Dozens of potential students showed up Wednesday evening for the first-ever Florida Keys Community College "Spring Key-nnect Event."
The occasion was an open-house type affair, and an opportunity for interested students to tour the campus and meet some of the instructors who might be teaching them, come fall.
"The community college is a true American phenomenon," college President and CEO Jonathan Gueverra said shortly before the tour. "Right now, there are 13 million U.S. students attending a community college."
In his talk with the parents of students readying to apply to the college, Gueverra reeled off a number of surprising and impressive statistics while making his pitch for the institution.
"I can tell you that if I were to were walk outside right now and talk to the students walking by, I would know many of them by name, or something about who they are," Gueverra said. "Ours is a very dynamic but small personal environment."
On a walk-through of the Nursing Allied Health Division, Interim Dean Mary Turner, who is also an advanced registered nurse practitioner, touted the career paths possible with a nursing degree. After describing how one of her students recently saved the life of a diner at the restaurant where she works, Turner also pointed out that beyond the traditional bedside responsibilities associated with the profession, "You don't even have to like people to be a nurse. You could be a research nurse and crunch numbers."
At a talk on the benefits of an Associate of Arts degree, Arts and Sciences Dean Michael McPherson reminded the group that the degree "helps you get a broad smattering of different things," helping one to discover their true calling in life.
In a Business Administration/Hospitality ISLE (interactive student learning environment) classroom, Professor Frank Wood encouraged future students to discover their interests as a way of building a sound financial and personal future.
"If you can find your passion and turn it into something that someone will give you a dollar for, you'll never have to work," Wood said. "Or at least it won't feel like work all the time."
The student tour included a slide show from the college's popular Marine Sciences Division, and then converged with the parental tour for a crash course in financial aid and scholarships by Senior Financial Aid Specialist David Owens.
Owens mentioned student employment opportunities on campus, and warned the attendees to avoid, as much as possible, federal student debt, which he said was easy to get but much harder to pay back.
Asked about the status of the four-year bachelor's programs Gueverra has promised soon, the college president said he has informed the state of his intentions.
The next step in the process is to get state approval, and accreditation from the Southeast Association of Colleges and Schools.
The college may also need to hire additional faculty, expand the library and buy new equipment, he said. Such programs won't be up and running by the fall.
The college is currently accepting applications for its fall semester, which begins in August.