Health fair for seniors coming Friday, Sept. 17

By Susan Copeland

I have been working as program director of AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP for 29 years, and it has been my pleasure to serve seniors in the Heart of Texas for over 35 years. The RSVP program is sponsored by McLennan Community College and the national service agency, AmeriCorps.

The 2016 Health Fair

Our 29th Senior Source Health and Information Fair will be 10 a.m-2:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17 at Richland Mall. We are excited for the opportunity to bring one-stop information and screenings to our senior population.

In a time of many concerns with the pandemic, I believe this is a chance for folks to safely visit with programs, agencies, and professionals all in one open area. Plus, participants can get their flu shots and COVID vaccines with no appointments needed. 

This event can provide services such as senior living options, legal advice, benefit counseling, and so much more all in one convenient location at the mall in an open area safely spaced for COVID precautions. 

AmeriCorps Seniors-RSVP has been hosting this event from its beginning and I’ve seen thousands of people gain so much from the Heath Fair. It is so satisfying to see the participants get the information they need and also enjoy the day by meeting up with friends, shopping, and learning about all the services in our area. 

Caregivers get to also ask questions and collect information, and the general public always gain something from walking through the fair.  It’s a win-win day for everyone and we are happy to bring it to our community.

Susan Copeland is director of the Heart of Texas RSVP program. She oversees her staff plus about 10 undergraduate and graduate student interns studying public relations, professional writing, social work, mental health, and counseling. She manages more than 50 community service projects and a force of 650 senior adult volunteers in the six-county Heart of Texas Region.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected]prosperwaco.org.

MCC expands scholarship opportunities for McLennan County high school students

By MCC Marketing & Communications

McLennan Community College has introduced a new scholarship opportunity recognizing McLennan County high school students ranked in the top 11-20% of their class at the end of their junior year. The Rising Star scholarship is an extension of the current McLennan Scholarship, which offers free tuition for McLennan County students ranking in the top 10% of their high school class.

Rising Star Scholarships cover 50% of tuition and fees at McLennan for four semesters, excluding summer terms, and are valid for four long semesters after high school graduation. Recipients must enroll full time (12 credit hours or more per semester), maintain a cumulative grade point average of 2.5, and complete the free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.fafsa.gov. Recipients will be notified by McLennan’s Financial Aid office and their high school principal at the end of their junior year.

MCC has also made significant changes to the McLennan Scholars program, which recognizes students in the top 10% of their class. Scholarships will be awarded to students based on their ranking at the end of their junior year in high school. McLennan Scholars receive 100% tuition and fees for four semesters, excluding summer terms, after high school graduation, and these scholarships are valid for four long semesters after high school graduation.

Recipients must enroll full time (12 credit hours or more per semester), maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0, and complete the free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.fafsa.gov. Recipients will be notified by MCC’s Financial Aid office and their high school principal at the end of their junior year.

Both the McLennan Scholars and the Rising Star Scholarship programs are also available to five home schooled students in McLennan County. These students must complete the McLennan Community College Foundation scholarship application and indicate their interest in the home school McLennan Scholars or Rising Star Scholarship.

For more information about these and other scholarship programs at McLennan, visit www.mclennan.edu/scholarships/index.html. Or contact Shelley Cotten at the MCC Foundation at [email protected] or 254-299-8818.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Highlander Restart puts former MCC students back on graduation track

By MCC Marketing & Communications

McLennan Community College is celebrating the success of students in the inaugural semester of the school’s newly launched debt-forgiveness program, the Highlander Restart Program. This new initiative aims to assist and provide resources for those former students who owe MCC money, want to re-enroll, and wish to complete a degree or certificate at MCC.

The program, which began in spring 2021, celebrates 97 returning students currently enrolled who have paid more than $38,000 in outstanding balances to the College. Nine students in the program who are now eligible to graduate this summer or fall semester.

To participate, students must be in good academic standing and not have been enrolled the previous year. Students owing $500 or less are eligible to enroll immediately with no payment due. Students with balances greater than $500 must make payments to lower the balance to $500 before becoming eligible to enroll.

Once enrolled in the program, students are responsible for the current enrollment cost, unless eligible for financial aid, and must take a minimum of six credit hours per semester while maintaining a 2.0 GPA on any new coursework. Additionally, students will complete financial literacy training and be matched with one of MCC’s success coaches to help guide them through to graduation.

The College is reaching out to an additional 5,600 former students that are eligible to benefit from the Restart Program in hopes of encouraging them to continue their education and earn their credentials. Former students interested in joining the program should complete the Highlander Restart Program form at engage.mclennan.edu/register/restart and a MCC representative will contact them.

For more information about the Highlander Restart program, visit mclennan.edu/restart.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Hard work can pay off faster with ExpressPath at MCC

Editor’s Note: McLennan Community College will host an ExpressPath Open House Saturday, June 12, 10 a.m.-noon, in the China Spring High School cafeteria highlighting an extensive list of certificate and occupational skills award options that can be completed in one year or less at MCC. Representatives will be available to help new students complete the application and enrollment process. Interested individuals are encouraged to schedule an appointment for the Open House at www.mclennan.edu/expresspath/<http://www.mclennan.edu/expresspath/> to ensure proper physical distancing. Face coverings will also be required. For more information about the Open House, contact Highlander Central at 254-299-8622 or [email protected].

By Madison Schick

Waiting on the return of “normal” has become a commonplace reference to describe the millions of people nationwide who are hoping for brighter, mask-free days filled with hugs and handshakes. However, even in less abnormal times that don’t involve a pandemic, it’s clear that lots of people are waiting on something. 

Some are waiting for the perfect time to start their new health goals, others for the courage to go back to school. Many are guilty of commemorating the holiday-season countdown by buying decorations beginning mid-July. Whether one wants to start their career or win the neighborhood yard competition, there’s no time like the present. 

To start sooner rather than later, to save money and time, and to increase earning potential through education: these are the founding principles of MCC’s ExpressPath program. 

Vocational degrees and certificates are not new to higher education, but an upsurge in salaries and employment opportunities have made these programs recent topics of conversation – and a major reason why both traditional and non-traditional learners choose community colleges. 

Quality training for in-demand jobs, affordable tuition and a swift timeline allow students to learn skills faster to earn money sooner. Certificates may be complementary to prior skills learned on the job, supplemental to other degrees, or qualify students to perform their job immediately upon completion.

In an earlier blog post, MCC President Johnette McKown reflected that students can go anywhere after MCC. This is true with ExpressPath certificates and skills awards, as these certificates can get students started in their professions sooner, allowing them to acquire additional skills, certificates, and degrees within a shorter timeframe while earning money. 

ExpressPath at MCC further destigmatizes the notion that technical certificates are only applicable to those who wish to work in healthcare or industry, such as plumbing or electrical services. Accounting, firefighting, child development, paramedicine, and interpreter training certificates are only a few of the certificates available that advance working professionals and aspiring students alike. 

MCC aims to help people take a step, possibly even a jump, towards their future with ExpressPath programs. To learn more about ExpressPath and our upcoming Open Houses, visit https://www.mclennan.edu/expresspath/

Madison Schick is social media and communications specialist at McLennan Community College. A literature enthusiast and graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio, Madison studied environmental science, English, and history, and still loves all things related to reading and writing.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

MCC saves money by refunding bonds

By Lisa Elliott

The McLennan Community College Board of Trustees decided during its February 2021 meeting to take advantage of the low interest rate environment in both the taxable and tax-exempt bond markets and to refund several of the MCC’s outstanding bonds. The refunding transactions will save MCC and taxpayers a total of $2.6 million over the remaining life of the bonds.

The limited tax refunding bond transaction provided the majority of the savings. The College refunded $24.5 million in outstanding limited tax bonds. This refunding generated gross savings of $2.26 million, which has a net present value of $2 million. This savings directly impacts MCC’s property tax rate, which is comprised of two portions: a maintenance and operations rate, which helps operate MCC, and an interest and sinking fund rate, which provides revenue to service tax-backed debt.

The revenue-refunding bond transaction was a smaller refunding with $2.38 million. This refunding generated gross savings of $352,395, which has a net present value of $333,555. Revenue bond debt service is paid by MCC from a combination of resources — tuition and fees, auxiliary revenues, and interest income. Savings on revenue bond debt service allows resources to be directed to other programmatic priorities of the College.

MCC prides itself on being financially responsible, and with the guidance of our financial advisors at RBC Capital Markets, this decision shows a continued commitment by the Board of Trustees for the responsible use of financial resources.

For more information, please contact Dr. Stephen Benson, Vice President of Finance & Administration at MCC, at [email protected] or 254-299-8679.

Lisa Elliott is director of marketing & communications for McLennan Community College.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Celebrate Community College Month with MCC

By Madison Schick 

The value of a college degree or workforce certificate has become nearly indisputable; its critical function within the national and local economy is further secured by the role of college degrees in society. 

College degrees enable graduates to achieve a status that may allude others, and this points to an innate worth in higher education. McLennan Community College recognizes Community College Month and its goals throughout the month of April to advocate and support community colleges and their current and prospective students nationwide. MCC invites all to join in the celebration of equitable education in Waco. 

In 2016 nearly one-third of community college attendees were first-generation college students, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The American Association of Community Colleges reports for the same year, “two out of every three students at community colleges work[ed] while enrolled, with 20.6% of mostly full-time students working full-time jobs.”  

In addition to demographic diversity, community colleges serve various populations of students, each with differing goals. MCC serves well over 1,000 high school students each year through Dual Credit courses – permitting students to receive college credit while keeping their academic and career goals forefront. Half of McLennan County high school valedictorians and salutatorians in 2020 graduated with an associate’s degree from MCC. 

A recent Inside Higher Ed article examined results from a survey produced by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. Over half of people earning bachelor’s degrees between 2008 and 2017 were previously enrolled at a community college, and one-quarter had received an associate’s degree prior to their bachelor’s degree. 

Community colleges will continue to differ from four-year schools, partly due to the goals of the students they serve. Community colleges surpass the ability of four-year schools in supplying the local and national workforce with well-educated, certified, and trained workers. They do this in a shorter time frame while accommodating students’ availability for attending classes. 

Community colleges use their multipurpose role within the economy, society, and higher education to meet the needs of students with diverse goals and backgrounds. 

“You can go anywhere from here,” said MCC President Johnette McKown. “If you want to eventually graduate from Baylor, Texas Tech, Tarleton, Texas A&M, or anywhere, start here. If you want to be a health professional, first responder, or professional in any other field, start here.” 

Madison Schick is social media and communications specialist at McLennan Community
College. A literature enthusiast and graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio, Madison studied environmental science, English, and history, and still loves all things related to reading and writing.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Much to Celebrate: MCC & its University Center reflect on possibilities for students 20 years after start

By Madison Schick

What happens when homespun aspirations become well-earned, successful realities for Central Texas community members? The result is largely simple with impactful consequences — sustainable, higher-paying employment, heightened self-esteem, and a general upsurge in prosperity for all presented the opportunity of higher education. 

McLennan Community College has been partnering with other universities for the benefit of students for 20 years.

At McLennan Community College; the University Center; and partner institutions Texas Tech University, TTU Health Sciences Center, Tarleton State University, Midwestern State University, and the University of Texas Medical Branch are celebrating 20 years of affordable and accessible undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees in addition to the tangible markers of university education provided to the citizens and students of Waco. 

The University Center at McLennan Community College released an online brochure to commemorate the significant 20-year celebration, with the front cover tagline, “Celebrating 20 years of affordable bachelor’s and graduate degree options in Waco.” Two decades of University Center operations encompass numerous historical events, the celebration of hundreds of graduates, thousands of instruction hours, and exactly 20 years to learn from, grow with, and welcome established Texas universities and equally exceptional programs of study to MCC’s campus. 

Perhaps the word options rings the loudest to the aspiring people of Central Texas. To have options means to have the opportunity to choose. The University Center, MCC, and its partner institutions are committed to providing affordable education and bringing the opportunity of choice to those who once doubted they had any. The schools are also thankful for those who chose the University Center as a step towards their future. 

As higher education proves to be essential to today’s economy and workforce, affordability claims strewn across billboards and magazines have allowed marketers and audiences to lose sight of the subjectivity of affordability. What constitutes affordable education parallels families, children, and individuals of Texas in the same pursuit of opportunity that range from varying degrees of financial need. 

MCC and its university partners function to provide multiple opportunities for scholarships, financial aid, and tuition assistance to students in addition to the chance for caregivers, working parents, hopeful high school seniors, and those dreaming of a second chance for a better future to start anew in the city that’s called home. 

Although not the first of its kind, MCC and the University Center operate systemically. Students first enroll in basic, or prerequisite, courses at MCC with the intent to transfer these courses into a bachelor’s degree plan with a UC partner. Upon transferring, the student will be considered a student of their selected institution. Students may begin attending a UC partner institution earlier than expected, as they may begin earning college credit through MCC while participating in dual credit courses. 

While registered at MCC, students are invited to apply for hundreds of scholarships through the MCC Foundation during an application period that spans October to mid-January. The Highlander Restart program offers tuition-forgiveness to qualifying MCC students in an effort to ease the worry of indebtedness and fear of enrollment. 

Once students are eligible for transfer, Texas Tech University’s Red Raider Guarantee monetarily covers tuition and mandatory fees for those students who qualify. In recent news, Tarleton State University officially announced its Transfer Guaranteed Award Program (T-GAP) that provides renewable scholarships between $500 and $2,000 to transfer students of Distinguished College Partners. 

When homespun aspirations become well-earned, successful realities, many doors open. Events set into motion, printed diplomas, the relief of hard work well done, and the choice of education make up the first door for thousands of Texans. MCC and UC will continue to empower individuals with and through options – the option to fulfil their goals, to set an example, and to be proud of themselves through affordable education and a quality, merited degree. 

For more information about how to become a student of the University Center, please visit https://www.mclennan.edu/uc/index.html. To explore other transfer opportunities, check out https://www.mclennan.edu/advising/transfer.html to view transfer and advising guides. 

Madison Schick is a social media and communications specialist at McLennan Community College. A literature enthusiast and graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio, Madison studied environmental science, English, and history, and still loves all things related to reading and writing. Her other interests include connecting with old friends, trying new restaurants, and spoiling her two rescue cats, Remus and Chewy, with lots of love and treats.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Vaccine distribution provides life-changing clinical experience for MCC students

By Madison Schick 

McLennan Community College’s Health Professions students have experienced personal fulfillment through their volunteer efforts at Waco’s COVID-19 vaccination clinics, and they have helped redefine the influences of hands-on education and what it means to learn through experience. 

Students of the Associate Degree Nursing, Medical Lab Technician, Medical Assistant, and Veterinary Technology programs participated with MCC faculty and other local medical professionals to educate, care for, and vaccinate members of the community in the fight against COVID-19. 

Students’ participation in the vaccination clinics has been eye-opening in community building and in the ability of aspiring health profession students to witness a glimpse of the impactful differences they will continue to make in the future as professionals. 

Liz Painter, RN and simulation specialist within MCC’s Vocational Nursing, administered vaccines to survivors of COVID-19, joyfully tearful immunocompromised adults, and at-risk geriatric patients hopeful to see their families in the near future. With pride in MCC and her students, Liz is also grateful to have met “such a range of people, but all so happy to be receiving the vaccine.” 

Among the thousands to receive the vaccine, MCC’s Senior Graphic Designer Clif-Ann Paris could not have been more impressed with the efficiency, efficacy, and success of the vaccination clinic. “My appointment was for 12:10 p.m., and I was given my first dose only two minutes later. I was given all the information I needed, and my wellbeing was prioritized.” 

What’s next for McLennan Community College? Dean of Health Professions Glynnis Gaines reflects, “We always talk about community service, and it is a part of who we are, but this has really opened new doors” for students and faculty. Nursing students from Baylor University, Texas State University, and Texas Christian University make up only a few of participating institutions across the state that join MCC in education and service through active volunteerism at COVID-19 vaccination clinics across the state. 

Madison Schick is social media and communications specialist at McLennan Community College. A literature enthusiast and graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio, Madison studied environmental science, English, and history, and still loves all things related to reading and writing. Her other interests include connecting with old friends, trying new restaurants, and spoiling her two rescue cats, Remus and Chewy, with lots of love and treats.  

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected]. 

MCC Hearts in the Arts Gala features mystery & fashion

By Kim Patterson

When I was a kid, my favorite board game was Clue. Something about being transported inside an imaginary mansion to solve a murder mystery awakened my inner detective, and I loved assuming a serious poker face as I deduced “whodunit.” 

If you, too, enjoy the fun of solving a mystery, join us for “Clue: The Musical” Hearts in the Arts Gala sponsored by McLennan Community College.  This year, due to recent weather disruptions, the event has been rescheduled for 7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 4, at the MCC Ball Performing Arts Center. 

Now in its 19th year, the Hearts in the Arts Gala has become a community favorite with its blend of dining and a musical performed by McLennan Theatre students.  This year’s production provides loads of inspiration for patrons who enjoy dressing to the theme of the show, and Professor Plum and Miss Scarlet are already on the guest list. 

Kermit Oliver
(photo courtesy of Waco Tribune-Herald)

Adding to the fun, and also extended one week, are ticket sales for a chance to win one of two Hermès scarves designed and autographed by internationally renowned Waco artist Kermit Oliver. Oliver is the only American artist ever commissioned for the exclusive Hermès Paris fashion house. Generous supporters of McLennan Arts donated the scarves and acquired the autographs on Oliver’s highly sought-after Kachinas and Pawnee designs. An Hermès scarf bearing Oliver’s unique artwork and signature is exceptionally rare and virtually priceless.

Hermès Kachinas Scarf

Tickets for the Scarf in the Arts raffle are $20 each or six for $100 and are available online until 11:59 p.m., March 3 at www.mclennan.edu/foundation/scarfinthearts. Tickets may be purchased in person at the March 4 Gala until intermission when the winning tickets will be drawn. Winner need not be present to win.

“Clue: The Musical” opened off Broadway in 1997 to mixed reviews, but the clever show has experienced a renaissance in community theatre in years since. The musical offers an interactive feature in which audience members help determine which of the show’s colorful characters killed Mr. Boddy, what weapon they used and in which room of Boddy Mansion the murder took place. Based on the cards drawn, there are 216 possible endings to the show — a feature that will challenge the acting chops of the cast. The McLennan production will be directed by theatre faculty choreographer Joe Taylor.

In-person tickets for the Gala are sold out, but virtual guests may view a live stream of the production at a secure link. Tickets are $100 each and include a generous voucher for dining at Di Campli’s Italian Ristorante in lieu of the usual cocktail dinner.

Hearts in the Arts is an affinity group of the MCC Foundation that supports the arts at McLennan, and event and raffle proceeds benefit scholarships for area students. Gala reservations are due by Thursday, Feb. 25. To make reservations, or to inquire about the Scarf in the Arts raffle, contact the McLennan Community College Foundation at 254-299-8604 or [email protected].

Kim Patterson is executive director of McLennan Community College Foundation and the Office of Institutional Advancement. Patterson is a graduate of Baylor University with degrees in journalism and marketing. In 2017, she earned a master’s degree in management and leadership from Tarleton State University. She and her husband Frank have two grown children and enjoy camping, fishing, and hiking. 

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Applications available for Texas Reskilling grant at MCC

By Candace Kelm

College students affected by COVID-19 can now apply for Texas Reskilling grant funds through McLennan Community College to help get back on track to earning a certificate or degree. MCC was awarded $112,500 in funding by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to help 75 students who stopped attending classes due to the pandemic and wanted to continue their education. 

The program is also available to displaced workers affected by COVID-19 needing to gain new skills to re-enter the workforce. More than 70 of MCC’s degree and certificate programs are approved for the grant funds, and eligible students will receive $500-$2,500 per semester to be enrolled either full or part time.

To be eligible, students must:

*       Be a Texas resident eligible for in-state tuition;

*       Have filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA);

*       Have financial need and be eligible for federal Title IV aid (students enrolled in short-term non-eligible Title IV workforce credential programs, but who are otherwise Title IV eligible, may be included);

*       Have affirmed they were affected by COVID-19;

*       Be enrolled in an eligible undergraduate or short-term workforce credential program either full or part time;

*       Have not been enrolled in an accredited postsecondary institution during the Fall 2020 semester or previous six months; and

*       Must be within 12 months of completing their credential program.

Interested students should complete the online application. Registration is still open for those wishing to continue their education this spring. Spring Second 8-Week classes begin March 15. For more information or to enroll for spring classes, contact Highlander Central at 254-299-8622 or [email protected].

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].