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COMMUNITY BENEFITS FROM DACC TRAINING

Multiple efforts under way to mend nursing program

by: Dr. Margie Huerta, President of DACC


Education, students, employees and community.  These are the values rooted within the mission of Doña Ana Community College. As a responsive and accessible learning-centered community college that provides educational opportunities to a diverse community of learners in support of workforce and economic development, the vision for DACC continues as a premier learning college grounded in academic excellence and committed to fostering lifelong learning and active, responsible citizenship within the community. 

As President of DACC for the past eight years, we’ve experienced increase in student enrollment, an expansion of our program offerings, strengthened curriculum and the forging of significant community partnerships. And, we’ve accomplished these things all in the best interest of our students and Doña Ana County residents. DACC prides itself on offering higher learning to residents who may not otherwise have these opportunities. In the past two years, DACC has added two additional learning centers located roughly 100 miles apart. With eight centers across Dona Ana County – Sunland Park, Gadsden and the new Chaparral center in the south; Central Campus, East Mesa Campus, Workforce Development Center and Mesquite Neighborhood Learning Center in the center of the county; and the new Hatch center to the north – now, more than ever, DACC offers residents opportunities to discover their potential and prepare for a vital role within the workforce. Additionally, with these expanded opportunities, DACC continues to assist community members in attaining their personal and professional goals through a wide range of credit and noncredit programs. 

DACC supports many other educational goals of our community. Our dual credit program, which allows students to earn college credits while completing their high school degree, once topped out at 150 students. Today, our enrollment has increased to approximately 1000 students. This important program provides a valuable springboard to higher education for students who may not otherwise have an opportunity to earn a college degree. Through our Adult Basic Education program, citizens can earn a general equivalency diploma (GED). Courses in General Studies help students acquire the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary for college success. Short courses offered through our Community Education program are available for personal enrichment. The Customized Training program provides educational offerings tailored to meet the needs of employees of local businesses. Least of all, the Small Business Development Center offers guidance to prospective and current small business owners and managers.

DACC has a profound impact on our local economy, and we are proud to be an integral part of our community. This summer, the University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research conducted an independent economic impact study to determine what effects DACC has on the local economy. The findings stated DACC had an estimated economic impact of $76.4 million in business output on the local economy in 2011, generated nearly 2,000 jobs, brought in $48.4 million in income and a earned a multiplied economic output of $152.5 million in fiscal year 2011. The study also measured the economic impact of increased earnings and spending by DACC graduates and noncredit students – including the more than 8,000 people who have received customized training at DACC – who still reside in the county. These individuals’ $67 million in increased earnings have, in turn, created 405 additional jobs that pay $12.8 million in income. The report estimated the average annual salary for an individual with a DACC associate degree is at least $12,000 more than that of a high school graduate. The report also shows DACC generated $72 million in revenue in fiscal year 2011. The capital expenditures of $3.6 million created 54 jobs with nearly $2 million in income. 

Our community partnerships remain strong. DACC has been at the table with community educators, leaders, business owners and chambers of commerce to discuss ways our community as a whole can increase high school graduation rates and support students to work toward earning two- and four-year degrees, resulting in a stronger workforce and, ultimately, boosting economic development. These important discussions over the years led to the establishment of the initiative we now know as The Bridge of Southern New Mexico. DACC continues its collaborative efforts with local school districts, students, current employers and leaders of potential new industries to develop programs tailored to meet their specific needs, all with the quest to see our students succeed, our workforce earning higher wages and advance our region’s overall economic well-being. 

Employers turn to DACC for job training programs, and we are answering their call through our Workforce Development Center and expanded course offerings. Today, as we look proactively to the future of job creation in southern New Mexico, DACC is developing programs and curriculum for emerging industries such as aerospace technologies and alternative energies. As the healthcare industry continues to expand, we are meeting employers’ needs by offering a dental hygiene program, and in the future, we plan to begin a new surgical technical and physical therapy programs. 

Our 15-year nursing program continues to be one of the most popular career tracks. Though we mourn the recent loss of our program’s accreditation, we have the full support of the New Mexico Board of Nursing, and our program is gaining strength through the support of our community, faculty, staff and students who are offering their assistance. Currently, we have an advisory team comprised of academic and financial aid advisors to assist nursing students as they navigate their chosen career path, and we are offering tuition assistance through scholarships to students who choose to remain in our nursing program. Additionally, we have a special committee to oversee and assist our accreditation efforts, which also includes the recruitment and retention of additional full-time and part-time master’s level faculty. Our program continues to be recognized for its strong curriculum, available student resources, pass rates and employer placement rates. DACC supports its nursing program director, faculty and staff who are diligently and expeditiously working toward our accreditation. We believe our students, the program and our community will be stronger as a result of these efforts. 

As a comprehensive community college, DACC remains dedicated to creating a supportive atmosphere conducive to student success, workforce readiness and lifelong learning. Our faculty and staff are committed to making higher education accessible to all members of our community, and our students are committed to attaining their career goals. 

Because of our sustained leadership, proven performance of our graduates and commitment to student success, DACC has been recognized as a leader among the 1200 community colleges across the nation as one of the top 50. 

Thank you for continuing your support of DACC, its students, faculty, staff, program offerings. We are proud to be part of your community.