Unlimited Potential: Uplifting the community with President Haile

Michael Gennaro

North Bureau Chief


A college education is the easiest way for a person to achieve upward social mobility. A popular study at Georgetown University showed that college graduates, on average, earn $1 million more in their lifetime than those with only a high school diploma.

Even with this data in hand, many people’s educations stop after they graduate high school. Even with cheaper tuition, the federal Pell grant and other assistance programs, many people in underserved communities still see college as an impossibility.

Broward College President Gregory Haile wants to change that mindset.

Broward College has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with many local cities and organizations to bring Broward College to the doorstep of some of Broward County’s poorest communities. The new movement has been christened “Broward UP.” (Unlimited Potential)

“A lot of our students have a lot of challenges when it comes to getting to us,” Pres. Haile said.  “Whether it be transportation or security, or things going on at home that make it hard.”

Geraldine Klonarides, an economics professor at Broward College, elaborated on the specific ways Broward UP brings Broward College to the community.

“We have our traditional campuses. Instead of you having to drive to Central Campus or North Campus, what is the nearest community center to you? The library. Go take a class at that library. If you can get yourself to that library, because it’s in your neighborhood, it’s much closer than driving maybe 15 or 20 minutes.”

“The plan is to host classes at county libraries and the Jack and Jill Center. We’re also going to offer classes at The Boys and Girls club of the city of Lauderhill,” Klonarides said.

Broward College hopes that bringing classes to these underserved communities will result in economic development and social mobility that may not have occurred otherwise.

“One of the fundamental components of this is not simply going to communities and saying, ‘You can get here.’ It’s about bringing post-secondary education to those communities and relieving individual residents of those communities of the barriers that exist,” Pres. Haile said.

“We’re close to a half-dozen MOUs with different cities now. Lauderhill, Lauderdale Lakes, West Park, Hollywood and others. With all these arrangements, we are now bringing classes into those communities,” Pres. Haile said.

The newest MOU was approved by the City of Hollywood Commission on July 3. In addition to classes and workshops, a press release stated that Broward College will be providing the City of Hollywood with certificate training and other programs at sites throughout Hollywood’s poorest neighborhoods.

In a press release, Hollywood mayor Josh Levy praised Broward UP as a way for residents to get the training and education they need to live more fulfilling lives.

“This is an important first step toward bridging the postsecondary education gap in Hollywood, which should, in turn, help close the economic gap that exists for some residents. By making certification training, career-readiness courses, and entrepreneurial programming more readily accessible through Broward UP, Hollywood residents should find an easier path with fewer barriers that could otherwise prevent them from realizing their dreams,” Levy said.

Pres. Haile knows all about those barriers firsthand. He grew up in South Jamaica Queens, New York, during the height of the crack epidemic that ravaged the country in the 1980s and 1990s.

He didn’t hear the word “college” until the third grade, when he was attending a school out of his neighborhood that he had to be bused to. Until then, college was a completely foreign concept to him.

“That should never be how anyone is introduced to the concept of college,” Pres. Haile said.

“We have to own this. As a post-secondary institution, we all have some ownership.”

Taking ownership is what Pres. Haile does best. Since 2007, he has been recognized with nearly 2 dozen awards for his work in the community. With Broward UP, Pres. Haile looks to keep that momentum going indefinitely.


Email: gennm2@mail.broward.edu

Photo Caption: BC President Gregory Haile speaks to The Observer about “Broward UP” ….. Daniela Jaramillo/The Observer

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