Alice Off-Campus Center Opens to Offer Programs As Pipeline Toward Degrees and Workforce Entry

Article by: Mike Bratten

Del Mar College celebrated the opening of the Alice Off-Campus Center on May 2 with an open house and ribbon cutting by the Alice Chamber of Commerce. 

Guests at the event included Alice Mayor Ike Ornelas, Jim Wells County Judge Pete Trevino, Larry Demieville, deputy director of Workforce Solutions of the Coastal Bend, members of the Alice Chamber of Commerce and others.

The facility, formerly a National Guard armory, is possible due to a $2 million Adult Education and Literacy grant awarded to DMC in 2014 by the Texas Workforce Commission. With the grant, DMC is expanding needed educational programs in an 11-county region of the Coastal Bend, including Jim Wells, Duval and Nueces counties. 

These programs – General Education Development (GED), English as a Second Language (ESL) and Adult Basic Education (ABE) programs – are offered free of charge. 

“Del Mar’s goal region-wide is to enroll and retain over 2,200 students in the GED, ESL and ABE programs annually and to create a pipeline for those students to enter the workforce, pursue an associate’s degree or both,” said Dr. Beth Lewis, DMC provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

The programs are an answer to the White House’s challenge to community colleges, called the 21st Century Initiative Challenge. That challenge, from former President Barack Obama, stated that by 2020, community colleges would educate an additional five million students with degrees, certificates and other credentials.

The facility includes abundant classroom space, 40 new computers and other technology for learning.

Besides Nueces County, Alice is Del Mar’s second biggest location providing services related to adult education. Ninety students registered in January for classes at the Alice Off-Campus Center, which are held Monday through Thursday. 

“This facility is a place of hope, where adults of any age can receive quality educational opportunities and expand their horizons without fear of being judged,” Dr. Lewis said.

In addition to adult education programs, Del Mar is offering a mini Career Pathways program at the Alice facility that includes two courses sanctioned by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration: OSHA 10 and OSHA 30. These courses are often a first step toward employment because they lead to nationally recognized safety certifications that are sought by Coastal Bend employers – particularly those in the oil and gas industry.

“I can tell you from a first-hand perspective that the educational opportunities, resources and training that Del Mar College offers here in Alice are a good investment,” said Marisa Yvette Utley, consultant for the South Texas Economic Development Alliance representing Raven Petroleum, LLC. “Raven sees Del Mar College as a potential partner for workforce training in the future.”

Raven Petroleum will soon begin construction on a refinery in Duval County, Utley added. The company estimates it will create 350 permanent jobs with an average wage of $32 per hour, she said. 

The Career Pathways program will be expanded at the Center in the future to include courses that prepare students for careers in healthcare, noted Dr. Leonard Rivera, DMC dean of Continuing Education and Off-Campus Programs.

Learn more about Del Mar College's Adult Education and Literacy programs by calling 361-698-1748 or 1-800-652-3357or visit their web pages at www.delmar.edu/ged/.

IN THE PHOTO: Alice Mayor Ike Ornelas (center, left) joined Dr. Leonard Rivera, DMC dean of Continuing Education and Off-Campus Programs, to cut the ribbon celebrating the opening of the Alice Off-Campus Center on May 2, along with representatives from the City of Alice, Del Mar College and area businesses and industry.  

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