Who is he?
- Name: Patrick McGinty
- Education: Northeastern University (Boston), Journalism
- Position: Assistant Director, International Student Services and Recruitment
- Employer: Delaware County Community College
- City: Media, PA, USA
Patrick the traveler
Growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Patrick McGinty is a man of broad tastes. This lover of music, movies, and art was also an avid basketball and tennis player. Spending his summers at the Jersey Shore, Patrick also loved to travel. As a young man he has been to more places than most people go in their lifetimes — first to Australia for study abroad, and later, Canada, all through Asia and Europe, and five countries in South America.
Originally, Patrick was a student of journalism. He viewed it as a means to synthesize his diverse interests in variety of creative forms. He was inspired by the concept of the journalist as a defender of social justice. But his experience studying abroad in Australia had such a strong influence on him that he ended up walking down a different road. To this day he is extremely grateful to his alma mater, Northeastern University in Boston, for giving him the opportunity to study in Australia. It was a critical juncture in his life. He ended up teaching English in Prague, the Czech Republic for 10 months, and then seeking employment close to home, where he noticed the position available at Delaware County Community College.
Within just 2 weeks of returning home, he got the job. A month later he was shipped off on his first student recruitment missions in Taiwan and Japan. Patrick got the exciting life he had wanted at a place few would think of, while sharing this unique perspective with students who come from far and wide.
Patrick the counselor
At Delaware County Community College, when Patrick isn’t traveling far and wide to explain to students worldwide why community college might be the right choice for them to kickstart their higher education, he’s providing counseling and orientation services to international students on campus. From 9am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday, Patrick and the director of International Student Services hold open door office hours, allowing international students to come in at their convenience for advisement on any kind of question whatsoever. Their goal is to solve the international students’ problems, and if they can’t, direct them to where they can be solved.
The International Student Services office covers the gamut of international students’ needs. The director Lydia offers academic advising and help with immigration-related issues, the housing coordinator Candy helps students with their living arrangements, and Patrick assists with these as well as developing the orientation program. In the pre-admission phase, Patrick and the office recruit the international students and reach out to students’ families. They then help the students through the entire admission and orientation process as well as through every aspect of their lives once they are admitted and here in the US. In short, international students are not alone at DCCC and within a short time of getting here are well-prepared to utilize the resources of the college and region, including the transportation system.
Patrick and the ESL program
Having been a journalism major, Patrick is intimately familiar with the need for clarity of communication. About five years ago, Patrick realized that the ESL program at DCCC needed a stronger, clearer representation to international students. Working with a diverse range of people including a Chinese professor of psychology, a Thai ESL professor, and an IT professor, they collected data from students and other stakeholders to develop a series of webpages on the DCCC website that welcomed international students to the college’s ESL program and explains what it is and how it works, as well as acting as a kind of all-encompassing information hub introducing international students to college life in the US. International students need to know, for instance, that class participation is expected in the US, and often even graded just like a test. The website explains this as well as containing many other resources, such as practice tests, databases, and information on fighting culture shock, etc. It is now an indispensable tool for these students to navigate the system.
Two things distinguish the ESL program at DCCC. The first is the personalized way in which students are placed into ESL classes. Rather than having to waste time relearning aspects of English that students are already proficient in, the classes are split up into the individual skills of English, and are placed only into classes for which the student still needs work. Students can test out of ESL classes for which they have already gained the necessary skills. The second is its integration with regular academic coursework. If an international student has room in their schedule for credit courses and wants to start taking them, they can receive advising on whether or not that they’ll be able to succeed in that class given what ESL proficiency they have gained so far. Most international students end up starting with at least one ESL course, but ESL will in short time begin to merge with their academic programs.
ESL is an important component in the education of international students, as the students’ proficiency in English upon arrival is often not enough to do as well as they could do in US colleges. Getting into a good college and doing well there are two different things, and ambitious students will want to protect against the risk of a major language barrier preventing them from succeeding to their fullest potential. Not all colleges offer an ESL program, so for students wanting to go to schools that lack one, going to a community college like DCCC first is a wise choice. For students who make this choice through DCCC, Patrick and his team will be there every step of the way.