The new Lone Star College Kingwood president’s 30-minute talk to the Rotarians of Lake Houston ended up taking more than an hour.
Dr. Melissa Gonzalez, now on the job at Kingwood for three months, lives in Fall Creek. She was peppered with questions and comments from Rotarians after she gave a quick update of the Kingwood campus.
Much of Gonzalez’ talk centered on dual credit programs earned by students still in high school and the many certification programs that students can earn as soon as in four to eight weeks. She bragged on the three bachelor’s degrees that Lone Star offers: a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), a bachelor of applied technology in cybersecurity (BAT) and a bachelor of applied science in energy, manufacturing and trades management (BAS-EMTM).
“Education changed my life,” Gonzalez said. “I would not be who I am and where I am without my education. We need to give this education opportunity to everyone.”
Gonzalez then deep dove into the plethora of certification and fast-track programs offered at Lone Star such as automotive technology, biotechnology, computer programming, construction, corrosion technology, fire science technology, HVAC, logistics management, pharmacy technology, welding plus game design and simulation.
“Some of our potential students don’t have two to four years to spend getting a degree,” she said. “They need to find a good paying job now and we can train them in a program often in four to eight weeks that will offer them good pay and benefits.”
Rotarian Pam McNair commented, “Employers need to understand that they may not need to hire someone with a four-year degree. Good employees can have associate degrees or one of the certification programs.”
Rotarian Jess Fields Jr. commented on the individuals he knew who entered certification programs rather than a four-year college and were successful, career-wise and financially, in vocations such as welding and plumbing.
Gonzalez also bragged on new construction underway or almost completed on the Kingwood campus.
The new process technology center is a stand-alone campus located at Generation Park that provides hands-on experience and certification in process technology and instrumentation technology.
A health professions center will house Kingwood’s multiple health certification programs. Now under construction, the center will include virtual experiences so that students can experience realistic health care skills.
Gonzalez described the Kingwood campus fire training facility and the Honors College, through which students develop projects and coursework on topics they are interested in or that will help them reach their career goals.
In answer to a question about high school students attending college classes that offer certifications, Gonzalez said the local school districts are open to these programs.
Because businesses need more workers, Gonzalez said that Lone Star finds itself providing more options for students to attend classes that lead to certification.
“If the community doesn’t know what we are offering, that is on us,” she said. “We are going out to the community and letting them know we are here and what we provide.”
“We do everything we can to make our students successful,” Gonzalez said. “We understand. Students need more than instruction. They need support.”
The Lake Houston Rotary will participate in two charity programs, according to President Katy Lemman. They will ring bells during the holiday season for the Salvation Army and their first project for 2022 will be spending a Saturday morning building beds for the Sleep in Heavenly Peace not-for-profit that builds beds for kids who don’t have them.
The Rotary Club of Lake Houston Area meets Wednesdays, 11:45 a.m., at the Lake Houston YMCA. The Summer Creek Satellite Club meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays at the second floor Board Room of Generation Park at 8:30 a.m. To learn more about the advantages of being a Rotarian, lharotary.com.