College Access Network looks at future, past

ESCANABA — Delta County College Access Network (DCCAN) Director Kathy Becker gave the Bay College Board of Trustees an update on the network and its programs at the board’s regular meeting Wednesday.

Becker said the network works to encourage youths in the area to plan for their futures.

“The main goal is to expose students to career options and assist them in post-high school planning,” she said.

DCCAN is the only college access network in the Upper Peninsula, Becker noted.

“We are one of few in (Michigan’s) rural communities,” she said.

While DCCAN is currently ineligible for funding from the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) — one of the only state-level college access networks in the country — it receives funding from grants and local businesses and organizations. Becker said these businesses and organizations include the Community Foundation for Delta County, Hannahville Indian Community, Sackerson Foundation, Weyerhaeuser, the Kiwanis Clubs of Gladstone/Rapid River and Escanaba, Bark River Lions Club, and Walmart.

In pursuit of its mission, DCCAN was involved with a wide variety of programs during the 2016-17 school year.

“Last year, we had over 1,500 students participate in our programs,” Becker said.

Programs included college visits to Northern Michigan University, Michigan Tech, Lake Superior State University, and Bellin College. Becker said over 200 high school students in the area went on these trips.

“When we go on these trips, we tour the school — we meet with admissions and academic advisors,” she said.

DCCAN was also involved in “Bay Is The Way Day,” a program designed to provide an experience similar to the trips at Bay College for high school seniors.

“We fashioned that after other college visits,” Becker said.

A pair of DCCAN-affiliated programs brought younger students to Bay last year, as well. One of these programs, Eighth Grade Career Exploration, was sponsored and organized by DCCAN, Bay College, and the Delta-Schoolcraft ISD (DSISD).

“The goal is to get students thinking about careers and making positive choices so that they have some options in high school,” Becker said. All of Delta County’s eighth-grade students participated in this program, which was held at both Bay and the DSISD.

The other program in this vein was Fifth Grade Fridays. DCCAN worked with Bay College and the Northern Lights YMCA to sponsor the program.

Becker said students who participated in the Fifth Grade Fridays program were very enthusiastic about it.

“Students in fifth grade are so excited to be here,” she said.

Other events and initiatives which DCCAN played a role in during the 2016-17 school year included FAFSA Nights at Bay College, Michigan College Month, the student event “College 101: Juniors, Gear Up,” mock interviews, and job shadowing.

Becker also gave the board a look at DCCAN’s financial future.

“We have funding for this school year, and I am currently writing grants and seeking donations from area businesses,” she said. Additionally, she noted MCAN has started looking into a liaison program that could potentially provide funding for DCCAN at some point.

Bay College President Laura Coleman thanked Becker for the work she has done to promote college access in Delta County.

“Kathy has been absolutely amazing with what she’s done,” she said.

In other business, the board:

– approved a resolution stating Bay has met the best practice standards required for state appropriations in 2017.

– welcomed new part-time custodian John Belanger.

– adopted a new equity statement for the college.