Bridging the Gap between BCC and UCF

Caroline Anthony fished the handwritten letter out of her pocket.  She’d written it to herself in the fall of 2006.  It was her first day of school at Brevard Community College (BCC), the first day of the rest of her life.

“How often do you write yourself a letter and then five or six years later … you did everything you said you were going to do?” she asked.  “It’s all ratty because I keep it with me in case I don’t feel like pulling an all-nighter and studying really hard.”

The 38-year-old mother of two is one semester away from getting her nursing degree, one semester away from fulfilling a goal that started when she first attended junior college in 1990 … before she fell in love, got married and put college on hold to raise a family.

Her determination is her spark, but it was the Direct Connect program from BCC to the University of Central Florida (UCF) that helped make it possible.

Competitive and Convenient

Under an agreement between the second-largest university in the nation and schools like BCC, Lake-Sumter CC, Valencia CC and Seminole State CC, students who have received their Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degrees are guaranteed admission into UCF.  The program offers participants access to a competitive university that conveniently offers classes near home.

“Our primary focus is to make sure students are prepared to transfer to UCF,” said Shakira Guice, a Direct Connect advisor at BCC.  “We have a lot of students that come in and they’re at BCC and they’re taking basic classes… and then they decide they want to be an engineer.  Well, engineering pre-requisites can take a year, maybe two years, to finish.”

The earlier a student signs up for Direct Connect, the quicker they can be put on a path that will plan out their course schedule and make the transition to UCF a smooth one.

From Dreaming to Doing

Anthony, who had always talked about going back to school, was working as a waitress at Dixie Crossroads in Titusville when she finally decided it was time to stop talking and start doing.  Given how competitive UCF’s nursing program is, her road to getting a degree would have been much tougher without the Direct Connect program.

“I think if I didn’t have BCC to hold my hand and get me started, I would still be waiting tables at Dixie Crossroads, disappointed in myself and feeling like I let people (down),” Anthony reflected.  “But because BCC has that option ….  now, I’m doing everything I said I was going to do, for the first time.”

She’s not alone.  The Direct Connect program is littered with success stories.

It’s Never Too Late

Take Meg Tworkowski, who first attended BCC in 1979, but at 17 didn’t feel like she was ready for college.  Thirty years later, the mother of six was encouraged by her daughter, Chelsea Poling – a UCF student at the time – to return to school and use Direct Connect … just like she did.

Juggling a family and a full-time job at the Chart House in Melbourne could be tricky. However, the fact that UCF offers courses at its main Orlando campus, plus 10 regional campuses throughout the state – including Cocoa and Palm Bay – made it all work.

“I needed something that was going to be really flexible,” the 48-year-old Tworkowski said. “The classes at Palm Bay Regional were perfect for me.  It’s such an unbelievably nurturing, encouraging and inspirational campus that it gave me the best possible environment of personal attention along with academic excellence.  I was blessed.  I felt like it was my own private little university.”

Tworkowski not only dove back in, she became heavily involved in campus activities.  She serves as the president of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology, for the Palm Bay campus.  She is set to graduate in May and wants to pursue her Master’s degree in Social Work.  Her son, Max Poling, is also a BCC student who will be using Direct Connect to go to UCF and pursue a degree in Medical Sciences.

Successes Worth Mentioning

Sally Clausen, 22, graduated from Eau Gallie High School and found out about Direct Connect during her second year at BCC.  She used it to quickly move onto UCF where she is thriving.  In a university-wide competition, she recently received an honorable mention for her research project and plans to pursue a doctoral degree in Cognitive Neuroscience.

Like Tworkowski, the fact she didn’t have to drive an hour to Orlando to take classes made the program a perfect complement to the level of education she knew she would receive at UCF.  She never misses a chance to tell a high school student unsure of where to go, or what to do, about the Direct Connect program.

Sarah Stoeckel, who serves as BCC’s Student Government Association Coordinator for the Titusville campus, has already gotten her Master’s degree in Education Leadership and is planning to go for a Ph.D. in Public Administration – talk about another shining example of how the program can not only be advantageous to the student, but benefit Brevard County as well!

A New Means to a New Direction

Denise Young, Associate Vice President of the Cocoa and Palm Bay campuses for UCF, said the Direct Connect Advisors, like Guice and newly-hired Katie Cash, will visit high schools along with the regular BCC advisors to make sure students are aware of the program and its merits.

With the down economy forcing people to look for other careers, Direct Connect can also be the perfect facilitator to pursuing any one of a number of highly-popular degrees, such as Psychology, Elementary Education, Business Administration, Communications, Communication Sciences and Disorders and of course, Nursing.

UCF takes in roughly 1,000 transfers from BCC each year through the Direct Connect partnership, making it UCF’s second-largest source of transfer students.  “We want to be an alternative people plan for, not something you do because you couldn’t do something else,” Young explained.  “Because it’s so competitive to get into UCF, Direct Connect makes the guarantee money-in-the-bank for these students.”

Making Dreams Come True

With 13,000 students who have graduated from both BCC and UCF through the 2+2 and now Direct Connect program in the roughly 30 years the agreements have been in place, there is no question it has been, and continues to be, a resounding success for students – especially for people like Caroline Anthony, Meg Tworkowski, Sally Cullen and Sarah Stoeckel.

“If you quit again, not only will everyone else quit believing in you, but worst of all, you’ll quit believing in yourself,” Anthony wrote to herself.  “Your kids are proud of what you’re doing; your husband and parents are proud and your friends are watching because they want to know if they can make it happen, too.”

With the help of Direct Connect, Anthony is about to answer that question.  When it comes time to frame her diploma, she’s going to frame that ratty old letter she’s been carrying in her pocket for the past five years along with it.

She pursued her dream with a passion.  Direct Connect helped make it possible.

BCC Profile

(Based on 2009-10 Reporting Year)

Average student enrollment                             28,499

Average college credit enrollment                   25,014

Average age student enrollment                          27.4

Average age college credit enrollment                 25.7

Breakdown of student enrollment by ethnicity

White                                                                73.8{099636d13cf70efd8d812c6f6a5a855fb6f8f27f35bea282d2df1d5ae896e2c2}

Black                                                                 11.4{099636d13cf70efd8d812c6f6a5a855fb6f8f27f35bea282d2df1d5ae896e2c2}

Hispanic                                                              7.7{099636d13cf70efd8d812c6f6a5a855fb6f8f27f35bea282d2df1d5ae896e2c2}

Unknown                                                            3.5{099636d13cf70efd8d812c6f6a5a855fb6f8f27f35bea282d2df1d5ae896e2c2}

Asian                                                                   3.0{099636d13cf70efd8d812c6f6a5a855fb6f8f27f35bea282d2df1d5ae896e2c2}

Native American                                                 0.6{099636d13cf70efd8d812c6f6a5a855fb6f8f27f35bea282d2df1d5ae896e2c2}

Breakdown of Student Enrollment by Gender

Female                                                                 56{099636d13cf70efd8d812c6f6a5a855fb6f8f27f35bea282d2df1d5ae896e2c2}

Male                                                                     44{099636d13cf70efd8d812c6f6a5a855fb6f8f27f35bea282d2df1d5ae896e2c2}

Enrollment Status/College Credit

Part-Time                                                             61{099636d13cf70efd8d812c6f6a5a855fb6f8f27f35bea282d2df1d5ae896e2c2}

Full-Time                                                             39{099636d13cf70efd8d812c6f6a5a855fb6f8f27f35bea282d2df1d5ae896e2c2}

Degrees Sought

Associate of Arts                                                 64{099636d13cf70efd8d812c6f6a5a855fb6f8f27f35bea282d2df1d5ae896e2c2}

Associate of Science                                            15{099636d13cf70efd8d812c6f6a5a855fb6f8f27f35bea282d2df1d5ae896e2c2}

Certificate                                                            10{099636d13cf70efd8d812c6f6a5a855fb6f8f27f35bea282d2df1d5ae896e2c2}

Annual Graduation by Program

Associate of Arts                                               2,140

College Credit Certificate                                     630

Certificates                                                            502

Associate of Science                                             413

Advanced Technical Diploma                                65

Apprentice Certificate                                            48

Mean GPA of BCC transfer students enrolled in the State University System…………. 2.94

Percentage of BCC transfer students enrolled in the State University System with GPA’s at or above 2.5 74.62{099636d13cf70efd8d812c6f6a5a855fb6f8f27f35bea282d2df1d5ae896e2c2}

Top Ten College/Career Programs by Enrollment

  1. Associate in Arts
  2. Chemical Technology
  3. Business Administration and Management
  4. Nursing (Associate Degree) R.N.
  5. Computer Information Administrator (tied)
  6. Early Childhood Education A.D. (tied)
  7. Paralegal Studies (Legal Asst)
  8. Criminal Justice Technology
  9. Law Enforcement
  10. Drafting & Design Technology