Bridging the Gap: Between the Campus and the Community
Allegany College of Maryland has always been a school that has worked to serve the community since its first days on Frederick Street in Cumberland in 1961. It’s a school that serves the local tri-state area in many ways, through programs and tools, such as SL/CE, internships, scholarships, grants, and education for career preparation. ACM is dedicated to educating students for their future while serving the community around them. Students from ages 17 to 70 have opportunities for service hours, internships, and many other chances to get hands-on experience in the local tri-state area. “We [ACM] are the cornerstone of education in this community” stated Shauna McQuade, Director of Public Relations and Marketing.
The college has formed a relationship with the community, first through its students. ACM works with about 3,000 credit hour students and 7,000 continuing education students, many of whom are residents of Frostburg. ACM provides students, especially local students, an affordable, yet quality educational experience through scholarships offered through the college. One scholarship, in particular, has helped over 870 students from across the tri-state area: the Allegany County Opportunity Scholarship. Recipients represent every community of Allegany County, with a variety of ages, majors, and schooling backgrounds. “When we discuss the impact of the investment the county has made in the Opportunity Scholarship program, we’re talking about the students- our neighbors- whose lives are changed for the better,” said David Jones, Community Relations Vice President and Foundation Executive Director.
The SL/CE program (Service Learning and Civic Engagement Center) works to engage students in service learning and civic engagement. SL/CE has generated 2,592 hours of service learning. Through 488 student volunteers and 68 community partners, ACM students gain work experience in a variety of different fields, from walking dogs at the Allegany County Animal Shelter to participating in a community dialogue in Eat. Learn. Shift. Through these programs, students are able to interact and work with the community in unique ways. Students of all majors also gain workforce experience through internships with community businesses including the Western Maryland Health System and IBM, just to name a few. The college often works directly with employers to educate students on updated training and procedures. This allows students to gain experience, volunteer hours, training, and even job opportunities from employers and companies right within the local area.
Recently, the college has been awarded several grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission to help improve the education and skills of the current and future students of ACM. The Appalachian Regional Commission provides funding to increase the education and skill training for those residing and working in the Appalachian Region. The ARC has helped fund the college’s downtown Cumberland Gateway Center, where the ACM hospitality programs are located. This funding will provide new equipment for the college’s culinary arts program and the student-run Culinaire Cafe. This project aligns with the federal-state partnership’s goal of promoting economic activity within the local area by working to raise employee skill and education level for the needs of employers, and will also help support the area’s economic development initiatives. The associate degrees and certificate programs in hospital management and culinary arts also help support the growing tourism sector within the region and the state. The ARC has also provided funding to the automotive technology program to add diesel service training and widen the employment options of the graduates from the program. These grants and funding opportunities promote workforce development and encourage economic growth to the local area. By providing more funds and opportunities to the students, it not only allows students to learn more and gain more experience but creates and promotes careers for students in the local area.
Whether you are a current student, alumni, or a community member, the Allegany College of Maryland has been a part of your life. The college has formed an inseparable bond with the tristate area and is working to strengthen the future of our region as well. This relationship allows Allegany County and the students many opportunities for growth, success, careers, civic engagement, and above all knowledge, that will strengthen the area. “The college has become a family for students and we only wish to change the lives of the students that come through our doors, and working closely with the community allows us to do that,” expressed Shauna McQuade.
For more information about Allegany College of Maryland or any of the programs mentioned visit allegany.edu or call 301-784-5000.
Written by Sidney Beeman- FrostburgFirst Fall Intern 2018