Chatfield College’s 2012 graduation ceremony didn’t look like typical graduations. Graduates included a father and son who walked together, students who once considered themselves homeless and single parents.
At Chatfield College
, based in St. Martin and Over the Rhine, non-traditional is the norm. With a mission to serve the underserved population in the Southwest Ohio region, Chatfield’s Over the Rhine branch at Findlay Market currently serves 335 students; the St. Martin branch serves 230.
John Tafaro, president of Chatfield, wants people who inhabit the underserved realms in the world of higher education to find people who will help them succeed academically, regardless of their life circumstances.
“College education is within reach,” says Tafaro. “There are often obstacles but we will help students overcome them. We will help them get there and stay there.”
Chatfield staff does just that.
Tafaro says that Chatfield differs from other two-year colleges because of the individualized attention that students receive. Each class has an average of seven to 10 students; and the staff of 36 and faculty of 85 work together to make sure their students graduate.
In addition to individualized attention in the classroom, students are provided with resources like financial counseling and free tutoring.
?“A lot of students come with no experience in banking,” says Tafaro. “We encourage them to establish a relationship with their banks and to set up a debit card. We provide them with a free debit card and checking account.”
The staff also encourages students to create relationships with members in their communities. Many of them are involved with community outreach and campus ministry programs.
This summer, staff and students at Chatfield’s Findlay Market branch, in partnership with Findlay Market, organized a freedom concert during the summer 2012 World Choir games.
And because many who attend Chatfield are single mothers, the college provides childcare services. Tafaro says that some of the most inspiring students are the single mothers because of their determination to succeed in the face of challenges.
“They’ve overcome so much by making the decision to come to school,” he says. “It sets a great example for their kids and for other single mothers.”
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By Jen Saltsman