Students and faculty react to Betsy DeVos visit

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Kim Harms

News editor

kharms3@jccc.edu

Betsy DeVos, U.S. Secretary of Education, visited the college yesterday to speak with students, faculty and staff about the variety of programs offered on campus. The college is one of the educational institutions she intended to visit on her Rethink School tour.

Students that spoke with DeVos shared their stories of why they chose to attend the college. Derek Benson, student engagement ambassador, said his speaking with DeVos brought a variety of emotions.

“I was a little nervous because I was speaking the Secretary of Education for the United States,” Benson said. “I felt like it was a really great experience because she holds so much power. [Devos] came over to each table and we introduced ourselves. We told our story of why we’re at [the college] and our majors.”

One of the stops on DeVos’ campus visit was the Healthcare Simulation Center (HSC), where she spoke with nursing professor, Kathy Carver. DeVos’ learned about the experience nursing students gain from working the HSC.

“My goal was to introduce her to what our learning experience was for our students and why we are doing what we are doing,” Carver said. “We really provide that experience for students that they can not get anywhere else, in the fact that they are the nurse. I wanted her to appreciate that we’re able to provide students that experience. That our students feel safe with their direct patient care and they speak up and not assume that everything is okay.”

Carver had wrapped up a long day of teaching not long before she spoke with DeVos. She was excited to show the environment her students work and learn in.

“I was nervous the day before, I became more nervous [the next morning],” Carver said. “We had an active simulation day, we had been there from 7 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. that day so we were running with our normal teaching process. We sat down about 10 minutes before she came and got everything ready. We gave her a visualization of what we have here on campus.”

Carver said she was surprised by the amount of media personnel covering DeVos’ visit. Media personnel filled the hallway of the HSC to almost full capacity.

“When the media walked in about three minutes before she walked in, they completely filled the whole hallway,” Carver said. “She couldn’t even see the [HSC] it was so full … that was something I hadn’t expected.”

DeVos’ final stop was the Hospitality and Culinary Academy where students, faculty and staff had the chance to speak with DeVos. Benson said the room was filled with a variety of people who shared their stories.

“Everyone there was invited, it was not an open event,” Benson said. “There was about 30 to 50 people there overall. There were 13 to 14 students invited, the rest were media and other employees of the college. I said to her, I’m going to [the college] because it is cheaper than a four-year school and the professors individualize the students with small classrooms.”

Click here for additional coverage of DeVos’ visit.

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