CyFair campus opens new facilities for fall start of class
When 21-year-old Juan Lerma leads a group of incoming students around the oval-shaped campus of Lone Star College-CyFair, he encourages them to participate in activities, apply for scholarships and take advantage of services offered.
Before he wraps up his community college career this fall and heads to the University of Houston — where he already is taking some classes — he spent the month of June in China through a Lone Star program, become a student leader through the Office of Student Outreach and Recruitment and got involved in theater.
"I’m the first generation to go to college in my family," said Lerma, adding that he used cost considerations and location as deciding factors in continuing his education.
He’s majoring in finance and marketing, with a minor in Chinese language. He said he’s always been interested in finance and self-expression — "targeting an audience and seeing what works." And, China is where it’s at in today’s financial markets as far as Lerma is concerned.
He likes Lone Star CyFair because it offers core required courses and a work-force program.
"You can find what you need and what you’re good at and it won’t cost a lot money at the same time," he said.
Other pluses he named include the ability to keep in contact with professors and the campus’ community connections. The library is a joint venture with the Harris County Public Library system, the art gallery hosts exhibitions open to the public and the community is invited to theater performances on campus.
Lerma apparently is part of a growing crowd.
Last fall’s enrollment of 45,475 is up 7,015 from that for fall 2009.
Erin Smith-Brucia, program coordinator of the college’s Office of Student Outreach and Recruitment, said more than 1,800 participated in new student orientation through Aug. 4, with orientation continuing until Aug. 25. Last August, she said, 2,100 participated in new student orientation.
Most classes are capped at 25 students, she said.
Referring to enrollment projections, CyFair College President Audre Levy said, "Currently, we’re over 20 percent at this time last year. With all that’s happening with new facilities and with a bump in growth, I’m confident we’ll maintain or exceed what we did last year."
Blanca Velazquez, 18, and Dominique Bradley, 19, are members of the incoming fall class and both are excited about the start of school.
After completing Lerma’s tour, Velazquez, a member of the Katy High School 2010 Homecoming Court and 2011 graduate, said, "I like the campus. It’s really pretty."
Both have friends who already attend the campus, and Bradley said, "It’s a good school to get basics out of the way."
A Hurricane Katrina survivor and 2011 Cypress Lakes High School graduate, Bradley wants to be a pediatrics nurse and would like to work at Texas Children’s Hospital.
Velazquez is interested in communications or media and plans to transfer to a four-year college after completing her basics.
College figures show that approximately 25 percent of the enrollment comes from the Katy area.
Having worked at the college for a little more than four years, Smith-Brucia said, "It’s convenient, easy to get to and a warm and inviting campus. There are lots of opportunities for everyone to get involved."
But the fast-paced growth has drawbacks, specifically related to traffic and parking, she said.
The college addressed parking by adding more than 1,000 spaces last fall, Levy said.
New this year are an addition to the Health Science Center, which is open, and the Center for Academic and Student Affairs, which is expected to be completed by the Aug. 29 start of class.
The 53,000-square-foot health science addition features 15 classrooms, seven science labs, four computer labs and faculty office space.
The 138,000-square-foot CASA will have 44 classrooms, 10 computer labs, a lecture hall and offices for faculty and administrators. The student services area will provide space for registration, financial aid, advising, counseling and other student services.
Levy said the college isn’t expanding many academic programs, but is moving what had been housed in seven modular classrooms to the new facilities.
The campus at 9191 Barker-Cypress Road opened in 2003. LSC-CyFair is the fifth college in the Lone Star College System and includes the satellite campus at the Fairbanks Center, 14955 Northwest Freeway.
"We’re moving all student services to CASA," said Levy, who explained that when the Barker-Cypress campus opened, officials created a one-stop center for student services.
Because of enrollment growth, "we’re adding more advising capacity and doing more to help our students be successful," she said.