Deja Ventura couldn’t be more excited about the January opening of Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch in Wesley Chapel.
The new campus — PHCC’s fifth — will make life much easier for Ventura, a student at the college.
“I can’t wait,” she said.
Ventura and others attended an information session last week in a conference room at Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel. There, faculty and administration for the new campus gave the crowd a virtual tour of the new facility, and shared their aspirations for the quality of education it will bring to its students.
Having a campus in Wesley Chapel will reduce Ventura’s commuting time for school by two hours, she said. It takes the 20-year-old an hour to drive each way to her classes now at PHCC’s New Port Richey campus.
Ventura’s also pleased that the new campus is near Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel, where Ventura eventually wants to work.
The Wiregrass Ranch High School graduate said she was a patient at the hospital, and the positive experience she had there helped seal her decision to pursue a nursing degree.
Julio Rivera, an employee in the hospital’s cafeteria, is also looking forward to the opening of the new campus, as he pursues classes in information technology.
“I live 5 to 10 minutes from here,” he said. “I drive by here all of the time.” Rivera said.
Stan Giannet, provost of Porter Campus, was enthusiastic about what the school intends to offer its students.
“We’re very fired up,” Giannet said, noting that PHCC expects to branch into four-year degree programs next year, with bachelor’s degrees in nursing as well as supervision and management.
The community college has received approvals from the state for the programs and is awaiting approval on its application for accreditation for the programs.
Once that clears, PHCC plans to change its name to Pasco-Hernando State College.
The four-year programs are slated to begin in fall of 2014.
Porter Campus also plans to be the only PHCC location to offer two new certification programs that the college will launch in 2014. Those certification programs are for surgical and pharmacy technicians, both fields where workers are in high demand.
One of the college’s missions is to help address workplace needs. “We want to be at the table to offer some solutions,” Giannet said.
The new campus is well equipped to serve student needs, Giannet said. It has a seven-story building, which includes four stories of classrooms on top of a three-story parking deck.
Beyond traditional classrooms, it also has nursing, computer and science labs as well as a two-story library. The nursing labs are so current that the mannequins used there can breathe and talk.
The campus also features two outdoor plaza areas, which Giannet believes will be popular places for people to congregate, for academic discussions and social gatherings.
He aspires to make the new campus an intellectual, cultural and community hub.
“We want to make it a vibrant campus for this community,” Giannet said.
The campus doesn’t have a cafeteria, but Giannet said students, staff and faculty members have many dining opportunities nearby.
“It’s so ideally situated in the heart of Wesley Chapel. There are restaurants that are peppering this entire area,” he said, adding that the library will have a coffee shop.
Besides offering a wide variety of programs, the college is committed to helping its students succeed, Giannet said.
“You are not a number. You are known. This is the kind of climate we are going to have at Porter Campus at Wiregrass,” Giannet said.
Courses will be offered in a variety of ways. Some will be taught in the traditional mode of a teacher delivering face-to-face instruction. Some will be offered online. Some will be a combination of both.
Pam Medley, the assistant dean of student development, said the college wants to help students get the classes they need.
Those transferring in must be sure to get their transcripts, to help them during the enrollment process, she said. Unofficial records can be used during the registration process, but official records are needed to release financial aid.
It’s also important for high school graduates to be aware that they can enroll as early as May for classes that begin in August.
The college will work closely with high schools for dual enrollment, where high school students can earn college credits, Medley said. She expects those relationships to be especially close between the college and Wiregrass Ranch High School, which is across the street from the new campus, and with Wesley Chapel High School, which is nearby.
The college also has a Teaching-Learning Center, which is committed to helping students achieve their potential. The idea is to help students engage in learning, whether they are tackling a complex research project or struggling to stay on pace, said Natalie Epo, coordinator of the Teaching-Learning Center.
Classes at Porter Campus are set to begin Jan. 13.
For more information, go to www.PHCC.edu.
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