YOU MAY have heard recently that the Community College System of New Hampshire will offer a free class this fall to 2021 New Hampshire high school graduates at any of the state’s seven community colleges. It is a celebration of sorts; it’s a gift to a group of students who’ve had a particularly tough senior year, and it’s a reflection of the very positive reality that our system has come through the pandemic and is moving forward with momentum.

First stop: Manchester Community College graduation ceremony on May 25 at Northeast Delta Dental stadium. I’m excited to host my first in-person event as MCC president, since taking the job last year amidst the pandemic. We will also be celebrating our 75th commencement since MCC was founded in 1945 as a school for returning World War II veterans.

It’s natural to look back on this past year and reflect on the things that were lost during this difficult period, but that’s not really my style. I am a “look to the horizon” kind of person and I am really excited about what I see.

For New Hampshire students, there is an important new opportunity following the pandemic: as we move toward normal operations, anyone interested in college classes of any kind would be wise to take a good look at our campuses and offerings now because there are an unprecedented number of scholarships and grants available.

There are millions of dollars available to students in the wake of COVID-19. To spur job training, to attract people back to campus, and to provide a new opportunity to all those who seek a new start, MCC is positioned to offer an unprecedented level of financial assistance. In fact, more students than ever will attend MCC at minimal to no cost! This is an incredible opportunity.

And it seems people are ready. MCC’s summer class registrations are higher than they were pre-COVID. Registrations for the fall of 2021 are on pace to easily match the fall of 2019. We return to on-campus learning at 100% levels on Aug. 30. I, for one, cannot wait to see the students, faculty and staff again.

And when they return, students will find we have some exciting programs available. For example, MCC is offering a cybersecurity program to students; a field that is growing rapidly and requires a specific high-tech skill set you can get right here in Manchester.

MCC has also added onto its very successful automotive technology program with a logical expansion: power sports. Outdoor riding equipment is as popular as it has ever been, but let’s face it, you need someone to fix the machines when they break down. MCC is proud to be one of the first in the region to offer this program for those wishing to enhance their auto tech backgrounds and expand into something new.

In the meantime, we are working to expand partnerships in the health care field, with more enriched offerings connected to career paths at area hospitals, clinics and health care facilities of all kinds. The MCC Licensed Nurses Assistant (LNA) program through MCC’s Workforce Development Center continues to grow and we are excited to be working with Catholic Medical Center and Elliot Hospital to ensure our students have access to great training in the medical field.

Finally, this summer, MCC will host one of the largest gatherings of Manchester students since before the pandemic with our friends at GEAR UP. It’s a six-week program designed to showcase the many career pathways available at MCC for rising sophomore high school students. We want to ensure the next generation of leaders knows we are here to help.

Manchester Community College and the entire Community College System of New Hampshire are poised to surge ahead with educational excellence. Come see for yourself.

Brian Bicknell has been president of Manchester Community College since April 2020. He lives in Londonderry.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

THE MOST FAMOUS father in history only got third billing in the Holy Family. A few walk-ons in the Bible were the best that Joseph could manage. That is what fathers do. They are there for the family, not in the spotlight. They work hard and back up mothers everywhere as needed.

Friday, June 18, 2021

YET ANOTHER white supremacist — Newt Gingrich — has emerged to hector New Hampshire about what it should think about Critical Race Theory (CRT) and systemic racism by misappropriating MLK’s “… dream of a nation in which people are judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of …

Thursday, June 17, 2021

THE GENERAL COURT missed an opportunity this year to increase accountability for government officials in New Hampshire. Passing HB 111 would have ended qualified immunity, a court-created doctrine that shields government officials, including police officers, from legal accountability in civi…

THE BASEL CONVENTION is an international agreement barring countries from shipping various hazardous materials to another country without government permission. In 2019, plastic was added to the list. Of the 187 countries participating, only two have yet to ratify — Haiti and the world’s big…

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

AMERICA HAS always been at the forefront of innovation, and we cannot afford to lose that edge. We need to act decisively to outcompete China, boost domestic research and manufacturing, and secure supply chains that are critical to our national security and economy.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Monday, June 14, 2021

AS WE EMERGE from our pandemic mindset there is talk of our country enjoying life and pleasure akin to the roaring 1920s, but we should not miss some of the recent blinking red warning signs that could make the future look something closer to the dark ages.

IF YOU’VE had trouble paying for prescription medicine for yourself or family members — regardless if you are insured or not — you aren’t alone. Americans pay three times more for medications than people in other countries. As the cost of lifesaving medications like insulin skyrocket, Granit…

Sunday, June 13, 2021