Hillsborough Community College (HCC) President Ken Atwater, Ph.D., recently hosted a luncheon with Florida A&M University (FAMU) President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., in downtown Tampa to unveil a new partnership that will provide scholarships and other incentives for HCC students, who earn an Associate of Arts degree and transfer to FAMU. The agreement marks the 16th partnership FAMU has signed with community and state colleges in Florida.
Clergy from the Tampa area, FAMU alumni, administrators and staff from both state institutions met for an in-depth overview of FAMU’s Ignite Transfer Program. The program provides curriculum pathways to help Florida state and community college students earn a bachelor’s degree within four years.
FAMU and HCC signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) known as a 2+2 articulation agreement. It creates curriculum pathways for HCC students to complete core classes during their first two years of college and then transfer to FAMU. While they can pursue a bachelor’s degree in a number of FAMU’s 54 undergraduate programs, the partnership will initially create a bridge for agriculture, business administration, education, environmental science and pharmacy majors.
President Robinson applauded Dr. Atwater and his team’s enthusiasm and FAMU Student Affairs Vice President William Hudson, Jr. and his staff’s efforts to make the collaboration a success.
“Dr. Atwater invited a group of ministers who play a big role in helping students get to HCC or FAMU,” said Robinson. “The bottom line is some young people are going to have a wonderful experience coming to FAMU and going out into the world and making a difference as a result of this partnership between Hillsborough Community College and Florida A&M University.”
“Tying the Ignite program into the community is going to be a wonderful advantage for all of us,” Robinson continued.
President Atwater was heartened by the community support.
“It was refreshing and reassuring to see so many supporters of HCC in attendance for the launch of a partnership that will make a difference in the lives of Hillsborough students and the state of Florida,” he said.
Ken Ray, Ph.D., Hillsborough Community College’s vice president of Student Services and Enrollment Management, said the launch was a great event and the start of bigger plans for community engagement.
“We had about 30 pastors here, and I think they left enlightened about the program and encouraged to go back and talk to their members and people in the community about the Ignite program and the opportunity that students are going to have to attend HCC and then Florida A&M University,” said Ray. “The main thing is for students to learn very early on when they get to college is understanding the pathway to get a bachelor’s degree and higher.”
Pastor Jomo Cousins of Love First Christian Center attended the luncheon and said he is “really excited about the Ignite program.” Cousins and his wife are FAMU alumni.
“I have a lot of members of my church go to HCC and want to go to FAMU and some who wanted to go to FAMU initially but didn’t quite make it,” said Cousins. “So, I believe it’s a great off ramp for people to succeed. I’m really happy about the partnership because I know for a lot of young people this will be a great way to seamlessly merge two programs together.”
During the luncheon, FAMU Education student Amari Jones, who earned her associate’s degree from HCC in 2018, gave an impromptu speech about her experience as a transfer student.
“I decided to go to FAMU because both of my older sisters went there and graduated, and FAMU has an amazing College of Education program, and I knew that I was going to be a part of this great FAMUly that they have,” said Jones, who attended the luncheon as a guest of her father, Thomas Jones, who is a pastor.
FAMU has established articulation agreements with state colleges and community colleges as the University strives to attract more students who will graduate in four years.
“This collaboration will assist FAMU in achieving its performance funding metric and strategic plan goals to increase access and graduation rates of FCS students graduating with the AA degree,” Hudson said. “FAMU has a history of preparing students for the global economy and this partnership adds to the legacy.”
For additional information about the FAMU Ignite Transfer Program and HCC partnership, visit www.famu.edu/transferservices.