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Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Santa Fe College ranked No. 1 community college in U.S., receives $800,000

Santa Fe College is now the No. 1 community college in the U.S.

The Aspen Institute, an organization that studies education, awarded Santa Fe $800,000 and the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence on Wednesday for its high student success rates.

The institution cited Santa Fe’s graduation and transfer rates, minority student success rates, and its student advising, registration and monitoring program as reasons for success. Santa Fe, along with nine other community colleges, were selected out of more than 1,000 institutions by the Aspen Institute.

This isn’t the first time Santa Fe has made it on the list for the award, which is given out every two years. They were finalists in 2013 after a 2012 nomination.

The award follows second lady Jill Biden’s historical visit to the college last week. Biden spoke in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday at the Aspen event about her support for community colleges and their ability to positively affect students’ lives.

“Now more than ever, Americans are relying on community colleges as stepping stones to college degrees and a better future,” Biden said.

She referenced Erica Laboissoniere, a 40-year-old Santa Fe alumna whom she met during her visit, as an example of community colleges’ ability to affect lives. Laboissoniere was almost a high school dropout who used SFC as a segue to UF.

Santa Fe President Jackson Sasser accepted the award with a smile on his face. He thanked Santa Fe’s faculty, staff and students, saying they were the ones who earned the award.

“To the students at Santa Fe College, this is your award. You did the work,” he said.

Meanwhile at the college, faculty, staff and students shouted and hugged upon hearing the announcement.

Some students ran around campus shouting “We’re No. 1.”

“We’re the top college in the country. That’s awesome, baby!” Student Body President Austin Browning shouted outside the administration building.

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Student ambassador Zita Segarra walked by, leading a group of people touring the college.

“Have you told them the news?” Browning asked Segarra.

“I was going to,” she responded. She turned to the group and said, “We are now the No. 1 (community) college in the U.S.”

The group replied with “oohs.”

At Senate later that night, Vice President of Student Affairs Naima Brown congratulated senators for the work they have done to contribute to the college’s success.

“It was definitely a team effort. Every employee and every trustee made it possible,” she said, then added, “And every student.”

[A version of this story ran on page 1 - 4 on 3/19/2015 under the headline “SFC ranked No. 1 community college”]


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