In many cases, Sierra College provides the same or better education than the CSU or UC systems, at a fraction of the cost. Roseville Mayor Gina Garbolino recently pointed out that she earned an AA degree in accounting from Sierra College, and a bachelor's in French History from a university, and she's made every cent from her Sierra College education. Our vocational education programs are top-rate, and are constantly being inundated with job offers from our local businesses. If there is a Sierra College student willing to apply him or herself in a vocational education program, it is getting closer and closer every day to being a sure thing that a job will be waiting for them when they're done.
We grant the highest number of AA degrees of any community college in Northern California. We have very high transfer and job placement rates in our transfer and vocational education programs.
What does this translate into for the community? Well, we're working to get a more exact number, but we already know that Sierra College adds over $3 to the local economy for every $1 that we invest in our students.
We changed the lives of 22,500 students last year, and every year, we add to that number. Simply by attending Sierra College, our former students are less likely to ever be unemployed, less likely to ever be involved in criminal activities and less likely to ever apply for welfare benefits.
Sierra College plays a critical role in our community's economic prosperity and well being, and we simply can't afford to let fiscal irresponsibility get in the way of that mission.
So that's where we are today. Now, let's talk about the three things we need to do to build the New College for the New Economy.
First, we need to build the societal framework that allows a vibrant, growing workforce to emerge. We need to reform many of our governmental institutions so that our young people see that if they work hard and play by the rules, they have a chance to achieve anything they set their mind to.
That's why, even as a conservative Republican who wants to make sure that government spending goes down, I believe very strongly that community college education needs to be protected.
Let me put it this way: if we invest more money at the state level in giving people a hand up, we can stop spending so many of our state tax dollars giving people a hand out.
Giving every Californian their independence, their self-sufficiency and their freedom from the ever-increasing hand of government is something that the gift of education can deliver. There is no welfare check large enough to give someone that independence and that freedom.
And that's why I have been encouraging my fellow trustees and our elected officials in Sacramento to focus on balancing the budget by giving people a hand up, instead of a hand out. That's the way we give people hope. That's the way we give people a future. That's the way we allow every Californian to achieve the California dream.
Second, we need to change the way we deliver college education, to reach those students who don't fit into a traditional college schedule.
Sierra College has very innovative programs for online education that use streaming video, teleconferencing and online chat technologies to create online virtual classrooms that are drawing students from around the state, and around the country. We have new FastTrack classes that can be completed by students within five weeks.
These are great efforts that we need to expand and innovate on as we seek to serve the students our existing model is not reaching. University of Phoenix is figuring this out, and I think it is time that public institutions like Sierra College begin to serve this student population as well.
Third, we need to develop innovative new programs that can train a new generation of leaders and workers for industries and technologies that are just beginning to come over the horizon.
To equip more of our local citizens with the skills they need to start a business, we have established the Sierra College Small Business Development Center, where we counsel and train business owners and entrepreneurs, free of charge.
To prepare to take back the lead in engineering, research and development, we are working to deepen our programs in math and science to attract more students and prepare them to design, invent and dream.
A great example of this effort is our new "mechatronics" program. Nationally, we are one of just a handful of institutions developing a program centered around this new interdisciplinary field of study that fuses computers, software, mechanics, hydraulics and pneumatics together.
Today, we are already enrolling and training a new workforce that will be equipped to build, service and repair the hybrid vehicles with integrated gasoline and electronic engines, the ATM machines with voice recognition and artificial intelligence and the automated manufacturing plants that are returning manufacturing jobs back to the United States.
These efforts that I believe Sierra College and other educational institutions need to undertake will make a big difference in our country's ability to harness the New Economy and allow it to propel us to new heights of growth and prosperity.
You see, I think that one thing that many of the gloom and doomers forget about is the ingenuity and determination of the American people.
You know, it was not many years ago that we all believed that there was nothing that we couldn't accomplish together. The Soviets launched their first rocket, and within ten years, we beat them to the new frontier of space. This is the country that put the first man on the moon, invented the car, the airplane, the telephone, the Internet, the light bulb and discovered electricity itself.
We have a history of leading the world in innovation, exploration and discovery, and I don't think that is going to change. If we make the right choices and pursue the right policies, this New Economy will be a large part of what makes this a grand American century in a new era of American leadership.
Thank you for your support for Sierra College, and for your support for our community. I look forward to having the chance to represent you for the next four years and beyond. – less–ZoomInfo