ACC student invited as Dr. Jill Biden’s guest at State of the Union

When Jenny Bragdon walked into her first class at Austin Community College in spring 2015 she was nervous but excited. It had been more than 20 years since Bragdon sat in a class. She knew it wouldn’t be easy, especially math, but Bragdon found a pathway to success through ACC’s ACCelerator math class, MATD 0421.

She captured the attention of Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden along the way.  On Tuesday, January 12, Bragdon attended the State of the Union address in Washington, D.C., as Dr. Biden’s special guest. Bragdon Still

Watch video of Jenny’s experience.

“I teach a lot of developmental students and a lot of returning students,” says Dr. Biden. “The one stumbling block seems to be math and math anxiety. Jenny’s story is one thousands can relate to and learn from.”

Dr. Biden met Bragdon during a visit to ACC in March 2015.

While touring the Highland Campus ACCelerator, a 604-station computer lab in which students have access to instructors, tutors, and academic coaches, Dr. Biden saw firsthand how the college’s new developmental math course helps students like Bragdon succeed.

The course allows students to reach college-level math in a self-paced, highly supported environment.

“This class shifted my entire outlook,” says Bradgon. “It changed the way I look at math. It’s really fun. Now I want to become a math teacher. I know I can help other students overcome their own struggles and find success.”

“The ACCelerator and innovative courses like ACCelerator math are what community colleges are all about. They have the flexibility to adapt and meet students’ needs,” says Dr. Biden. “I hope other community colleges come and see this and then adopt it on their own campuses.”

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The ACCelerator developmental math course has seen promising results. In fall 2014, about 80 percent of students received a passing grade of A, B, or C, compared with 47 percent of students in traditional developmental math courses. Further, preliminary data indicate that MATD 0421 students are less likely to withdraw from the course than those in traditional developmental math courses (10 percent versus 22 percent).

“We’re honored that others, including Dr. Biden, are taking note of ACC’s innovations,” says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC president and CEO. “Student success is central to our mission. We are honored to be cited as an example for others.”

The State of the Union address is available to view online at

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