In August 2006, more than 250 county residents began attending the Jefferson State Community College St. Clair-Pell City Campus. To date, more than 7800 students have been helped at this campus to achieve their educational and career goals.
Enrollment at the St. Clair-Pell City Campus has grown significantly through the years. This fall, Jefferson State expects record enrollment at this campus of more than 700 students.
“Over the last 10 years, Jefferson State’s St. Clair-Pell City Campus has been a proud partner in the St. Clair County community,” said Jefferson State Interim President Keith Brown. “We are thankful for our community partnerships and we are excited about the growth and expansion of our campus.”
Jefferson State recently announced a $500,000 expansion that will add a nursing and allied health wing on the third floor. The addition was based upon a combination of community partnerships and student demand. More than 20 percent of the students at the campus are enrolled in health programs.
“We want to do everything we can to better serve our students in St. Clair County,” said Brown. “We all know education changes lives and we will continue to offer a high quality education that is both affordable and convenient to St. Clair County residents.”
The campus in Pell City makes higher education within reach for many without the added expense of a lengthy commute. The college’s initial offerings in Pell City were introductory-level courses that could apply toward almost any two or four-year degree in over 100 areas of study. Today, those courses are still available and students can now begin and finish two-year associate’s degree in the area of Nursing as well as Manufacturing.
While the campus was still in the idea stage, it was known as “Project Dynamite” and became the anchor of expansion for future development on land along the Interstate 20 corridor. This area now includes Jefferson State, St. Vincent’s Hospital, and the Veterans Home – each of which offers services designed to improve the quality of life in St. Clair County.
Lead by visionaries Jefferson State President Dr. Judy Merritt, former St. Clair Economic Development Council Executive Director Ed Gardner, Sr., former Pell City Mayor Guin Robinson, and a host of key community leaders, locating the Jefferson State campus in Pell City has been a catalyst to numerous opportunities and partnerships.
Jefferson State’s reach to citizens in the region is tremendous. Over 200 high school students in St. Clair County participate in dual enrollment each semester. Dual enrollment allows these students to earn college credit while still in high school. This past spring, an inaugural class of students at Pell City High School completed the Jefferson State class curriculum and passed the State of Alabama certification exam to become Certified Nursing Assistants. These students were equipped and ready to move into the workforce as trained assistants all before completing their senior year.
Career training at Jefferson State for adult learners has presented pathways to employment for many seeking workforce opportunities. A special class of dental assistant students recently recorded a 100 percent pass rate, aided by scholarship education grants and the St. Clair County Head Start which provided child care while the students, all mothers, were in training for eleven weeks. These non-traditional students are now positioned to enter the workforce as dental assistant with a credential in hand.
“By working together, the St. Clair County community has accomplished so much over the last 10 years,” said Brown. “Jefferson State is proud to have been a part of the progress and we look forward to serving our students and the community in the future.”