On my first day of work at Richland College in 2014, I walked out to the main bridge on campus and snapped a quick photo of Lake Thunderduck to share with my friends on Facebook. It was a new day, a new job, and I was excited about the possibilities my professional future held as I looked out over the water.
Despite looking forward to this new job, I didn’t quite know what to expect as I stood on the bridge that day. Even though I had worked for several universities previously, this was my first position at a community college. In fact, my only prior experience with a community college was one measly semester years ago to snag some core credits because my out-of-state undergraduate degree had been getting a bit costly, and my part-time job just wasn’t paying the educational bills. I needed a way to save some money, and a community college helped me with that.
At Richland College, I’ve seen students who—like myself many years ago—came here to save money before transferring to a four-year institution to complete a bachelor’s degree. I’ve met students who wanted to get into the workforce quick, and they enrolled in certificate programs aimed at providing them with the necessary skills needed to get a good job fast. Some students I’ve met wanted an associate degree to get their career started. Others looked forward to being the first in their family to graduate college.
I’ve crossed paths with high schoolers from Richland Collegiate High School, our rigorous on-campus high school, who wanted the challenge of taking college-level courses. I’ve been introduced to adult students who came back to college for a career change or to get ahead in their profession. I’ve met senior citizens who enrolled in non-credit programs because lifelong learning is so important to them. And believe me, I’ve met every student in-between these examples too.
I’ve also developed relationships with staff and faculty members who are so passionate about giving the gift of education to others. At Richland College, getting students into classrooms isn’t enough for those of us who work here. We want every student who enrolls at Richland College—whether through in-person classes, online classes or dual-credit classes in their high school—to succeed and thrive.
Upholding Richland College’s mission of teaching, learning and community building is something we take seriously. Whether it’s an ambitious high schooler who dreams of becoming an engineer or a grandmother who wants to gain more mobility and freedom by taking a senior mat class to build strength and coordination, we want our students to feel the pride of accomplishment. We want to give back to our community the best way we know how: through education.
Richland College offers our students and the community more than just driven educators and staff members. Dual-credit courses in local high schools allow students to get a head start on college credit. In our Technology, Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing (TEAM) Center, students learn on industry-recognized equipment. In Richland’s science building, students can experience the Anatomage table, a technologically advanced anatomy visualization system. For busy parents or those who learn better outside of a classroom, we provide multiple degrees, certificate programs and Texas core curriculum classes 100 percent online. Passion is great, but alone it’s not enough, so we strive to provide our students with the tools they need to succeed.
These days, it’s easy for me to cross that bridge on campus without really stopping to look at Lake Thunderduck. I’ve settled in, and you could say that in the past few years on campus I have learned what to expect from Richland College. I’ve learned that the diversity of our goals and our passion for education is what makes this such a great place to teach, learn and build communities.
Katie Storms is the senior web writer and editor at Richland College and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. If she’s not out riding her horse in her free time, you can often find her layered under multiple blankets at home with her husband and dog watching college football.