By Nicholas Bostick
New Media Editor
The Brookhaven College Student Government Association is creating a class gift program to benefit future Brookhaven students.
The class gift will take the form of a scholarship, which is still in the planning stage, to be funded by current and former Brookhaven students. Former SGA president TonyChris Nnaka said the SGA plans to award the scholarship in 2018 at the earliest, to coincide with the college’s 40th anniversary celebration.
Former SGA officers met with Brookhaven administrators at the start of the spring semester. “We were looking for a way to make an impact in the school and things to do that would give back to students that are coming after us,” Nnaka said. “It hasn’t been done before. This is the first time they are doing it at Brookhaven College, even at DCCCD.”
The implementation of this class gift is an attempt to create a legacy for Brookhaven students. “Anyone who gives to the gift is a stakeholder in Brookhaven College and our future students,” Dr. Thom Chesney, Brookhaven president, said.
According to the American Association of Community Colleges, 45 percent of all 2012 college undergraduates and first- time freshmen were enrolled in community colleges in 2012. Twenty percent of community college students ended up transferring to four-year universities in 2012, and 60 percent of those who did went on to earn bachelor’s degrees.
“The public has caught on, and senior institutions that want to thrive, not just survive, are reaching out to us as we reach out to them,” Chesney said.
The increased role of community colleges in the higher education system and programs such as Brookhaven’s class gift help challenge the stereotype that community colleges have held. “A lot of students see community college as where the unfortunate people go, and a lot of people don’t value it that much, thinking that, ‘Oh, it’s just a starting point,’” Nnaka said. “Most people, after they get their degree, they never mention where they got their associate’s degree.”
Brookhaven is looking to change that stereotype with this new scholarship, which looks to former and current students to contribute. “The number one reason people don’t give [money] is because they aren’t asked,” Chesney said.
“Every dollar that goes toward this gift will go to Brookhaven students, nowhere else.” Chesney also said a lot of students who go on to become successful come to Brookhaven for a few classes without ever graduating.
This knowledge has spurred talk of creating a Former Students Association to connect all former students who want to give back to Brookhaven.
“It is going be a way to increase retention after graduation, not just once you graduate,” Nnaka said. Students are beginning to realize that community colleges are a pathway to a successful college education, and eventually, a successful career, Chesney said. Anyone interested in giving to the Brookhaven class gift can donate at the donation box in the campus bookstore or at the Office of Student Life.
“The entire idea of this is to make it student-centered and student-driven, with no extra funds coming toward it,” Nnaka said.