FTC and its sister institutions work together to empower minds and to offer accessible education.
Sometimes in life, it takes a partner to help you accomplish your goal. Florida Technical College has a mission to make education accessible to students with busy lives, and its sister institutions in Puerto Rico — Instituto de Banca y Comercio (IBC), National University College (NUC) and Ponce Paramedical College (POPAC) — are helping it fulfill that mission.
“We are one big, tight-knit family,” said FTC President David Ruggieri. “Our students benefit from the wealth of information and expertise that we have in our very own education family. We collaborate with each other in everything we can for the bene t of our students.”
The colleges are part of the EduK Group, Inc., organized in 2004 in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico as the advisory entity for its member institutions. The post-secondary colleges have diverse course offerings, leading to certificate and diploma programs, associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The colleges’ combined experience in education and their stability and sustained growth have led them to an overall annual enrollment of more than 27,000 students.
“If you are from Puerto Rico, chances are you know one of our sisters,” Ruggieri said. “FTC is like the one sibling in the Sunshine State that just about every Puerto Rican family has.”
Before coming to FTC Kissimmee in 2011 to chair its barbering program, Pablo Rodriguez taught at Instituto de Banca y Comercio for seven years. The transition, he said, was seamless.
“Teaching here is very similar to teaching at Instituto de Banca,” Rodriguez said. “The curriculum has only a few small differences, mainly addressing Florida-specific legal matters.”
“The student culture in our Kissimmee campus is very similar, as well,” he added. “We love school events with food and music, as a majority of our students are of Hispanic heritage and those things are synonymous with celebration for us.”
Rodriguez stays in touch with his Puerto Rico colleagues and many of his students and frequently collaborates with them.
“I get asked a lot of questions about the requirements to practice in Florida,” he said.
Many of the courses taken at EduK institutions in the island transfer to Florida Technical College.
A WARM WELCOME FOR NEWCOMERS
Florida is the number one destination for Puerto Ricans leaving the island
who seek respite from the current fiscal crisis. There are now more than one million Boricuas in Florida (1,006,542 to be exact), with 1,000 families moving here every month, according to the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration.
“Many of our students are newcomers from Puerto Rico,” said Gabriel Garcés, executive director of FTC Kissimmee. “That’s indicative of the fact that we’re a true reflection of this community. We’re committed to making that transition into a new place, a new city, easier for our students.”
To help ease that transition, FTC offers classes in English, but the staff and many instructors are bilingual.
The son of Colombian immigrants, Garcés says he connects with students who have emigrated to the country because he knows firsthand what it’s like to start from zero.
“It’s never easy,” he said. “But giving up isn’t an option. Get educated, embrace a career path that fulfills you and allows you to provide for your family. Do those things and there will be no limit to what you can achieve.”
By Jeannette Rivera-Lyles