President of EPCC, William Serrata, pH.D, spoke on a panel called “Educating the Next Generation” with UTEP President, Heather Wilson, and New Mexico State University President, John Floros.
During the panel, Serrata spoke about early colleges, the value of an education at EPCC, and EPCC’s new focus on Career and Technical Education programs.
Photo courtesy Aurora Borunda
President of EPCC, William Serrata, pH.D., pictured with Mission Early College High School and Northwest Early College High School students at the "Future of the Border Region" forum hosted by the Texas Tribune.
The panel took place on February 20, as a series of forums titled “The Future of the Border Region” put on by the Texas Tribune.
The discussion started with questions about whether these institutions were doing enough for students and Serrata explained that EPCC has been overperforming compared to other Texas community colleges but that EPCC could be doing better.
Serrata went on to explain that the cost of college which has sparked the narrative that “college isn’t for everyone,” should be looked at as an investment rather than a downside because college will eventually pay you back.
Serrata continued, saying that the value of college is evident.
EPCC ranks sixth in student’s social mobility, and that EPCC is providing opportunity to a student population that’s over 70 percent first generation.
First generation meaning the first in the family to attend a higher education institution.
Wilson then spoke about how the selectiveness of certain universities like UT Austin is actually leaving behind talent, and that is why UTEP is dedicated to accepting all prospective students, citing test scores as a bad measurement of a student’s abilities.
Serrata added that EPCC is an open admissions campus, and that students around Texas being left behind by selective universities will find a home at community colleges.
Open admissions policies are a non-competitive process of acceptance where the only requirement to get in is
a high school diploma or a general education development, GED, certificate.
The discussion shifted to CTE programs. Serrata explained that EPCC is aiming to have 30 percent of its courses be for technical education.
CTE programs would include nursing.
Technical education in the trades is often times a cheaper and faster path to a good paying career.
This is what Serrata explained as EPCC providing students a finish line.
Also stating that community colleges are faster at adapting to new business readiness needs, thus being better equipped to prepare students.
When Smith asked Serrata if community colleges were enough for students, Serrata responded that EPCC is faster moving than other institutions, and EPCC is usually waiting on the business world to catch up.
Serrata also touched on EPCC’s Early College High School programs.
Serrata stated the EPCC is in partnership with 17 ECHS programs, not including schools offering dual credit programs, and has 6 more ECHS programs in development.
When asked about the success of these ECHS programs, Seratta stated, “73 percent of our early college high school students receive their Associate’s degrees before they graduate from high school.
The national average is 25 percent, the state average is 30 percent, so El Paso, Texas is two and a half times the state average.”
The first ECHS in the region was Mission Early College High School connected to Mission Del Paso campus, which opened in 2005.
Since its opening, Mission has received two National Blue Ribbon Awards.