Spartanburg Community College President Dr. Michael Mikota feels higher education plays a critical role in helping prepare adults for future jobs as the I-85 corridor continues to grow and develop.
SCC has invested more than $20 million to develop the 62-acre Cherokee County branch campus since it started in 2007. The community college supports economic and workforce development in the Upstate as it provides education and training for 6,000 students in Spartanburg, Union and Cherokee counties.
Mikota highlighted the need to provide education and job training opportunities for students Tuesday during the Gaffney Rotary Club meeting. Mikota, a Gaffney native, became SCC president on July 13.
“Spartanburg Community College is in a great position to continue to grow and expand,” Mikota said. “I want to have the opportunity for the highest success rate for our students for their return on investment, and to be a much broader and bigger economic engine for the Upstate region.”
One of the challenges involves helping students transition into programs which fit their skills and meet needs in the workforce.
For example, Mikota recalls how the college’s transitional studies program helped a student with outstanding math and science skills overcome reading difficulties.
“The student was able to graduate from medical school and is currently doing a fellowship at Yale University to become a medical doctor,” Mikota said. “This is an example of the importance in providing opportunities for students to access higher education. There are no limits to what we can accomplish.”
Spartanburg Community College and the school district recently started an Early College program.
The hybrid program has 30 9th- and 10th-grade students enrolled in Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) elective classes this fall. The hybrid program will see students start college classes in the Hoke Parris business and training center in spring of 2021.
In four years, students will be able to graduate with a high school diploma and receive a 2- year associate degree with Spartanburg Community College.
Mikota was scheduled to meet Wednesday with Cherokee County Superintendent Dr. Dana Fall to discuss ways to strengthen the community college’s connections with local high schools and partnership with the Institute of Innovation.
“The meeting place between what the economy needs and what higher education is producing, it’s not quite there,” Mikota said. “I’m excited about trying to see what the community college can do to bridge that gap. Much like the rest of the region, Spartanburg and Cherokee County are primed to take the next step with our location along the I-85 corridor which will continue to serve as the nexus for growth between Charlotte and Atlanta.”