Sowela hosts listen and learn tour

Technical college promotes programs for high school students

<div class="Content"><p class="indent">Sowela Technical Community College hosted its “Education in Action Training” on Monday and showed Calcasieu Parish School Board leadership what the campus can offer recent high school graduates.</p><p class="indent">Neil Aspinwall, Sowela chancellor, mentioned the Senior Technical Education Program and Sowela Transfer Academy Increasing Readiness for Seniors. Both programs allow high school students to earn college credit for a two-year college or a four-year university.</p><p class="indent">“You can get anywhere from here,” he said. “Sowela is not your granddaddy’s trade school.”</p><p class="indent">Wayne Bebee, college and transitions coordinator, told visitors to make sure students are aware of all of their options, rather than boxing them into one path based on their academic path or perceived goals.</p><p class="indent">“No matter where their final goals are, make sure you consider Sowela,” he said.</p><p class="indent">The $62 million worth of improvements at Sowela over the last few years have led to more student enrollment and retention, Aspinwall said.</p><p class="indent">“Our outside finally matches our inside,” he said, quoting Paula Hellums, Sowela’s vice chancellor for academic affairs.</p><p class="indent">Many classes offered at Sowela were created to fill the needs of local industries. Jonathan Darbonne, welding program coordinator, said they “teach above quality” to prepare future welders to “hang with” welders that have years of experience.</p><p class="indent">Sunshine Radford, aviation program manager, said 30 percent of aircraft mechanics are expected to retire by 2020. Because of this, Sowela is preparing its aviation students to not only pass the Federal Aviation Administration exam, but also get the industry credentials to be “all the more employable” beyond graduation, she said.</p><p class="indent">Lewis Williams, automotive technology instructor, said many students are already “gearheads” when they start at Sowela, but become “better-talented and even multi-talented” over time.</p><p class="indent">Robert Pete, CPSB director of high schools, said colleges like Sowela are important for the continued success of high school graduates. He cited numbers on the state and national levels that indicate colleges don’t have high graduation rates.</p><p class="indent">“We have a large amount of students who are ready for, but not prepared for that next step, and Sowela is a good avenue to gain that preparation,” Pete said.</p><p class="indent">Southern Business and Development Magazine recently named Sowela the best community college for workforce training in Louisiana.</p></div>

<strong>‘We have a large amount of students who are ready for, but not prepared for that next step, and Sowela is a good avenue to gain that prepration.’</strong>

<strong>Robert Pete</strong>

Calcasieu Parish School Board director of high schools

””<p>Sowela Arts and Humanities building</p>RickHickmanPhotographer