Santa Fe College recently held a ceremony in honor of its achievement as one of the top community colleges in the nation, but there could be more accolades to come.
The college announced Wednesday that it is ranked as one of the top 10 community colleges in the nation and is eligible for a $1 million prize fund.
Santa Fe College President Jackson Sasser spoke at the ceremony, saying he believed the rank wouldn’t be possible without a great community.
“This is a community celebration,” he said. “Certainly, Santa Fe is a symbol of that today, but this is a celebration of success in the whole community.”
The Aspen Institute, the educational organization that gave out out the award, judged colleges on academic achievement, degree completion, job placement, and minority and low-income student accomplishments.
“We’ve routinely had some the highest retention in graduation rates in the country on top of some of the highest transfer rates in the state,” said David Durkee, student body president.
Durkee said he felt a lot of pride for himself and fellow students, and said he was honored with the achievements of his school.
“It’s not a huge surprise having been here for a few years now,” he said. “The quality of the instructions that we have, (and) the type of staff and administration who are really student centered. Honestly, it’s a well-deserved award.”
Many local and state politicians went to the ceremony to congratulate the school on its award.
State Representative Elect Clovis Watson Jr. said he thought the ranking will bring more students to Santa Fe College to get their degrees.
“Maybe some students come here as a springboard to go to universities or other four-year institutions, but now Santa Fe College is a four-year institution as well,” he said. “They come to Santa Fe to be a part of Santa Fe and graduate Santa Fe and go out to the job market. That’s what I did, and I think others will follow, in particularly now that it is the top 10.”
Watson, a former Santa Fe College student, said above all of the accolades, students have to look at the employees for the success.
“I think it will go a long way when they graduate from here and go in the job market and say ‘I graduated from a top-10 college.’ That’s a big deal,” he said.
Sasser praised his faculty and staff with the amount of work they put in and during the ceremony, and had everyone in the audience stand up to be thanked.
In November, the Aspen Institute will tour each ranked college. The selection for top community college in the nation will come in March from Washington, D.C.
Chris Alcantara edited this story online.