'Learn4ward' to a Michigan degree

October 24, 2022

A new partnership between Henry Ford College and UM-Dearborn takes the guesswork out of transferring to earn a four-year degree and helps alleviate concerns over college acceptance, transfer credits and tuition costs.

Photo of the speakers at the 'Learn4ward' event
Credit: Michigan Photography

When thinking about transferring from a two-year college to a four-year institution, students say there are three main concerns: Getting accepted, transferring credits and tuition costs.

A new partnership between Henry Ford College (HFC) and UM-Dearborn — Learn4ward to a Michigan Degree — takes the guesswork out of transferring and alleviates these concerns. “Knowing there is a program that can give you all three of these things and guarantee the first two is huge,” said Alayna Kondraciuk, a second-year HFC student studying supply chain management. 

Learn4ward, which officially launched during an event at UM-Dearborn’s campus on Monday, guides Henry Ford College students toward a UM-Dearborn bachelor’s degree through enhanced academic advising, scholarship opportunities, career-ready resources and more.

Here’s how it works: Students will begin their educational and career journey by enrolling at HFC. They will receive guaranteed admission to UM-Dearborn based on their GPA (minimum 2.75) and/or transfer credits earned. A minimum of 60 credit hours will transfer from HFC to UM-Dearborn and Learn4ward students will enter UM-Dearborn as a junior.

“When my classmates and I heard about the program, we were both shocked and excited — we didn’t know a program like this was possible,” said Kondraciuk, who spoke at the Monday event. “Learn4ward will essentially map out our higher education and prepare us for a bright and successful future.”

For 60-plus years, Chancellor Domenico Grasso said UM-Dearborn and Henry Ford College have provided the southeastern Michigan community with knowledge and skills needed for top-level careers. So it’s fitting that these two institutions leaders — HFC President Russell Kavalhuna and Grasso — are working together to help the state of Michigan reach its goal of creating a stronger economy by increasing the number of working-age adults with a skill certificate or college degree from 45% to 60% by 2030.

“Learn4ward is good for students and good for Michigan’s economy,” Grasso said. “Henry Ford College and UM-Dearborn have a deep history in partnering in ways to best support students of southeast Michigan. By providing additional wraparound support and a seamless, laser-focused path to a Michigan degree, we are preparing students to graduate on time into good-paying jobs while supporting our state’s vital workforce goals and for many students, helping to change the trajectory of their lives.”

City of Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud, who previously served in the Michigan House of Representatives, said both institutions changed the trajectory of his life and helped him get to where he is today. He looks forward to seeing the effects of the partnership.

“The barriers you are moving today will impact thousands. Thousands who never had the means of affording college application fees, thousands who don’t have someone in their household that can help navigate college, thousands who want to continue their education beyond two years but aren’t sure of the pathway on how to do it. I’m grateful and proud, as an alumnus of both institutions, to see this happening in the City of Dearborn.”

In addition to Hammoud, dignitaries attending the launch included Sen. Sylvia Santana (D-3), Sandy Baruah from the Detroit Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Bill Bazzi from Dearborn Heights and others. But even with the political power in the room, everyone was united in knowing the most important audience for the Learn4ward program: the students.

First-year HFC student Zena Sattar, who is studying biology, said she is a first generation Arab American and her younger siblings and others look to her for answers. But a question she was having difficulty answering for herself was: “What’s next?”

“When it comes to transferring, I didn’t know what to do. Hearing about this program, I was ecstatic. This kind of opportunity removes all of the questioning,” Sattar said. “We have brilliant, amazing students at Henry Ford College who love this state and plan on working and prospering here. This program is amazing for us.”

Learn4ward is an important part of Destination Dearborn, UM-Dearborn’s overarching initiative for transfer students from two-year colleges that provides enhanced academic advising, increased financial aid, career-ready resources and more.

UM-Dearborn Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Melissa Stone said the university will continue developing ways to support highly qualified, talented and motivated transfer students to succeed in reaching their goals.

“Two-year college can help students make sure they have the foundational skills needed to succeed at UM-Dearborn and beyond,” Stone said. “We want to remove obstacles and guide these students from the beginning so that they take the right classes early for their chosen major. We want students to land their dream jobs.”

Text by Sarah Tuxbury.