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Cecil County Life

Cecil College is relevant with ‘Own Your Future’ theme

Dec 31, 2020 11:56AM ● By Tricia Hoadley
By Drewe Phinny
Contributing Writer

There was a time when college students would choose a major in pursuit of a degree that would (hopefully) provide them with the education necessary to excel in their chosen livelihoods. Although that kind of learning was a solid building block for success, the path to a job was somewhat narrow in scope.

Over the past few years, things have really changed due to dynamic and responsive institutions such as Cecil College. When they say, “Own Your Future,” they mean it. From S.T.E.M. degrees to skilled trades, Cecil College offers a wide variety of educational choices that are not only attractive and satisfying to students of all ages, but also representative of fulfilling roles in today’s career landscape that need to be filled. From healthcare professional to cyber-security expert to professional truck driver, the possibilities are endless. A college education is literally a whole new world these days.

Information supplied by Amy Henderson, the director of marketing and communications, describes Cecil College as being centrally located in Maryland’s most northeastern county, with campuses in the towns of North East, Elkton and Port Deposit. The college features a diverse student population, with an enrollment of approximately 2,500 credit students and 3,400 non-credit students. Options include associate degrees, certificate programs and non-credit classes.

The curriculum is a cornucopia of innovative education and training opportunities in an ever-evolving employment market. “Cecil College provides relevant, responsive pathways for new and returning students to own their future in today’s workforce,” said Dr. Christy Dryer, the vice president of academic programs.

This year, Cecil College has received some pretty impressive honors, including designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). “This means graduates of the program are poised for success in this exciting field, having succeeded in a curriculum which meets those agencies’ standards,” said Dryer.

The college also offers a new associate degree in Agricultural Sciences to meet the employment needs of the county and more broadly, the region.

Students can earn their associate in engineering at Cecil College, transfer, and finish their bachelor’s degree with Frostburg State University on the Cecil College campus, or they can switch into the Frostburg program from another pursuit. The application is designed so students can complete their bachelor’s degree at Cecil or at the Frostburg campus.

According to Dryer, the Associate of Science Engineering Program offers a selection of engineering and other natural and physical science courses for students who are interested in concentrations of aerospace, chemical, computer and engineering sciences. The curriculum is designed to meet the needs of students who plan to transfer to a college or university that grants a baccalaureate degree in engineering regardless of concentration.

Under the heading of Visual Communications and the Arts, students can work toward an associate degree in simulation design and gaming, which play a significant role in the rapidly growing field of 3D gaming, an interactive computer entertainment that is graphically presented in the three dimensions of height, weight and depth. Simulation design helps manufacturers verify and validate the intended function of a product under development, as well as the manufacturability of the product. Also, the word “simulation” is often used as a generic term for computer-aided engineering (CAE).

In addition, Dryer explained, state-of-the-art equipment is available in the VCP labs, photography classrooms, video production programs and fine arts studio competitive with regional four-year institution resources.

For a variety of reasons, healthcare has seen a huge increase in job openings over the past several years.

“Cecil College,” Dryer said, “is committed to educational pathways that lead directly to employment and/or earning a degree.”

Study programs for in-demand jobs include the nationally ranked nursing program as well as those in phlebotomy, paramedic and medical assistant. In an effort to continue relevant education in the current healthcare employment climate, the college has launched a new associate degree in Public Health.

One of the many healthcare jobs that is becoming increasingly popular is physical therapist assistant. As the school website points out, if you’re interested in science, health and physical fitness, and you enjoy helping others overcome challenges, pursuing a degree as a PTA might be for you. As a physical therapist assistant, a person would help individuals of all ages to perform functional activities in their daily lives. Under the direction of a licensed physical therapist, you would work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health, nursing homes and schools. The program is full length, full time, five semesters in length, (70 credits) and culminates in an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree, which will prepare students to take the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) for PTA’s, required for practice in all states.

There’s a two-minute video on the website called Cecil College Skilled Trades. It’s flashy, informative and a colorful reminder that, these days, everybody is looking for someone who can fix their car, heat pump or refrigerator. It shifts from quick glimpses of forklift operations to HVAC to welding.

Miles Dean, the dean of career and community education, mentioned that basic construction has been added to that group as well as a new diesel technology program as a response to employment needs in the area. Other selling points include “expert instruction” and “workforce ready.” Just log onto

Dean made an interesting point about the current shortage of commercial transportation drivers and how the Cecil College CDL (Commercial Drivers License) program is “a preferred position among regional choices.” This year, the college received a new PDTI certification from the Professional Truck Driver Institute. PDTI certified programs meet a higher standard, operate ethically and professionally and perform more efficiently.

In this laptop world, students are a click away from email and information, whether they’re in the classroom, the kitchen, or outdoors. Cecil College fits perfectly into this environment with many fully online certificate programs and this year has launched two new degree programs. One is an associate of arts degree in general studies and the other is an associate of applied science degree in transportation logistics and management. The college knows students need flexibility in their learning schedules and they have more than met that challenge in this modern era.

As tuitions rise, Cecil College, already a welcome, affordable exception to expensive alternatives, also provides high school students several ways to get a head start earning college credit and thereby saving money. Programs include concurrent enrollment, senior waiver, STEM Enrollment, on-site programs, dual enrollment and summer courses.

The Early College Academy (ECA) enrolls students as early as ninth grade. As explained on the website, “Successful students complete high school with a diploma (or equivalent) and an associates of arts degree in general studies from Cecil College.”

Community education is a wide-ranging category that serves students of all ages and interests and the endless possibilities are life-enriching. Choices include learning a language, taking a yoga class, learning computer skills, exploring your artistic abilities and more. In fact, new classes are being added all the time, based on student suggestions.

Adult Basic Education (ABE) courses help you help you prepare for some GED (General Education Development) classes, and the GED program is available for those who want to earn their high school equivalency degree. If you already have your high school diploma, you’ll find help with ways to refresh your academic and life skills in preparation for a job search or getting ready for college. Cecil also offers one-on-one tutoring for those with limited reading ability in the Project Literacy Program. Also, foreign-born adults seeking to improve their communication skills can enroll in the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) program.

The cost of a Cecil education is much more affordable than other options. In addition, there are scholarships and financial aid available as well as numerous transfer opportunities. If you have the hunger, Cecil will find a way to accommodate your needs.

Cecil College president Dr. Mary Way Bolt does a great job summarizing the assets: “Cecil College is an inclusive, open-access college committed to academic excellence and service to the greater region. The college provides a supportive learning environment to a diverse body of students as they build the skills and knowledge to achieve academic success, prepare to transfer and enter the workforce. Further, Cecil College fosters intellectual, professional and personal development through lifelong learning opportunities, the arts and community engagement.”

To connect with online services and read the college’s latest updates regarding the coronavirus, visit

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