By Shelby Horton
Tom Hanks recently wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times, entitled, “I owe It All to Community College,” describing his experiences as a college student in the 1970s.
In the wake of President Obama’s recent proposal for free community college, Hanks’ piece helped spur discussion on the topic.
The Academy Award-winning actor described his time at Chabot Community College in Hayward, Calif.
Starting as an underachieving student with low SAT scores, he had applied to two upscale universities and was denied.
Hanks entered Chabot, where he expanded his horizons and began to find his way in life.
“I made Chabot’s dean’s list taking classes I loved, classes I loathed, classes I aced and classes I dropped within the first hour,” Hanks said. “Classes I took at Chabot have rippled through my professional pond.”
Hanks said community college can be for everyone, not just new high school graduates, but for veterans, mothers, and people looking to improve their lives through a quality education.
Dr. Carter File, president of Hutchinson Community College, describes a community college as a servant of the community. It provides the resources and education to help better the individual and the community as a whole, he said.
“Community colleges are sometimes looked down upon because they’re not a big university,” said Debra Pitzer, HCC nursing program coordinator.
“To know someone like Tom Hanks benefited from community college is exciting news,” she said.
The staff at HCC passed around Hanks’ article on Jan. 14 via email. File had received several emails that spread like a viral video, containing the article’s URL, before he even had time to read them.
The HCC staff is divided on the proposal, though some agree with the idea, but with caution.
“The proposal is bold, ambitious and worth pursuing,” said David Planthold, HCC social media coordinator. “Our education system is in a crisis, with a 30% dropout in high school. Funding this program provides hope that an investment in time will lead to a fulfilling career.”
Hanks has shown his support for the free community college proposal, by telling of his own experiences in a two-year school.
“I hope the idea of free college sticks,” he said.
As Hanks ended his New York Times guest column, he reminisced about how community college had played a key role in his life.
“That place made me what I am today,” he said.