Politics and religion always provoke passionate emotions leading to endless debate. We have seen some of that recently, involving invocation or lack thereof, at the commencement ceremonies of Pasco-Hernando Community College.
It is enrollment time, a time to shift the focus to what is more important to the students at the college — the education offered by PHCC to people of all ages, colors and faiths.
Times are tough with the weak economy and high unemployment. A lot of potential students understandably may assume they cannot afford to go to college. Actually, that is when people need to go to college. Education is the fuel that drives the economy.
Education not only increases employment opportunities and spells success, but also teaches tolerance and propagates freedom. "Only the educated are free," said Epictetus, as far back as the first century A.D.
Aristotle observed, around 350 B.C., that "The fate of empires depends on the education of youth" and that "Education is the best provision for old age."
Education imparts knowledge, improves intelligence, brings wisdom and builds character. "Genius without education is like silver in the mine," Benjamin Franklin said.
My grandmother always reminded me as I was growing up that whenever you settle for less, you end up with less than you settled for. If you want to do better, get additional training, improve your skills, redirect your focus or pursue higher education. PHCC is here to help you in many ways.
There is something for everyone at PHCC: Dual enrollment programs for high school students, associate in arts program, associates in science and applied science programs for high school graduates, associated certificate programs, technical certificate and technology diploma programs for people interested in joining the work force, on-line courses for people already in the work force to further their careers and many special courses even for senior citizens. A childcare center at the west campus is a blessing for students with small children.
While education at a community college is not free or cheap, it is a true bargain compared to alternatives. Fully accredited and locally available, it is a first-class education. There are many financial-aid opportunities (grants, scholarships, loans, etc) available, if you qualify. Total financial aid for PHCC students in the year 2008-09 was close to $23 million.
PHCC, the final link in Florida's chain of 28 community colleges, serves 1,200 square miles in Pasco and Hernando counties, has full-fledged campuses in Dade City, New Port Richey and Brooksville. In Spring Hill, a small center is being replaced by a new breathtaking $45 million campus at Hunter's Lake, off U.S. 19. It is ready to enroll 2,000 students this fall. Another new campus is in the works in Wesley Chapel, to open by 2013-14.
Find yourself at one of these beautiful campuses this summer. Who knows where you may find yourself later. Some of the proud PHCC graduates include people who've served as secretary of state, superintendent of schools, state representatives and a Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper reporter — just to mention a few.
You owe it to yourself to find out about the opportunity that suits you best. Go ahead, make the call, check out the website and fill out the application. What are you waiting for? It is easier than you think.
Dr. Rao Musunuru, a Bayonet Point cardiologist, has been a member of PHCC's District Board of Trustees since 1999 and twice served as chairman.