Returning to school can be a daunting task but with the support of Kingsborough Community College’s continuing education office, the transition can be smoother than anticipated.
Spearheading that transition is Dean Christine Beckner, an employee of the college for more than two decades. Tackling her new position for a little over two years now, Beckner is continuing to build upon the foundation set by former Dean Saul W. Katz who served in that position for 17 years.
“I try to build on what Dean Saul W. Katz did. No major changes since I’ve taken on the role of the dean. I was working very closely with the dean for 17 years before he retired so it was really a smooth transition once the position became available,” she said.
What is somewhat new to Beckner’s table is working more closely with the Center for Economic and Workforce Development. Her focus is to help the students in the program also earn credits — what she refers to as stackable credits — while working towards earning certificates.
“We want to align the certificate courses with the degree programs so that, for example, the EMT program here at Kingsborough and Continuing Ed they can go ahead to a paramedic program and start that program with six credits,” she explained.
The continuing education office works closely with students, ranging in ages from 19 to 60 plus years old, who may have lost their jobs, are unemployed, underemployed or looking to obtain new skills to be more competitive in the workforce. The office offers many courses including information technology and healthcare.
One of the biggest programs offered is the six-hour New York City Taxi Preparation course — Kingsborough is one of four CUNY schools offering the program.
“It’s a very robust program. This is for taxi drivers who have already registered with TLC they will be sent out to take their training at the four taxi schools,” she explained.
Serving between 25-30,000 students each year, the continuing education program still opens its campus doors to children ages five to 13 years old. The “kiddy college” program involves both academic and non-academic work to begin the process of getting children ready for school.
“We try to not just make it fun for the kids but to also have some academics in there also,” she said.
Heading into 2016, Beckner hopes to align more programs with the stackable credits model so that students can work towards not only a certificate that will help them re-enter the workforce but ultimately towards obtaining a degree.