Promise Keeper

First ‘Ferrum Promise’ student graduates


Lindsey M. Foster, Editor

Claudia Cooke is the first student to graduate by way of the ‘Ferrum Promise’. (Photo by Lindsey M. Foster)

   A program that came to campus a few years ago is coming to fruition.

    “The Ferrum Promise” allows students who receive an associate’s degree in arts or sciences from a community college to transfer to Ferrum and graduate with a bachelor’s degree in four semesters/two years if they complete the required courses and hit each benchmark.

   The first student to go through the program is senior Claudia Cooke, who will walk the stage for her bachelor’s this spring.

   Cooke received her associate’s in General Studies with a specialization in Human Services from Patrick Henry Community College in December of 2019. 

   In August of 2020, Cooke enrolled and transferred here and is getting a Bachelor of Social Work degree with a major in Social Work.

   “I am very surprised to know that I was the first one to go through this program,” Cooke said. 

   Throughout her time at Ferrum, Cooke has participated in the Ferrum College Marching Band (color guard) her junior and senior year and was also part of the National Honor Society of Leadership and Success. 

   Moreover, she was also inducted into the Social Work Honor Society (Tau Rho Ferrum Chapter) in April of 2021. 

   “I am excited that she’s the first, but I hope that she is the first of many,” said Jason Powell, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, said. 

     The Ferrum Promise program is the brainchild of college President David Johns and previous Provost Aimé Sposato. 

   The two introduced the program to campus in November of 2019. 

   “I’d say there are about a dozen (students) in agreements (with the promise) right now,” Powell said.

   If the student does not complete their bachelor’s in those two years after transferring, the rest of their tuition is free.       

   “The ‘Ferrum Promise’ applies to all students who are enrolled full-time and meet certain academic requirements,” the college website says. 

   The Ferrum Promise program was created to prevent students (nearly 40 percent) from spending extra years to receive a bachelor’s degree due to their credits from their community college not adequately transferring.

   “This is not what they (transfers) expected, and it’s frustrating, time-consuming, and expensive,” Eric Grundman, Ferrum College’s Senior Enrollment Advisor, said. 

   Students at community colleges find out about the program mainly through their academic advisors. 

   To make this happen, Ferrum has partnered with two-year institutions to make education more affordable and accessible for students.

   “Our strongest partner in this is Virginia Western Community College,” Powell said. 

   There are many majors that go through the program, but some of the main disciplines are Agricultural Sciences, Business Administration, Criminal Justice, EcoTourism, Environmental Science, Recreational Leadership, and Social Work. 

   Other programs may also be eligible to go through the program, pending administrative approval.