OCC Students Participate in Metro Community College Completion Ceremony

OCC Students Participate in Metro Community College Completion Ceremony

Metro staff and students
Student speaker at MCC graduation


CONTACT Cara Wilwerding, Communications Manager

OFFICE 402-479-5712 | cara.wilwerding@nebraska.gov

Seventy students participated in the Metropolitan Community College (MCC) Completion Ceremony at Omaha Correctional Center (OCC) on Monday morning.

“It’s because people outside of these walls cared enough about us to put this in motion,” said Ivan Kenyon, a student now participating in work release at Community Corrections Center-Omaha and the only member of his family to go to college.

One of the people to put such change in motion is former Nebraska State Senator Heath Mello. Along with former Nebraska Representative Brad Ashford, Mello sponsored LB907 – a bill which includes the creation of a vocational and life skills program available to individuals who are incarcerated, on parole or on probation for a felony, while under supervision and for up to 18 months following discharge.

“I feel optimistic today; I really do,” Mello said at the ceremony. “This is everything I thought it would be when we passed LB907 three years ago.”

To date, MCC has offered 94 courses for credit at OCC. Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) students boast a 97% graduation rate and an average grade point average of 3.7.

Members of the MCC 180 Re-Entry Assistance Program (RAP) team attended the ceremony to encourage and congratulate students. RAP is an NDCS vocational and life skills grant-funded program under LB907.

RAP team members presented students with a variety of awards. Foundation Awards were given to 49 students who completed credit coursework to provide them with work readiness skills. Advanced Foundation Awards were given to nine students who completed credit courses to assist with gaining entry level employment. Core Course Awards were given to 48 students who completed at least three quarters of MCC credit courses. Peer Mentor Awards were given to two students who exemplified peer support and mentorship. Diversified Manufacturing Awards were given to eight students who completed Diversified Manufacturing course assessments, received technology certificates or national certifications.

“This is very encouraging,” student Kenneth Thomas said after the ceremony. “When I first signed up for classes, I almost walked out because I thought it’d be too hard. But thanks to Diane Good-Collins (RAP director) and Ms. Zelenka (teacher at OCC) taking their time to encourage us and work with us one-on-one, it gave me the courage to keep trying.”

Thomas wasn’t the only person to express his gratitude on Monday. Hugs, handshakes and cheers were plentiful between students, teachers and administrators during the ceremony.

“You guys are doing good because you have a desire. You have a desire to succeed and that’s what makes you great in this class,” MCC instructor William Fisher said specifically about students participating in Diversified Manufacturing Technology courses.

Throughout the ceremony, Kenyon was excited to share appreciation for all who have helped him obtain his education. He explained his state of mind when he entered NDCS in 2014 – downtrodden, broken and hopeless. But that’s not the person Kenyon appears to be anymore. Optimistic and energetic, he seems to bring light to every conversation. Since his admission to NDCS, Kenyon has graduated high school and passed four college courses.

“I honestly hope and pray that every single one of you guys gets out of this what I got out of it,” he said to the students. “I’ve got a future that’s amazing for me.”