San Juan College selected by national program to boost graduation rates

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FARMINGTON, N.M. – A national nonprofit that helps disadvantaged students hit educational milestones, selected one community college in New Mexico to help out.

“We will not be happy until we hit 100% graduation rate,” said Toni Hopper Pendergrass, the president of San Juan College.

Pendergrass says the journey San Juan College is on is to get more students to graduate. It also happens to be an initiative for a national nonprofit.

“Achieving the Dream Network is a network of 300 community colleges across the nation that really work to advance the students’ success agenda nationwide for community colleges, and we were accepted into a cohort called accelerating equitable outcomes,” said Pendergrass.

San Juan College was one of 10 colleges selected nationwide for this competitive program, with “three selected in California, five in Chicago, us, and one in New York.”

To get some extra help implementing educational strategies for students.

“It’s a three-year program, and we will have two coaches that are national experts assigned to San Juan College, and we will work with them periodically over the next three years,” Pendergrass added.

With the goal to help minority students from high-poverty backgrounds earn post-secondary degrees.

“To help more, more and more students hit the finish line by graduating, and also being placed into living wage jobs. And as part of that process, we want to make sure we don’t have any equity gaps among any of our populations here at the college,” said Pendergrass.

This program is funded by a $20 million donation to Achieving the Dream. It’s estimated to start in June at San Juan College.