FAMU Day at TCC — a closer look

Albert Santiago, a student transfer specialist, waits at the entrance to greet incoming students.
Photo by Vynessah Dasher.

All of Florida A&M’s colleges and schools returned to Tallahassee Community College’s campus on Wednesday for FAMU Day at TCC. Each degree program was represented by a linen-covered table, coupled with orange and green accents that heightened the spirit of the occasion. The biannual event drew hundreds of prospective students to TCC’s student union building among them, Earion Reed, a Tallahassee Community College sophomore from Palm Beach County, who engaged in conversation with an eagerness to pursue higher education. 

“It took a lot for me to be up here — coming from the street life selling drugs, being on the corner, going to jail. I just wanted different for myself,” said Reed.

Like many nontraditional students, Reed didn’t have the support he needed to prosper in early education. His desire to succeed led him to seek guidance from TCC advisors. 

“They basically tell you what you need just to get you out of the way, they didn’t actually walk me through the steps,” Reed continued. 

Randolph Bellamy, FAMU’s assistant director of transfer student services, recommends that community college transfer students join IGNITE to assist in their transition. Bellamy says a lot of students in the IGNITE program didn’t meet the college’s requirements due to a low GPA and test scores coming out of high school; IGNITE is FAMU’s way of meeting the students where they are. 

Bellamy added that students who join the IGNITE program and maintain a 3.0 or higher will receive a transfer student scholarship once they graduate. 

“I can’t speak for TCC, but just from what I’ve seen, they do have tons of resources for students even if they fall in a nontraditional category. There’s really no reason a student should be unsuccessful at an institution,” said Bellamy. 

Elijah Noel, a TCC freshman and member of IGNITE, says that while the TCC advisors have been helpful, he is having doubts about his transfer process. As a senior in high school, Noel applied to FAMU and was not accepted. He later enrolled at TCC and joined the IGNITE program but says he was confused about the purpose of IGNITE. 

According to Noel, there is no campus presence or group setting to assist with his navigational needs. Despite the lack of communication he has received since joining IGNITE in the summer term, he believes there are opportunities at FAMU that he would be able to partake in, if only the coordinators reached out.  

“They sent my 4 roommates and I an email saying thank you for applying for IGNITE but didn’t breakdown what it really meant. The IGNITE program is just a title,” said Noel. 

Upon exit, Alicia Cohey, the mother of a TCC dual enrollment student, says she was pleased with FAMU Day but still has some concerns. Cohey claimed to be misinformed by the school about credit requirements, which resulted in the change of her daughter’s academic course.

“I do hope there is some better development as far as the engagement of the students and their goals as they move forward from this school,” said Cohey.

The top reason students don’t end up transferring is due to the lack of communication, information and overall lack of engagement according to John Tornes, a transfer student specialist at FAMU.

“Our job is to make the pathway a little more seamless once students start to engage. Students who complete the IGNITE program are offered guaranteed admission,” said Tornes.

He hopes having events such as FAMU Day help to bridge the gap of understanding for the prospective students of FAMU.