St. Gregory’s University and Gordon Cooper Technology Center signed an agreement this week, that will give students who complete Gordon Cooper’s Career Tech program a chance to transfer those credits toward a degree at St. Gregory’s.
The partnership is designed to allow any Gordon Cooper student who has earned a Career Tech certification since Sept. 23, 2008, to pursue an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree at St. Gregory’s. Students will receive up to 32 hours of credit toward an Associate of Applied Science degree from St. Gregory’s, the equivalent of 50 percent progress toward completion of their degree. They can also transfer an additional 10 hours of credit toward a Bachelor’s of Applied Sciences degree.
“Partnering with an outstanding institution like Gordon Cooper is an incredible opportunity,” SGU President Greg Main said. “As a living, breathing learning institution, St. Gregory’s will always look for ways to encourage the expansion of knowledge. Some of these avenues may not fit into the box of traditional methods, but they are vitally important to the betterment of communities and of society as a whole.
“St. Gregory’s recognizes the value of the experience Gordon Cooper students earn through their studies, and we look forward to helping them further their academic careers for years to come.”
Established in 1970, Gordon Cooper Technology Center has gained a reputation for excellence and is viewed as one of the nation’s premier educational and training institutions. Serving about 1,000 full-time students annually across its campuses in Shawnee and Seminole, Gordon Cooper has been recognized as a Gold Star school eight times since 2000.
Partnering with St. Gregory’s was an easy decision for the leaders of Gordon Cooper. The desire of SGU’s administration to do what was necessary to meet the needs of their students, including tailoring degrees around local business and industry needs, fit well with Gordon Cooper’s mission to provide its students with the best educational opportunities possible, as they transition from one level of higher education to another.
“This agreement will allow more students an opportunity to take themselves further in high demand, high wage occupations,” Gordon Cooper Superintendent Marty Lewis said. “We have found that it’s not just a degree that is a ticket for students to succeed—it’s a degree with credentials. This agreement will allow St. Gregory’s to provide the degree side, while we provide the credentials, and that’s important not only to the student, but to employers, as well.”
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Gordon Cooper Special Projects Coordinator Dr. Andrea Ellis said many of their students are excited that they will be able to stay in Shawnee to continue their educations, while the agreement allows others to see the potential for taking their educations further than they initially thought possible.
“I heard multiple students talking about how they can have a pathway to getting their bachelor’s degree through St. Gregory’s,” Ellis said, “and that light bulb comes on that they can continue their education to an undergraduate degree. These are students who may not have thought about college before, but who are now saying that this is a good thing because it’s more practical.
“Thirty-two hours of college credit is huge for students. To come out of our programs with a completion certificate and almost have half of their Associate’s degree completed is amazing.”
St. Gregory’s created the Associate of Applied Sciences degree specifically to accommodate the academic needs of Gordon Cooper students who wished to continue their educations without losing credit for the knowledge they have already earned, giving both schools the chance to not just train people to do a job, but the opportunity to create a career for themselves.
“If a student wants to transfer the technical credits earned at Gordon Cooper to a community college,” said Dr. William Mayfield, St. Gregory’s Vice President of Graduate and Continuing Education, “they are typically only allowed to transfer to like classes. If that community college doesn’t offer classes in their area of study, they can’t transfer there without having to start over. St. Gregory’s will give students credit for all of the work they put in to earning their Career Tech certifications.
“This agreement strengthens the educational bonds of this community and allows the adult learner direct access where they have never had direct access before. This is a true partnering of Career Tech and Private Higher Education, and it allows for Gordon Cooper and SGU to work with companies and allow their employees to gain greater experience and a greater knowledge base and greater opportunities for promotion.”
It’s that very partnership that Ellis sees as the most exciting aspect of the agreement for Gordon Cooper’s students.
“I love when educational institutions collaborate,” Ellis said. “That’s when we really foster great environments for students and for Shawnee’s economic development. By presenting those students with the opportunity to easily pursue more education, they can get better jobs or move up within their current companies, and we can really start to see an entire generation change. It is a great thing for our community as a whole.”
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For more information about the degree paths and options that St. Gregory’s University offers, visit www.stgregorys.edu. To learn how you can become part of Gordon Cooper’s Career Tech program, visit www.gctech.org.