By Jesse Kane
Students enrolled in the AWC Honors Program and Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society are encouraged to broaden the scope of their studies, to explore new horizons. Frequently, this leads to students becoming active within their communities.
For example, during the lively week before Halloween, a group of students could be seen collecting signatures on campus at a booth in the hallway between Starbucks and the Eatery. Those students were members of Sigma Beta, AWC's local chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, and they were working toward their objective of making Arizona community colleges tuition-free. This academic year, Sigma Beta had dedicated its "Honors in Action" project to researching and raising awareness for the movement knows as the College Promise Plan (CPP).
Aside from maintaining a 3.5 GPA and a generally high level of academic success, an essential part of being a member of Sigma Beta, AWC's local chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, is to collaborate with your team to complete an Honors in Action project. Honors in Action consists of student-led independent research that creates awareness of multiple perspectives on a complex real-world topic, demonstrates analytical and critical thinking skills, and initiates real-world problem-solving by developing in-depth, action-oriented solutions to problems associated with the chapter's topic of study.
The College Promise Plan is spearheaded by the administration of President Barack Obama, with fervent support from Dr. Jill Biden and from White House representatives. In September, Sigma Beta joined Biden and representatives on a conference call regarding the Plan, and here's what they found out:
- The College Promise Act (the actual legislation for the CPP) is going to be a collaborative effort between federal, state, and local governments.
- The Plan will combat the rising cost of 4-year college degrees while improving graduation and retention rates
- The Plan does so by making a minimum 2.5 GPA mandatory for students to receive free tuition: "A 2.5 GPA keeps tuition away!"
- Federal funding would account for 75% of tuition, with the other 25% coming from programs individually funded by the state
- This program has received bipartisan support! Representatives from opposite sides of the political spectrum agree that this program would positively impact higher education in the U.S.
Sigma Beta will continue to research and raise awareness for the CPP for the duration of the 2015-16 academic year; further, they will be contacting Arizona State Senator Lynn Pancrazi (a former Matador), U.S. Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain, and U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva with an invitation to come speak to students at AWC about their beliefs regarding the impact of community college in Arizona, and what they believe the College Promise Plan would hold in store for higher education in Arizona.
Photo courtesy of AWC Honors Program