• 63°

ROGER WATSON COLUMN: Stanly is better for having SCC

From a training school in cosmetology to HVAC repair and a television broadcasting studio, Stanly Community College has developed a community of higher learning focused on preparing young adults for successful careers.

I was invited to get a behind-the scenes tour of Stanly County’s gem on the hill this past week from Michelle Peifer, the college’s director of marketing and communications. We toured around the buildings on the main campus. We walked through the facilities, visited some classrooms and spoke with the staff and students about the things they were learning.

Roger Watson

Although the buildings were mostly constructed in the 1970s, the programs inside definitely are not. We walked past a classroom that was teaching computer networking, another classroom had eight 3D printers.

In the Advanced Manufacturing and Industrial Technology building, students were learning to program a large metal cutting machine to make metal covers. Our tour didn’t even include the newest and most complex hospital simulation technology the college has at the Crutchfield Education Center in Locust.

The community college’s enrollment is up 7 percent over last year. It’s a number that President John Enamait is proud of but is also working to understand. With little change in the local economy, a 7 percent enrollment jump is substantial.

But with the rising cost of higher education and the plague of student loans, community colleges have become a practical precursor to a four-year degree. With a senior and a junior in high school, this is a conversation we are having more and more often in our household.

Stanly Community College serves as an excellent community resource not just for students, but for the citizens of the area as well. The library is open to all and the cosmetology program accepts appointments for hair styling at less than market prices.

The tour showed the great work the college is doing now, but it is also easy to see the potential for more growth in the future. As the county prepares for future job growth, the community college will be a key partner in preparing the workforce to drive our economic development to new levels.

Roger Watson is publisher of The Stanly News & Press.