The Del Mar College Alice Off-Campus Center opened its doors to the Alice community with several educational programs.

The center was possible through a $2 million grant awarded to the college in 2014 by the Texas Workforce Commission. With the grant, DMC expanded educational programs in a 12-county region of the Coastal Bend, including Jim Wells, Duval and Nueces counties.

These programs – General Education Development (GED), English as a Second Language (ESL) and Adult Basic Education (ABE) programs – are offered free of charge.

“Del Mar’s goal region-wide is to enroll and retain over 2,200 students in the GED, ESL and ABE programs annually and to create a pipeline for those students to enter the workforce, pursue an associate’s degree or both,” said Dr. Beth Lewis, DMC provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

Housed in the former National Guard Armory, the facility houses instructional space for various DMC programs with 40 new computers, abundant classroom space and new technology. A ribbon-cutting hosted by Alice Ambassadors and the Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday was conducted outdoors, followed by tours of the building.

Safety equipment used in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training courses were demonstrated, including a harness for fall protection, an air monitor, sound level meter and environmental quality meter. 

A Simtronics computerized simulator used in the DMC Process Technology Program to train students for positions in the petrochemical, refinery and manufacturing industries was also demonstrated. Models were displayed that are used in the program to help students understand the workings of an industrial plant. Additionally, training equipment used in DMC’s health care programs, including phlebotomy arms, an electrocardiogram (EKG) machine and a training mannequin was also demonstrated.

The programs are an answer to the White House’s challenge to community colleges, called the 21st Century Initiative Challenge. That challenge, from former President Barack Obama, stated that by 2020, community colleges would educate an additional five million students with degrees, certificates and other credentials.

Besides Nueces County, Alice is Del Mar’s second biggest location providing services related to adult education. Ninety students registered in January for classes at the Alice Off-Campus Center, which are held Monday through Thursday. 

“This facility is a place of hope, where adults of any age can receive quality educational opportunities and expand their horizons without fear of being judged,” Lewis said. 

In addition to adult education programs, Del Mar is offering a mini Career Pathways program at the Alice facility that includes two courses sanctioned by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration: OSHA 10 and OSHA 30. These courses are often a first step toward employment because they lead to nationally recognized safety certifications that are sought by Coastal Bend employers – particularly those in the oil and gas industry. 

The Career Pathways program will be expanded at the Center in the future to include courses that prepare students for careers in health care.

“We understand that in today's economy, education is the key to prosperity,” said Alice Mayor Ike Ornelas. “As a community, we are grateful in the fact that Del Mar College is here to help restart peoples lives by restarting their goals and their dreams.”