SLCC chancellor speaks to Rotary

In only its second year, Crowley High School’s Interact Club reported at Tuesday’s Rotary Club of Crowley meeting great successes in growth and community involvement this year. The club also presented a donation to Rotary for the Polio Foundation. On hand for the presentation were, front row from left, Katie Monceaux, Petra Gamez, Rotary President-Elect Mary Zaunbrecher; back row, club sponsor Kalita Watson, Shawn Jackson, Dillon Corner and Rotarian Rev. James Proctor.

From left, program organizer Pat Miers and President-Elect of the Rotary Club of Crowley Mary Zaunbrecher welcomed SLCC Acadian-Campus Administrator Sheila Charles and SLCC Chancellor Natalie Harder to Tuesday’s noon meeting at the Town Club.

CHS Interact Club also attends, makes donation

In a state that has an ongoing conversation about the condition of higher education each year, Southwest Louisiana Community College is trying to make an undeniable stamp on the Louisiana’s hierarchy.

Enter Chancellor Natalie Harder who is pushing to make SLCC and invaluable part of Louisiana — and the country.

During her address to the Rotary Club of Crowley Tuesday, Harder pointed out how SLCC has and continues to play an important role in the economy, as are the nearly 1,200 community colleges in the U.S.

As the state moves toward a comprehensive community college formula, which would not only help fill the skills gap by adding workers specializing in trade fields, i.e. welders, software, etc., but serve as partners with universities and have transfer programs that allow you to start at the community college and transfer to a traditional four-year institution, SLCC is becoming even more a part of the higher education lexicon, boasting great partnerships with universities in the state.

Harder pointed out that community colleges are becoming more and more attractive options to students and families alike as they are relatively inexpensive — on average about a third of the cost of four-year institutions — and have become tickets to success.

Harder pointed to a 2011 survey that showed in Louisiana, earner’s of associate’s degrees were making more on average than those with bachelor’s degrees in the state and were more likely to be employed.

According to Harder, this is part of the Louisianians need to “have an honest conversation” about higher education.

Harder also brought forth a program that is currently in Lafayette Parish that she believes can work in all the SLCC areas.

The program, Early College Academy, sees 250 students enrolled as both high school students and college students at the same time and graduate as such at the same time, earning both a diploma and an associate’s degree in general education.

The program is a partnership between SLCC and the Lafayette Parish School System that pulls eighth graders who earn a “basic” or higher score on the LEAP test into a lottery system to fill the open slots each year.

Harder explained that it is a different experience, there are no football games, pep rallies, etc. The students are college students. They go to class from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The fall semester of their freshmen year, the students are taking mostly high school courses, but do take one college course. Those numbers decrease and increase, respectively, over the four years of the program.

Harder is also hoping to create a separate Technical Early College Academy which will have graduates with high school diplomas and college graduates with a specific trade.

The partnerships, however, see the local parish school systems footing the bill.

SLCC currently had an enrollment of about 10,000 students on its campuses. According to Harder, the Acadian Campus in Crowley now has an administrator in Sheila Charles that is committed to making the school more visible in the community. She added that the school needs instructors.

You can visit http://www.solacc.edu/ for more information.

The club also welcomed members of the Interact Club of Crowley High School to the meeting Tuesday. Club sponsor Kalita Watson and President Dillon Corner talked about the Interact Club’s growth and civic activities throughout the year. Corner also announced a donation to the Crowley Club for Rotary International’s Polio Foundation.

Jeannine LeJeune is the online editor for the Crowley Post-Signal. She can be reached at jeannine.lejeune@crowleytoday.com or 337-783-3450.

Acadia Parish Today

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