By KEVIN CHIRI
Tammany West news
LACOMBE – The explosion of interest and enrollment at St. Tammany’s new Northshore Technical Community College is quickly confirming the importance and value of the much-anticipated school that is providing outstanding career choices for young and old.
The Northshore College opened its doors in the spring of 2017 after area officials pushed hard at the state level for funding to bring a technical college back to St. Tammany Parish. The former school on Bayou Liberty Road was destroyed in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina and since then, the state technical college system in Southeast Louisiana has been only as close as the Bogalusa and Hammond campuses.
Dr. William Wainwright, the school chancellor, said at a recent open house that the enrollment is already achieving more than they ever anticipated by reaching over 500 students already on campus, with an additional 700 taking classes online.
The school held the open house to continue getting the word out about the local availability of a multitude of courses that include two-year degrees in professional fields, four-year college prep classes and the online courses.
The Northshore College campuses include sites now in St. Tammany Parish, Bogalusa, Hammond and Greensburg.
However, the St. Tammany school had been long awaited by parish officials, as well as parents and prospective students, who desperately wanted the campus in the heart of the parish off the Lacombe exit of Interstate 12, easily accessible to all in St. Tammany.
“We have successfully launched a spring, summer and now a robust fall semester with the enrollment numbers growing all the time,” Wainwright said.
The open house displayed plenty of interest with several hundred students and parents coming out to learn more about the opportunities that include dozens of courses from welding to nursing, and drafting and design to maritime classes.
Most of the prospective students looking at what was offered there acknowledged all the reasons that parish officials said the St. Tammany school was needed.
“It’s so great I can come to my college so close to my home,” said 2016 Mandeville High grad Brittany Ware, considering a degree in biology.
Madison Sharp, her friend along for the visit after also graduating from Mandeville in 2016, said she is looking at some possible courses in the health care field.
Ty Macha, a senior at Fontainebleau High this fall, said he is considering the welding courses and also liked the proximity to home.
“And to know I can earn a degree in two years that will enable me to have a good career is great, not to mention the fact I could save my parents the money of a four year school,” he added.
The school is attracting individuals in many different situations, including some who graduated from high school several years ago and now want more education to enhance their future financial potential.
Christian Breedlove, a 2014 grad from Pearl River High, has worked in construction the past three years and now wants to get a degree in business.
“I like that the school provides more one-on-one instruction. It’s a chance to start over for me and that’s appealing,” he said.
The success of the first campus at the Lacombe location is just the start. Wainwright said that Northshore Technical College already has the dirt pad settling for Phase II, which will be an additional 20,000 square feet of classrooms to add to the 30,000 square feet they already have. He expects bids to go out this fall and doors opening by the summer of 2019.
“That will give us more classes, including a welding bay, building tech area, drafting and nursing classes,” he said. “Plus we will be able to provide a North Shore testing center for a variety of tests people now have to go to the South Shore for.”
Wainwright said the school has also partnered with Southeastern, Our Lady of the Lake, UNO and Southern Mississippi so that any class credits from NS Tech will transfer to those schools for four-year degrees or more.
The school has also provided a location for community events and activities, such as the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, the largest ever east-west Chamber “Business After Hours,” and a summer Robotics Camp.
For more information on the school, go online and visit northshorecollege.edu.