Kankakee Community College to add two accelerated programs in Fall 2021


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Kankakee Community College will add two accelerated programs in Fall 2021: Black Studies Pathway and Health Careers Honors.

“The Black Studies Pathway will provide a comprehensive study of the variety of Black experiences, encouraging and imparting skills of critical thinking, research methods, analysis, and written and oral expression,” said Jessica Oladapo, KCC sociology professor and faculty mentor for the program.

The new pathway is modeled after the college’s Fast Path program, and both offer a way for students to build a community while completing a liberal arts sequence.

“Students in the Black Studies Pathway will take a predetermined schedule of two classes, two days a  week, earning a degree at the end of two years,” said Jennifer Hays Huggins, dean of liberal arts and sciences at KCC. “Students learn together as a cohort with a mentor and built-in resources to help ensure their success.”

“This pathway is designed specifically with Black students in mind to ensure representation and visibility, which has a positive impact on belonging, which improves retention,” Oladapo said. “However, it is equally important that non-Black students are also encouraged to explore the general education courses and electives that have particular emphasis on the contribution of Black Americans to develop cultural competence.”

Students who complete the Black Studies Pathway earn an Associate in Arts transfer degree, appropriate for those planning to complete a bachelor of arts in any area. It is also a starting point for undecided students. The A.A. is a general degree accepted by the Illinois Articulation Agreement, which makes it transferable to more than 100 participating colleges and universities in Illinois.

“All colleges and universities participating in IAI agree to accept a ‘package’ of IAI general education courses in lieu of their own comparable lower-division general education requirements,” the iTransfer site states.

Black Studies Pathway classes will meet in-person on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., beginning Aug. 17 on KCC’s Riverfront Campus in Kankakee. Each participant receives a laptop computer to use for the online elements of the degree, in addition to personalized support from the program mentor and advisement staff.

The Black Studies Pathway will accept up to 24 students each fall.

More details and an information request form are at blackstudies.kcc.edu, or phone 815-802-8500.

The Health Careers Honors option gives qualified students a route to earn guaranteed entry into a KCC Health Careers program.

“We are opening the door to more high achieving students so they can be prepared for careers in high demand occupations, and gain employment within our community,” said Sheri Cagle, dean of health careers at KCC. 

Because of the many articulation agreements KCC has secured with four-year universities, graduates will be able to continue work toward a bachelor’s degree immediately following graduation.

Selected students must first qualify for the program by July 1, 2021. Classes begin the week of Aug. 16.

“This program is offered to students with high potential based on their previous academic achievements,” said Kiana Battle, Ph.D., KCC vice president for academic affairs. 

Once admitted, the Health Careers Honors program starts with a “fast track” semester of general education courses, with in-person classes three days per week. There are online learning and lab components of the courses as well. The semester includes orientation to Health Career Programs, plus six other courses. Most courses will be offered in an eight week format. 

“The pace and rigor of completing seven general education classes in one semester won’t be for everyone, so we have included academic entry requirements,” Cagle said.

The initial semester of general education has required tutoring sessions. Leadership and other honors activities will be introduced as well.

Those who complete each class during the “fast track” semester with a C or better grade will have guaranteed entry into the next available cohort in the health career program of their choice. In essence, students can bypass most of the enrollment process for these KCC programs: Paramedic, Respiratory Therapist, Physical Therapist Assistant, Radiography, and Registered Nursing.

The Health Honors Program will accept up to 20 students each fall and spring semester. Applications are being accepted now for Fall 2021.

As they enter individual health programs, Health Careers Honors students will join the different cohorts for the rest of their clinical and classroom training, Cagle said. Honors activities such as leadership opportunities and job shadowing will continue through graduation.

Each health career program at KCC has one or more transfer agreements with area colleges and universities. The bachelor’s degree programs have both in-person and online options.

More details and an information request form are at healthhonors.kcc.edu, or phone 815-802-8500.


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