Lane Glenn Shares His Community College Story and Wants You To Do the Same

Northern Essex Community College President Lane A. Glenn kicks off the #MyCommunityCollege campaign. (Courtesy photograph.)

Today is the beginning of what is hoped becomes a national campaign to raise awareness of community college benefits as well as share the success stories of some high-profile graduates.

Northern Essex Community College President Lane A. Glenn launched the conversation today with a post on his “Running the Campus” blog. Even though nearly half of all students completing a bachelor’s degree also attended a community college, he says, those early beginnings tend to be forgotten.

“I encounter people all of the time who have attended community colleges and seem to have let that fade from their minds,” he joked during an interview with WHAV.

Instead, Glenn is calling on former community college students to speak up one-on-one, but also on social media using the hashtag #MyCommunityCollege. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are among the options. “Each of these platforms is a way of us expressing, oftentimes, the best of who we are,” he said.

Glenn says awareness encourages more people to become involved with their local community college. This could mean serving on an advisory board, volunteering as a tutor or mentor, speaking as a guest lecturer or making a donation. Contrary to what some people may think, he notes, community colleges are “barely” publicly funded in some cases.

Community colleges also “deserve and need” attention at the federal and state levels, he said, explaining policies, laws and student financial aid regulations are at stake.

Ensuring national participation, Glenn has reached out to groups like the American Association of Community Colleges and Association of Community College Trustees, as well as trade media such as Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle for Higher Education.

The campaign’s secret weapon will be endorsements from well-known entertainment and business figures.

“You’d be surprised by some of the people who have attended community colleges. Tom Hanks comes to mind or the author Amy Tan comes to mind. John Hope Bryant, who some people know from the Hope Institute—a billionaire, now philanthropist who teaches people how to become entrepreneurs, is a proud graduate of San Diego Community College,” Glenn notes.

Glenn isn’t just speaking as a community college president.

“When the time came for me to go to college, I was a smart kid, but we didn’t know how to navigate that and then we didn’t have money,” he explains. “I was about to go ROTC, follow in my father’s footsteps, when a local bank in Del City, Okla.—Del State Bank, it was called back then—came through with a scholarship, pretty modest. It was $150 a semester. I still have the certificate that paid for all of my tuition at a nearby community college which, back then, was Oscar Rose Junior College in Midwest City, Okla.”

Glenn urges listeners to tell their stories on social media. Use the hashtag #MyCommunityCollege.

Editor’s note: Tim Coco is a graduate of Northern Essex Community College.

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