Southwestern College leaders and students dedicated the new Plaza Building at the Higher Education Center in National City on Thursday, Feb. 22, doubling the educational space of the center.
In cutting the ribbon on the $22 million, two-story structure, college and National City officials talked about the partnerships that made the new facility possible.
“There were extensive efforts on the part of National City supporters to ensure that the land for this project was available,” SWC Higher Education Center Dean Christine Perri said.
The new building opened this semester with four new science labs, a medical assisting clinic, a large lecture classroom and a community room, where the event’s reception was held. A plaza and a second-story outdoor terrace that will provide places for students to sit, study and socialize between classes are also part of this project.
The new labs allow the National City Higher Education Center to expand its courses to offer in-demand anatomy, physiology, chemistry and microbiology labs.
Inside the medical assisting clinic, students get the full experience of becoming a medical assistant, including simulated waiting rooms and simulated clinical exercises and practices. On the floor above it, the corner lecture room can hold more than 50 students for large classes, like biology lectures.
“We are also going to provide community health services by appointment on different days of the week,” said Perri to La Prensa San Diego. “We created a waiting room next to the street so people can come in and check their blood pressure, and take other health screenings.”
College and City officials called the project transformative for the community.
“Just like construction projects run into obstacles, so do our students,” said Southwestern College Governing Board President Griselda Delgado. “But through education, our students build new lives for themselves and their families.”
Southwestern College Superintendent and President Kindred Murillo called the Higher Education Center at National City an economic engine for the community.
“In National City we have the Center for International Trade Development, the San Diego Contracting Opportunities Center, the Small Business Development Center and the South San Diego Small Business Development Center,” Murillo said. “Together we help entrepreneurs grow their businesses and compete globally.”
The project was funded by Proposition R, Southwestern College’s $389 million general obligation bond passed by South Bay voters in November 2008. Proposition R also funded a remodel of the Center for Business Advancement, which was dedicated last year, and which house the four different small business development organizations.
“This new building is about giving opportunity to the community,” said National City Mayor Ron Morrison who attended and participated at the ribbon cutting ceremony. “SWC Higher Education Center makes it more affordable and accessible for students.”