South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) is passionate about helping every person achieve their educational goals, regardless of their past educational background. The opening of SPSCC’s new Center for Transition Studies is one way they are stepping out of the box of traditional college formatting to affirm their dedication to students that normally are overlooked. “Transition Studies areas are often, literally and metaphorically, positioned in the periphery,” says Dawn Murphy, associate dean of Transition Studies at SPSCC. “The location of this building on campus says that TS students belong here.”

Associate Dean of Transition Studies, Dawn Murphy (middle), celebrates the opening on the new Center for Transition Studies during a social before the ribbon cutting. Photo credit: South Puget Sound Community College

The Center will house adult education programs which prepare students for entry into their dream – whether that’s continuing on to regular college courses, a vocational or technical program or a workplace. The Center for Transition Studies houses the Adult Basic Education (ABE), English as a Second Language (ESL), and Intensive English for International Students instructional programs including skills development in reading, listening, speaking, writing, mathematics, career and college readiness, high school completion and Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (IBEST).

No matter a student’s goal, the SPSCC Transition Studies program will help them achieve it. Students in these programs are not that different in age from the average college student. “The most significant distinction for Transition Studies student is that they aren’t college ready,” Murphy explains.

Murphy explains that across the country, these types of programs, including Adult Basic Education and English as a Second Language, are often held in substandard instructional spaces. “The basement classroom or the building on the other side of town that in a few years will be condemned, these are the spaces into which ABE/ESL programs are relegated,” she says. “Other institutions, places, communities may marginalize this already vulnerable population of learners. The Center for Transition Studies at SPSCC, in its physical beauty, technological sophistication and central placement on campus, makes a clear statement to the students and to the community.” That statement, she adds, is that SPSCC welcomes these students and is providing an equitable chance for college and career success.

SPSCC Transitional Studies
SPSCC President Tim Stokes spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony that took place December 12 at 5:00 p.m. Photo credit: South Puget Sound Community College

Formerly, Transition Studies on the Mottman campus were held in Building 33 and Building 34. They will now be held in Building 28. The move to the new location was part of SPSCC’s master plan. “Renovation of Building 28 and moving programs from Building 33 was the most recent project as a part of our master plan,” says Laura Price, director of facilities at SPSCC. “Our goal is to address facilities with the greatest need and ensure programs have quality learning environments and state-of-the-art technology.”

The remodel of Building 28 will give Transition Studies six dedicated classrooms with state-of-the-art technology, as well as study and conference rooms and faculty offices. “This is both an increase in space and a huge step in quality and resources,” adds Price.

While the move was part of the college’s master plan, it’s also representative of a bigger, state-wide goal which all community and technical colleges are a part of:  to have 100 percent of Washington State adults earning a high school diploma. “SPSCC’s High School 21+ (Competency-Based High School Diploma Program) has been reaching out to surrounding communities to expand access to a high school diploma,” explains Murphy. “Adults 21 years of age or older and who do not have a high school diploma can complete their diploma at SPSCC.”

Trustee Leonor Fuller had the honors of actually cutting the ribbon, with the Transition Studies faculty showing full support behind her. Photo credit: South Puget Sound Community College

Assisting in these efforts is the South Puget Sound Education Foundation, the non-profit arm of the college whose mission is to close the educational gap by providing support to students to create access to education. The Transition Studies program aligns with their mission perfectly. “We have several scholarship funds available that will help these students in transition be successful by removing the financial barriers to their hard work,” says Anne Larsen, director of development for the SPSCC Foundation. Students interested in learning more can contact the Foundation online or by calling 360-596-5430.

Without a high school diploma, an adult’s choices are limited when it comes to a career that will support themselves, let alone a family. SPSCC’s new Center for Transition Studies will help even more adults in our community finish their degrees and plan for a brighter future.

To learn more about the Transition Studies program, visit the South Puget Sound Community College website or call 360-596-5317.


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