Lana Fontenot, associate vice chancellor for institutional advancement at South Louisiana Community College, speaks Thursday during a St. Mary Chamber of Commerce wine and cheese social. Fontenot discussed the realignment of the Young Memorial technical college campus in Morgan City to SLCC. That transition will finish July 1. (The Daily Review/Zachary Fitzgerald)

Young Memorial to offer path to four-year degree

Morgan City will soon be home to a community college that gives area residents the opportunity to start on a path to a four-year bachelor’s degree.

St. Mary Chamber of Commerce hosted a wine and cheese social Thursday for visitors to learn about the transition of Young Memorial’s technical college campus in Morgan City to realign with South Louisiana Community College.

Lana Fontenot, associate vice chancellor for institutional advancement at South Louisiana Community College, spoke during the event. SLCC has its main campus in Lafayette and serves over 13,000 students each year in nine parishes.

The transition at Young Memorial’s primary campus will finish July 1 and allow students to begin earning general education credits transferrable to four-year universities and to earn associate degrees in addition to the technical degrees already offered.

Young Memorial will become “a comprehensive community college,” which will still provide workforce training programs while also providing courses that “transfer seamlessly to a four-year university,” Fontenot said.

“We can now be that on-ramp in Morgan City, in your community, the pathway towards a baccalaureate degree,” she said.

Partnerships with four-year universities are vitally important to community colleges.

“Throughout our entire college, about half of our students go on and transfer to a four-year university, and the other go into those workforce training programs,” Fontenot said.

Nicholls State President Jay Clune attended Thursday’s social in Morgan City. Nicholls leaders plan to work closely with SLCC with a “two plus two” agreement to allow students to attend community college for two years and then finish a bachelor’s degree at Nicholls State, Clune said.

In March 2017, the Louisiana Community and Technical College System Board voted to realign South Central Louisiana Technical College’s Young Memorial campus with SLCC. The transition began in July 2017 at Young Memorial’s H & B Young Marine and Petroleum Safety Training Center. That first phase of the transition involved non-credit courses, which are classes that don’t count toward an academic degree.

SLCC’s adult education program also prepares individuals without a high school degree for the high-school equivalency test and then lets them “keep going at our college” to further their education, Fontenot said. College officials are working to ensure individuals in correctional facilities in St. Mary Parish can continue their education, too, she said.

Fontenot wants local companies to let college leaders know how they can serve businesses and provide training for workers.

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