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Penn College Student, Staffer Take Part in Statewide Conference

Brandon O'Dowd, third from left, sits on a discussion panel at the recent Pennsylvania Association of Developmental Educators conference.A student panelist and an employee presenter exemplified Pennsylvania College of Technology’s academic support services at the annual Pennsylvania Association of Developmental Educators conference, held March 26-27 at Grantville.

Brandon O’Dowd, a heating, ventilation and air conditioning technology major from Flemington, N.J., was a guest panelist at the conference this year’s theme was “Increasing the Odds for Student Success” and Henriette K. Evans, Act 101 academic and career specialist, presented two workshops.

The discussion was facilitated by Carmy Carranza, chairperson of the Department of Developmental Studies at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and featured a group of six students who drew upon their educational experiences to discuss factors that most impacted their academic success. The panel comprised current students and graduates of community colleges and four-year institutions, all of whom shared one characteristic: They entered higher education in need of developmental classes.

O’Dowd views academic achievement as “not just getting good grades, but how one gets those good grades,” and attributes his success to the “stubbornness of instructors” whose constant help would not let him fail.

Henriette K. EvansDropping out was never an option, he said, despite the roadblocks he had to overcome including his unpreparedness to deal with the machinery workshops: “I am quite slow at it, but with help, I get it. I would rather finish, get a degree and then relax. Getting a “˜D’ is a failure for me; I have always wanted more, since grade school.”

His advice to faculty is to keep going regardless of students’ attitude, recommending, “Trick the students to bring them in for help.”

The panelists emphasized the assistance they received from Act 101 programs at their schools. Their message to conference attendees was to continue advocacy of developmental education and to further the opportunities for students to learn regardless of the obstacles. The panel received a standing ovation at the end of the session for its members’ important insights on students’ needs and their standpoints on academic success.

During the workshop titled “Student Advisory Committees A Winning Deal,” Evans discussed how to make the best use of resources to engage students in leadership activities. Participants explored the creation and coordination of such committees, as well as the recruiting and retention of committee members and the insights that they can provide.

Evans collaborated with Pamela Czapla, director of tutorial services at Lock Haven University, on presenting a second workshop titled “Marketing With Appeal: Increasing the Odds That Students Will Use Learning Centers.” Format and tone were the two aspects of marketing discussed to craft appealing messages that invite students to seek help in tutoring and learning centers.

Evans has been a PADE board member for the past four years and is the editor of The Informer, the biannual association newsletter. She previously coordinated PADE’s northeastern regional conferences, including an October 2005 event at Penn College.

Additional information on developmental education is available online . For general information about Penn College, visit on the Web , e-mail or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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