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Leveraging Technology to Deliver to Prepare Rural Students for 21st Century Jobs

Southwest Texas Junior College has addressed one of the main issues facing rural colleges—distance. Southwest Texas Junior College utilizes technology and creative partnerships to reach students where they are.

Ed. Note: Champions of Change is a weekly initiative to highlight Americans who are making an impact in their communities and helping our country rise to meet the many challenges of the 21st century.

Hector Gonzalez

Southwest Texas Junior College has addressed one of the main issues facing rural colleges—distance.  We have responded to the healthcare needs of our area hospitals specifically in the area of vocational nurses, registered nurses, and radiologic technicians, by utilizing technology and creative partnerships.  We utilize interactive television to broadcast lectures across our vast service area which is larger than 10 states.

Technology has enabled us to provide quality healthcare education to a student population that otherwise would not have had convenient and ready access to this type of instruction. In addition, we have invested in realistic, full-body adult, wireless patient simulators that can reproduce complex diseases that students may not have an opportunity to experience in rural hospitals. SWTJC has partnered with area hospitals to train their employees as preceptors to assist with the supervision of the students during their clinical rotations.

Southwest Texas Junior College has developed 1+1 programs in career and technology fields with area high schools.  High school junior and seniors can enroll and complete the first year of a technical program, graduate high school with a diploma along with a one year certificate.  After graduation they can enroll in the second year of the technical program as a sophomore and within one year complete their associate of applied science.  This partnership has allowed our career technology minded students to enter the workforce at a much quicker pace, with a certificate and or associate’s degree.

Dr. Hector Gonzales is Chief Academic and Financial Officer of Southwest Texas Junior College.