“The model that you have here is something that I want to see replicated many different places. The Veterans Resource Center, I want to see more there. I love what I heard about STEM, and I love how this is the school being responsive to the changing environment here in Austin. Kudos to you (and) to the board for recognizing that we have to adapt to the needs of our students and to the needs of the community.” – U.S. Secretary of Education, Dr. Miguel Cardona

U.S. Secretary of Education, Dr. Miguel Cardona, says what’s happening at ACC is a model that should be replicated at institutions across the nation. 

Secretary Cardona toured ACC Highland Campus on Wednesday, March 9, and met with students, faculty, Board of Trustees, and administrators to learn more about how ACC is reimagining higher education through its unique learning environments and programs. He also hosted several discussions with students to honor Women’s History Month and explore opportunities to elevate women in historically male-dominated fields. 

A feature of his visit included a roundtable discussion with ACC Chancellor, Dr. Richard Rhodes, and faculty and female students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs at ACC, in the IMPACT Lab, the college’s manufacturing incubator.

The students shared their experiences at ACC and their inspiration for pursuing a career in STEM. Each student credited the support of their professors and the resources available at the college to provide them with hands-on experiential learning.

“You’re really representing opportunities for these students,” said Secretary Cardona. “Post pandemic we have to do more. So, continue to lead and innovate that way and serve as an example to the students. [I’m] really, really proud of all of you and your stories, [and I’m] very inspired by everything.”

During his visit, Secretary Cardona also toured the ACC Highland Veterans Resource Center for a discussion. They talked about the support students receive through the Center and the challenges veterans face in their transition to civilian life.

“When you say [that when you first left the military] you didn’t know what to do, that’s an issue. We should be taking care of our veterans before they leave so that they can [smoothly] transition out. So, I’m wondering, how do we use the recruiting model that the military uses to enlist [veterans] into 2-years, 4-years [once they] leave the military. You’ve given me homework. I love it.”

Secretary Cardona also walked the college’s Fashion Incubator to learn about collaborations happening between the college and business and industry as well as ACC’s Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Campus (TRHT) Center.

At the TRHT, Secretary Cardona discussed the value and importance of the TRHT and other student support programs at the college including BRASS (Black Representation of Achievement through Student Support) and Ascender.

“This is about community development. You embrace that in a way where you create centers where students go well. You have innovation hubs that are responsible for the city’s needs. You have programs to make sure that veterans complete school. So, this is a really, really welcoming community for learners. It’s an asset in the community and, in my opinion, when we talk about celebrating Women’s History, it sounds nice, but when you have programs like you have here, where you hire and you nurture and you elevate instructors that are great examples to all students, both women, and men, you’re walking the walk.”

See photos from his visit in the slideshow below.