Living and Learning: Community College
Women Spend June at Smith for the Full College Experience
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- Older
students are a rapidly growing segment of the college-going
population, but few of these nontraditional-aged students
have the opportunity to go to school full-time. From June
1 to July 3, Smith College's Community College Connections
(CCC) program will give 21 women from five community colleges
across the country the chance to focus exclusively on learning.
in its 15th year, CCC is designed to free participants
from the pressures of the outside world so that they can
immerse themselves in a rigorous academic environment.
"The purpose of the program is to provide students
at community colleges with the residential [college] experience,
of being in a 24-hour-a-day learning environment," said
program director Holly Davis. "The women can then decide
whether they are interested in going on to a four-year college."
Davis notes that 80 percent
of CCC students have gone on to graduate from a four-year
institution. And while the program is not a recruiting measure,
she says 10 percent of the students have come to Smith, "after falling in love with the
The program, aside from a small
registration fee, is free to the students.
"Part of the idea is that women at community colleges
often have jobs or children, and this is an opportunity to
simply be a student -- they're freed from other obligations," said
The 2004 students, ranging in
age from 18 to 77, include those who identify as African-American,
Caribbean-American, Asian- and Native-American, as well as
some who identify as Latina, from backgrounds including Cuban,
Puerto Rican and Venezuelan. The group also includes a student
from Bulgaria and another from Bosnia.
They come from Holyoke
Community College, Holyoke, Mass.; Capital Community-Technical
College, Hartford, Conn.; Springfield Technical Community
College, Springfield, Mass.; and Miami-Dade Community College,
The students will take two interdisciplinary
classes during the four-week program. The courses are team-taught
by professors from Smith and from Holyoke Community College.
This year's courses are "Banned in the USA," taught
by Smith English professor Michael Thurston and Holyoke Community
College professor and lawyer Kelly O'Connor. The class will
focus on literary texts that have been banned in the U.S.,
as well as the legal implications of free speech and issues
The second class, titled "A Mind for Writing: Psychology,
Neurobiology and the Art of the Personal Essay," is
a writing-intensive course that will explore the human drive
to communicate and the personal essay as a specific form
of communication. Taught by Smith professor Michele Wick
and Holyoke Community College professor Fred Cooksey, the
class is a combination of "neuroscience and writing," says
"This class looks at what enables people to write,
the connections among writing, cognition and emotion, and
the psychological and neurological underpinnings of a good
writer," she continued.
The students are the reason
Davis continues to work with the program.
"After 14 years of working
with the program, I continue to find it enormously satisfying
to witness women from such diverse backgrounds discovering
strengths and capabilities they never before recognized in
themselves," she says.
"The program seeks to identify
and serve students who are the first in their families to
go to college, most of whom have never considered the possibility
of attending a four-year college."
Smith College is consistently
ranked among the nation's foremost liberal arts colleges.
Enrolling 2,800 students from every state and 60 other
countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women's college
in the country.
Office of College
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174