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Mark Archibald, Daily Sun columnist

Early that August morning, she advised that I just be myself, speak up, and remember to say hello. The rest, she assured me, would come. As usual, my mother understood what I needed in order to be effective. She knew I was capable, and was hell-bent that I believe the same.

I’m a proud Saluki, but my college career wouldn’t have been nearly as successful had I not begun at the local community college. Like Navarro, Black Hawk College in Moline, Illinois was founded in 1946.

In spite of their accomplished professors and enthusiastic staffs, community colleges aren’t given the respect they rightly deserve. Mine was nicknamed Euchre U, a derisive moniker matching the card game sometimes played in the student lounge. The characterization is unfair, the institution isn’t responsible for the attitude of an individual.

My confidence grew as I engaged, I can’t thank Professor Joan Eastlund enough for combining democratic theory with sharp explanations of historical political practice. She was spot on when she compared politics to the daytime soaps. In recent years, one often needs to suspend disbelief in order to follow either current events or fiction.

Dr. Art Pitz adeptly used his talents as a story teller to bring history to life for the duration of his career. His seemingly effortless style would have made him an outstanding addition to any faculty. Thousands learned while laughing at his puns; I’m grateful he and his wife chose to raise a family in our community.

Smaller class sizes allow faculty to be more responsive to those having some difficulty. Taking advantage of office hours got me through some Math and all of my Spanish courses. Good teachers are dedicated to students who show effort, even if they may not have an aptitude for a particular subject. I almost certainly wouldn’t have gotten that extra time and instruction at the university level.

There were also clubs and student organizations which added to the experience. As a member of Broadcast Club, I met individuals who worked in every department, including Shipping and Receiving.

I’m glad I got to know Glenn. When there was a problem with an elevator, he made sure I arrived safely at my intended destination. After the Disability Accommodations Coordinator spent days asking for patience, I introduced myself to the Director of Facilities and the Dean of Students. It took some cajoling, but that mechanical issue was eventually and finally fixed.

Even though some disagreed, I was confident in my decision to confront the administration. Disability awareness is important, especially when a broken elevator blocks the route to the cafeteria.

While some debate the role of higher education, career prep and job training in our county, community colleges continue to meet all of those needs and more while adapting as communities evolve.

I offer both my thanks and congratulations to Black Hawk and Navarro College, which celebrate 75 years of serving students in 2021. In that time, they succeeded in becoming the sometimes-overlooked, but valuable gems within their communities.

Mark Archibald is a freelance reporter for the Corsicana Daily Sun. The Corsicana resident with Midwestern roots is also a political observer and sports fan. His opinion column 'On the Mark' runs Tuesdays.

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