April 28, 2006

$25 Million Higher Education Center Coming to Otay Mesa

Continuing its efforts to make higher education more accessible to all residents of South San Diego County, Southwestern College (SWC) today broke ground for a new Higher Education Center at Otay Mesa (HEC, OM).

“We’re making it easier for people to pursue a college education,” said Norma L. Hernandez, SWC’s Superintendent/President, as she broke ground together with State Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny, San Diego Councilmember Ben Hueso, and several SWC and community representatives.

The new state-of-the art facility will cost approximately $25 million, will have a capacity to serve up to 5,000 students, and will be ready for occupancy in fall 2007. Funding for the project came from Proposition AA, an $89 million bond approved by local voters in 2000.

The 70,000 square-foot facility will house a number of signature programs including the Police Academy, Environmental Technology, Nursing, Fire Science Technology, Paramedic, Emergency Medical Technician, and International Business.

“We’re looking forward to providing the educational programs and training for the workforce that will strengthen the Otay Mesa community and the South Bay region,” said Dr. Angelica Suarez, project coordinator and Dean of the Education Center at San Ysidro. “This center will provide an opportunity for strong partnerships; serve as a leader of higher education, and a driver of economic well being.”

The facility will feature 15 classrooms, four science labs, and three computer labs. It will also provide the necessary support services for students—counseling, tutoring, financial aid, disability support services, student employment, etc.—to achieve academic success.

The College built its first satellite center in San Ysidro. The Education Center at San Ysidro opened its doors in 1988 offering 32 courses and serving 344 students. Today, it offers approximately 135 sections each semester and is a place where nearly 2,000 students pursue their educational goals in search of a brighter future. In fact, when completed, the HEC, Otay Mesa will become the temporary home of the Education Center, which will go through a $5 million dollar reconstruction.

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