A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Fernando Figueroa: Gateway means to work as a gardener, cultivating hope, talent in our community

We are starting a new year full of promise and potential. This month my wife, Debbie, and our fur babies, Pippin and Arwen, will join me in Northern Kentucky to start our new life here together.

Many students will begin college for the first time this week. Perhaps, they are even the first in their families to seek a college degree.

Gateway will offer new certificates in areas that will develop skills needed by industry for jobs that stimulate our economy and provide families more financial security.

We will also seek and activate new partnerships with our community.

In 2017, I would like to see Gateway establish a reputation as a gardener working with others to cultivate hope, resilience and talent in our community. This is an abstract resolution that requires very concrete actions.

Regardless of how you feel about new year’s resolutions, they are useful to help us identify what is really important to us and to drive specific actions that can change our lives. We all need some form of direction (resolve) in order to accomplish anything. Life and business strategist Tony Robbins says, “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”

Fernando Figueroa

Fernando Figueroa

We have determined what is important to us and rolled out Gateway’s six-year strategic plan when KCTCS System President Dr. Jay Box visited in December. The five goals of our plan are to

1 Strategically position Gateway Community and Technical College within the comprehensive educational landscape of the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati Region.
2 Develop innovative opportunities for flexible, affordable, and personalized learning.
3 Cultivate an experiential, collaborative and supportive learning environment that pursues diversity, thrives on innovation, and contributes to a connected community.
4 Develop customizable and fluid educational pathways that are relevant and responsive to the dynamic needs of the region.
5 Strengthen long-term institutional growth and stability.

Our next step is to implement specific actions over the next six years that will empower us to reach our goals. Each division and department in the college is contributing to those next steps in their annual plans. Our students, too, are setting goals and action plans.

I’m pleased to say that actions toward these goals have already begun and will be visible this semester with our welding program offering six new welding certifications. We are also expanding our CDL program and collaborating with the community to offer classes in historic restoration, making the old new again. Our staff and faculty are reaching out to high schools, career centers and the community at large to increase awareness of opportunities at Gateway that lead to great careers.

As the year goes on, I will be sharing more details of the specific actions we are taking toward our goals to make the invisible, visible. I look forward to sharing those with you.

I’d love to hear from you, your personal resolutions, successes and suggestions as we cultivate hope, resilience and talent in 2017.

Fernando Figueroa is president of Gateway Community & Technical College.

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