A new partnership between American International College (AIC) and two community groups working to promote access to higher education is designed to benefit families in Springfield by empowering parents to support their children's academic success.
AIC joined hands with the Coalition of Experienced Black Educators (COEBE) and the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership to organize a community forum called Parents as Partners on the Pathway to Higher Education, reflecting the College’s values of Access and Community. The event, initiated by State Representative Bud Williams of Springfield, equipped dozens of families with valuable insight into the higher education process and the crucial role parents play in their children’s college experience.
During the forum, keynote speaker and President of AIC Hubert Benitez DDS, PhD, emphasized the importance of removing barriers to higher education and making it accessible to everyone, irrespective of their background or financial situation.
“AIC continues to fulfill its promise of working collaboratively with its community members and partners to increase awareness of the value of an education and to create structured pathways for students to pursue a higher education degree,” said President Benitez. “Collaborating with COEBE is another example of how members of our community can work together to continue to promote equality of opportunity and support the social mobility of the people of Mason Square and the City of Springfield.”
AIC was recently recognized as a top performer for social mobility by the 2022-23 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings. AIC's ranking tied for number sixty-nine, placing the College second in Massachusetts in the report's National College category, behind only the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Although the cost to obtain a college degree may be perceived as a barrier to higher education, the forum participants learned that the actual expense is frequently lower than the published "sticker price." This is because students often obtain financial assistance through grants and scholarships. AIC is a perfect example of this, as 100% of its students receive some form of financial aid.
The value of obtaining higher education was further supported by a recent study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce, which revealed that young Americans without a college degree are unlikely to find economic stability and are more likely to be stuck in low-earning jobs than not by age thirty.
Longtime educator and member of COEBE Willette Johnson expressed the group’s strong commitment to partnering with AIC to help guide students toward higher education, which can result in future financial stability and a better quality of life.
Johnson commended the College president for his inspirational keynote address, saying, "Dr. Benitez delivered a flawless message about the crucial role of parents and other caring adults in a child's educational journey. He also provided critical information about how the influence of those who have walked the path before them can make a significant difference in a young person's future potential. We were fortunate to have the President's poise and friendly presence," Willette said.
Willette shared her excitement about collaborating with AIC on similar initiatives in the future, a sentiment echoed by Dr. Benitez, who emphasized, “Education is the key to success, and every student deserves access to quality higher education.”