation, or unable to afford tuition.
When public and private organizations come together to leverage resources to throw open the doors of opportunity for these students, I’d say we are doing something right.
In just its fifth year, Future Connect has already had a lasting impact on students and our community. Along with scholarships, Future Connect provides students with crucial wraparound services to help them thrive: college success coaches, career guidance, personal advising, and internship resources.
There are many reasons I love PCC, and I could go on and on, but I’ll only share a couple…Fundraising team, I see you out there, I promise I won’t take too long.
Earlier this year, Jefferson High School announced its graduation rate climbed to 80 percent, the largest year-over-year increase in Portland Public Schools last year, and above our state average.
I can’t help but think PCC plays a role in this success. PCC has a partnership with Jefferson that allows students to walk across the street to the Cascade Campus and take classes for free. And high school seniors can earn college credits. We know that high school students who earn as few as six college credits – two courses – are more likely to finish high school, attend college, and complete their degrees than those who do not.
Last year, I met with PCC legislative interns who spend time in the Capitol each year because they are interested in public service and the legislative process. One student told me matter-of-factly he wants to be Governor one day. I’m thankful to PCC for awakening students to the power of their own potential. I’ve seen first-hand how PCC opens up students’ worlds, giving them hands-on experiences, connecting their education to relevant careers, and allowing them to see themselves as our future leaders.
As Governor, my priority is to create a seamless system of education from cradle to career. Higher education creates opportunity, and I’m committed to making college affordable and accessible for all students.
This past year we increased higher education funding by 16 percent – the largest increase in the nation. We also provided tuition relief to Oregon students attending our public colleges and universities. More than 16,000 more students now have access to Oregon Opportunity Grants. And I was pleased to sign the Oregon Promise, which will reduce community college tuition to as little as $50 a term for eligible students. Even more students will have access to what PCC has to offer.
Now, it is my pleasure to introduce you to two current students who want to tell you about what Portland Community College means to them. Their experiences may be different, but their stories underscore the same thing – that PCC is a champion and community gem for so many people.
Please welcome Alexander McPherson and Judy Johnson.