Sinclair Community College to confer first bachelor’s degrees today

Despite pandemic, record number of students earn certificates, degrees this academic year,

Among the record 6,333 Sinclair Community College students earning a certificate or degree this academic year, four going through commencement today are the first to be awarded bachelor’s degrees by any Ohio community college.

In 2019, Sinclair began offering Bachelor of Applied Science degrees in unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and aviation technology/professional pilot.

“I feel very honored to be a part of the first group of bachelor’s degree graduates and testing the waters for this new program,” said Centerville native Michael Sherbet, who will get his Aviation Technology/Professional Pilot diploma during a ceremony at UD Arena.

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“A lot of the airlines now require a four-year degree for you to be accepted and start the job as a career,” Sherbet said. “Now that you are able to get everything at Sinclair without having to transfer to a four-year institution to finish that up, (that) makes it very appealing.”

A state budget bill in 2017 allowed community and technical colleges to apply to offer bachelor’s degrees. The Ohio Department of Higher Education has now given final approval to nine applied bachelor’s degree programs at six community colleges, including two at Clark State College, which has programs in web design and development and manufacturing technology management.

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Clark State will confer its first six bachelor of applied science degrees in manufacturing technology management during a virtual commencement on May 15, according to a Clark State spokeswoman.

A love for video games drew Preston Moore of Huber Heights into Sinclair’s UAS bachelor’s degree program.

“Instead of just studying and trying to find it out for yourself, you are in the lab working on designing, 3-D printing, building, manufacturing, and fixing broken vehicles — just a plethora of hands-on learning to better prepare you for a career in Unmanned Aerial Systems,” Moore said.

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Moore, who utilizes his UAS skills as a Realtor to showcase properties, said the program was affordable and offered a schedule where he was able to balance family life and work.

Mugisha “Mo” Kamana of Kigali, Rwanda came to Sinclair Community College at the age of 17 with the dream of becoming a pilot because “Dayton is the birthplace of aviation.”

Kamana said the new degree track allowed him to stay on course to a career in aviation without uprooting again.

“When Sinclair got approved that I could finish my bachelor’s degree, it was my dream come true,” he said.

Despite the pandemic, Sinclair has achieved an all-time high number of students earning certificates and degrees this year, a 24% increase over last year and a 75% increase over the last decade, according to the school.

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“These tremendous accomplishments were achieved during a global health crisis that presented enormous challenges, but our students, faculty, and staff worked incredibly hard to overcome those hurdles and achieve success,” said Sinclair President Steven L. Johnson. “Sinclair remains committed to providing high-quality, affordable, and flexible education for our students to complete their degrees with the skills and training they need for in-demand careers that are aligned with the needs of the region’s employers.”

A record 53 students from 25 area high schools also earned associate degrees this academic year, a 12% increase over last year, according to Sinclair. Altogether, Sinclair offers nearly 300 accredited degree and certificate programs.

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Samuel Bryan of Beavercreek will be honored at Sinclair’s commencement today but won’t officially finish work on his UAS bachelor’s degree until this summer.

Bryan said the hands-on learning and the encouragement by Sinclair professors to keep researching inside and outside of class helps sparks creativity.

“The instructors want to discuss ideas with us so that they can help us turn a dream into reality,” he said. “We expand on stuff that may sound really crazy, but anything’s possible.”

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