- Staff report
EPCC top college for Hispanics & #1 in granting degrees to Hispanic students for 16th Straight Year
For more than 50 years El Paso Community College (EPCC) has been committed to creating a quality academic experiences to better serve students and improve student outcomes.
Known as ‘The Best Place to Start & Finish’ the college is the first choice for thousands of first-time students as well as individuals looking to re-train or upskill. Faculty and staff are passionate about eliminating barriers and ensuring that students are able to complete their degrees.
This laser-focus on student success has paid off and once again, EPCC has once again been listed on the index of Top Community Colleges for Hispanics and has held the distinction of awarding the most degrees to Hispanic students for 16 years in a row. Announced in the February issue of the magazine, this distinction ranks EPCC as number one in the nation for granting associate degrees to Hispanic students by two-year schools.
EPCC President Dr. William Serrata is very proud of this distinction. From Hispanics to other traditionally underserved students, the college has been a key entry point to higher education that is increasing educational attainment in the community. By increasing access, offering programs that lead to careers with high mobility and helping students stay on their pathway, EPCC ensures that students fulfill their goal of graduation. “Students are the reason behind everything we do at EPCC,” Serrata said. “We want students to start and complete their degree so that they are on a trajectory of reaching their goals, whether it be getting the job they want or continuing their education.”
Having a college degree or certificate is becoming increasingly important. Not only do individuals who have gone to college earn more, the jobs of the future will require post-secondary credentials. But students can’t reap the benefits of a college education if they don’t graduate.
EPCC provides students with the support systems they need to navigate their college journey. “I chose EPCC because as a first-generation college student it was the best opportunity to obtain my degree and I knew I would be supported by people who are always willing to guide their students towards success,” EPCC student Alex Martinez said.
Other students echo similar sentiments. Olga Montoya says EPCC provided her an opportunity and experience she feels she couldn’t have gotten elsewhere to get her degree. “EPCC has given me an opportunity to start and finish at my own pace,” Montoya said. “I’ll be the first college graduate in my family, giving the example to my children that when you want something, you can do it.”
For many students, EPCC is a pathway to continuing their studies to a baccalaureate or higher degree. Chris Rodriguez came to EPCC not knowing what he wanted to do for his future career. He said the college helped him discover his passion for computer science and he plans to transfer and continue his studies at a four-year institution.
“I’m grateful to have had the experience I’ve had at EPCC with talented professors and peers alike,” Rodriguez said.
In the future, building opportunities for students’ success and ensuring even more students are able to graduate will be key to the vibrancy of our nation. At the local and national level, community colleges will become increasingly important as the country overcomes the coronavirus pandemic and adapts to a changing economic landscape.
EPCC understands that continuing to increase the number of graduates will be key to the post-pandemic recovery for both students and local communities. The college is prepared to help individuals who need to reskill and upskill in order to change or advance their careers. “I went to EPCC to change careers and pursue my passion,” said Kristin Lawson who completed her Associate of Applied Science last fall and plans a new career as a Physical Therapy Assistant.
The impact of these graduates is powerful and significant. EPCC will continue to prioritize teaching students the skills necessary for a fulfilling and prosperous career while responding to the workforce needs of regional business and industry.
As a result, local employers will gain the skilled workers required to make their businesses more productive. This has economic and social influence that strengthens the entire region. Looking to the future, EPCC will continue to be a driving force of upward mobility and community vitality.
The Hispanic Outlook on Education February issue can be viewed at https://www.hispanicoutlook.com/education-magazine/february-2021