For the first time, Florida Keys Community College has students working on bachelor’s degrees.
A year after winning approval from the state Board of Education and one month after its regional accrediting body signed off on it, FKCC launched its four-year degree program Jan. 9 with a class of 20 students, offering a bachelor’s in applied science in supervision and management.
“We plan to welcome more in session B classes that begin March 1,” said Amber Ernst-Leonard, FKCC’s public relations and marketing director. “Seventy-five percent are full-time compared to about 31 percent of the rest of FKCC students, which reflects the commitment of these students who are also working full-time.”
The new higher degree coincides with the college’s rebranding campaign, which will include a name change to College of the Florida Keys to mark what school officials call a new era.
Baccalaureate-level credits are $128.50 per credit for in-state students and $592.60 per credit for out-of state. The program is available only at the Key West campus for now, Ernst-Leonard said.
Offering the higher degree of education means more than a larger enrollment for the community college, said FKCC President Jonathan Gueverra.
“The real question is not why FKCC would add a baccalaureate degree, but what mechanisms are available to allow a resident of the Keys to earn a bachelor degree without leaving the Keys?” said Gueverra, who since his arrival in 2012 said the college could use a four-year degree.
“Today we talk about food deserts, where in the 21st century there are commonplace amenities and services that are just not available to some communities,” Gueverra said. “In Monroe County, when you get to the associate degree and until now, we lived in a higher-education desert.”
Gueverra said the BA students he has met are grateful for the opportunity. “This is about building up our community for longer term educational, economic and social viability,” Gueverra said.
Subjects include international business, leadership and management, human resource management, entrepreneurial management and financial management. The idea is to produce chief executives, financial managers, marketing specialists and other related careers, according to the program’s online brochure.
Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen