MCCC Staff present at NACADA Conference on Perkins Grant Programs


Wilmington, D.E. – Representatives from Mercer County Community College (MCCC) shared the college’s vision and implementation of the Perkins grant program at the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) Conference: The Global Community for Academic Advising Delaware Drive-In on Sept. 20.

Andrew Millin, Program Coordinator of the Medical Office Assistant & Respiratory Care programs and Perkins Education Specialist, along with Perkins Success Coaches Melanie De Gardnuer and David Ford, spent the day at the conference both as learners and teachers, presenting on the effectiveness of student success initiatives.

The Perkins Grant is awarded to secondary and post-secondary education programs with the intent of preparing students for a rapidly changing workforce and society.

Just last year, MCCC made additions to both its Automotive Technology and Nursing programs through Perkins funds. The Auto workshop added a computerized, drive-on lift, while the nursing lab welcomed a maternity simulator.

At the conference, Millin, De Gardnuer and Ford took in presentations that highlighted best practices for advising students, as well as ensuring faculty and staff are properly equipped to implement measures provided by the grant.

De Gardnuer appreciated the session titled, “Branching Out: Rooted in Serving our Students,” which emphasized understanding and being flexible with work styles and preferences.

“As a success coach I’m tasked with, among other things, making sure students are on target to graduate,” De Gardnuer said. Graduating is a great achievement, but if students aren’t properly prepared, the lead up to wearing a cap and gown can be taxing.

Millin added that faculty and staff have the responsibility to not only figure out how to work best with students, but also be prepared to provide assistance across a variety of disciplines.

“The Perkins staff at Mercer held readings and training sessions available to staff college-wide,” Millin said. “Academic advisors are just one part of the equation. And at Mercer, we have staff in all branches of student services – enrollment, financial aid, life and leadership – who can help students make the most out of their education.”

In addition to student advising, De Gardnuer and her co-workers supported MCCC’s teachers.

“We revamped the one-page syllabus insert faculty use to make sure their students are aware of the services the school provides,” De Gardnuer said.

When it came time to take the stage, Millin, De Gardnuer and Ford presented on the ways in which Mercer has succeeded at prioritizing Perkins plans to fuel student success.

“One of the things we were proud of this year was our speaker series,” Millin said. Millin and his staff held over 20 events that invited professions to talk to students about career prospects and finding success after graduation.

“It’s important that students can see real-world examples of where they might work or what they might do after Mercer,” Millin added.

“At the end of the day, this program isn’t about adding shiny new materials to classrooms and laboratories,” Millin said. “This is about pursuing positive outcomes for students in career and technical education.”

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From left, Perkins Success Staff Andrew Millin, Melanie De Gardnuer and David Ford.