Lee students selected for scholarships to pursue careers in chemical industry

Lee College students selected to receive scholarships this year.
Lee College students selected to receive scholarships this year from the Community College Petrochemical Initiative attended a recognition luncheon Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017, at the ExxonMobil office in Baytown. Pictured (l-r): Woody Paul, Manager of the ExxonMobil Baytown Olefins Plant; Dr. Christina Ponce, Lee College Executive Vice President; students Crisol Napoles, Edmeade Prentice and Christopher Patterson; Dr. Angela Oriano, Lee College Vice President of Workforce & Corporate Partnerships; and Dr. Dennis Brown, Lee College President.

BAYTOWN, TX — After leaving school 10 years ago to focus on his family, Christopher Patterson willingly accepted a pay cut to be able to return to Lee College and finish what he started: pursuit of an associate degree.

Now majoring in process technology, Patterson is one of three Lee College students who will receive scholarships this year from the Community College Petrochemical Initiative (CCPI). Crisol Napoles and Edmeade Prentice were also selected and joined other scholarship recipients Aug. 3 at the ExxonMobil office in Baytown for a recognition luncheon. In total, CCPI awarded $45,000 in scholarships to 38 students from all nine community colleges along the Texas Gulf Coast that can be used for tuition, fees, books or other training program expenses.

Funded through a grant from ExxonMobil, CCPI is a collaboration of the Texas Gulf Coast community colleges to recruit and train the next generation of petrochemical and construction trades workers for the Houston-Galveston region. Since its launch five years ago, ExxonMobil has contributed more than $2 million to CCPI to support training in petrochemical fields like computer-aided drafting and design, electrical technology, instrumentation, machine technology, millwrighting, pipefitting, process technology and welding. Lee College is the lead institution in the initiative.

“I have an analytical mind and as I dive into process technology, I always want to know more,” said Patterson, who will graduate from Lee College in a year. “The CCPI scholarship means so much to me. I had to make several sacrifices in order to come back to school and even though it may be hard work, I know it will pay off for me and my family in the long run.”

Potential salaries average nearly $100,000 a year for skilled workers in the growing chemical manufacturing industry, and companies are projected to need more than 50,000 new workers in the Gulf Coast area over the next 10 years. In a keynote address to the scholarship recipients, Mike Zamora, director of Americas Regional Manufacturing for ExxonMobil Chemical, praised the work of the CCPI and noted the wealth of opportunities awaiting students as they prepare to embark on petrochemical careers.

“The Community College Petrochemical Initiative partnership is a wonderful example of what can be accomplished when employers and educators work together,” Zamora said. “Encouraging and developing a well-educated and skilled workforce is vital to the industry’s success in meeting a growing global demand for chemical products and continuing economic growth and prosperity in Gulf communities.”

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Huntsville Center featured on Houston Public Media’s ‘Houston Matters’

Award-winning public affairs show highlighted center’s 51-year history in prison education

Grandon Warren, Krista Gehring, and Donna Zuniga
Lee College Huntsville Center Dean Donna Zuniga (right) and Transition Specialist Brandon Warren (left) appeared July 27, 2017, on Houston Public Media’s “Houston Matters” radio show to discuss the effort to provide Texas Department of Criminal Justice inmates the opportunity to earn college credits while still behind bars. Krista Gehring (center), a criminal justice faculty member at the University of Houston – Downtown, was also part of the panel. The Huntsville Center is one of the oldest and largest correctional education programs in the country and graduated nearly 200 students in June, the most in its 51-year history.

BAYTOWN, TX — The Lee College Huntsville Center, one of the oldest and largest correctional education programs in the country, was recently featured on “Houston Matters,” an award-winning public affairs radio show that airs weekdays on Houston Public Media and explores people, places, issues and ideas unique to the city and region.

Huntsville Center Dean Donna Zuniga and Transition Specialist Brandon Warren joined “Houston Matters” host Craig Cohen on July 27 to discuss prison education and the effort to provide offenders incarcerated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) the opportunity to earn college credit while still behind bars. The Huntsville Center offers associate degree and certificate programs in academic and technical fields to a growing enrollment of more than 1,200 students across six TDCJ units.

In June, the Huntsville Center celebrated the graduation of nearly 200 students – the largest class in the program’s 51-year history. Recidivism data show that offenders who receive education while in prison are significantly less likely to return upon release; in fact, more than 90 percent of Lee College graduates never return to prison after re-integrating into society.

To listen to Zuniga and Warren’s full interview on “Houston Matters,” visit www.houstonpublicmedia.org.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Campus concealed weapon policy set to go into effect Aug. 1

New campus carry rules apply to all students, faculty, staff and visitors; full details online

BAYTOWN, TX — In accordance with the state law allowing individuals with a concealed handgun license to carry a handgun on the campuses of all Texas public colleges and universities, Lee College will implement its new Campus Concealed Weapon Policy on Tuesday, Aug. 1.

The full text of the Lee College Campus Concealed Weapon Policy is now available online at www.lee.edu/campus-carry, along with responses to frequently asked questions. The new campus carry rules will apply to all students, faculty, staff, and visitors across the college district, including the main campus and the McNair Center in Baytown.

There are several key points about the policy to remember:

The open carry of handguns on the Lee College campus is still prohibited. Under concealed carry, no person should notice that someone is carrying a gun. The outline of a gun should not be visible through their clothing or bag.

  • Only persons who have a license to carry a concealed weapon can bring a handgun on campus. Any certified peace officer may also carry a gun on campus.
  • License to Carry holders must carry their hand guns on or about their person, or secure their handgun in a locked motor vehicle at all times while on campus. Lee College does not provide storage for handguns.
  • Only handguns are permitted under the Campus Carry Policy, not rifles or other long guns.
  • There are areas on campus defined by state law or designated by the president as exclusionary zones, where the concealed carry of handguns will be prohibited. These areas will be clearly marked with signage notifying License to Carry holders that entry with a concealed handgun is prohibited.

After Gov. Greg Abbott signed Texas Senate Bill 11 into law in summer 2015, Lee College convened a task force of administrators, faculty, staff and students to draft the initial campus carry policy. The task force also conducted town hall meetings and focus groups to solicit insights and feedback from stakeholders both on and off campus. The Lee College Board of Regents approved the final policy in June.

“At Lee College, safety is a priority for our students, faculty, staff and visitors,” said Steve Evans, vice president of Finance and Administration. “Lee College leadership has been working closely with stakeholders to develop policy and procedures for this new law, as well as to determine how the law will be implemented.”

For additional information about the Lee College Campus Concealed Weapon Policy, visit www.lee.edu/campus-carry.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee students experience ancient, modern China for Study Abroad 2017

Lee College Study Abroad 2017 in China: Group photo
Lee College students and faculty explored historical and cultural sites in Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai this summer on the Study Abroad trip to China. The Study Abroad program provides students the opportunity to travel to another country while also earning credit for their Lee College degrees. From left: Instructor Sunny Jiang Schultz, Abigail Vernier, Cameron Lieck, Lucas McCrary, Saige Willingham, Emily Blumentritt, Shianne Willingham, Camila Acuna, instructor Chris Whitaker, Kayla Medina, Justin Mathews, and Jazmine Rodriguez.

BAYTOWN, TX — Lee College Study Abroad students spent nine days in China this summer exploring the ancient and modern sides of the world’s most populous country at historic and cultural sites in Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai — and all while earning valuable academic credits in the process.

“I could make it through all my degrees and never leave Texas, but I wouldn’t be very cultured,” said Justin Mathews, one of six Study Abroad students who received a scholarship to help fund the trip and shared lessons learned with the campus community in mid-June after the group’s return to Baytown.

While discussing American and Chinese attitudes toward each other over 250 years of shared interaction, Mathews noted that many of the Chinese people he encountered there — particularly children and youth — were eager to approach the students for photos and conversation.

“I couldn’t communicate very well, but I still built bonds,” he said. “Our generation has been raised in an era of globalization with technology and social media; we’ve opened up. People are breaking down walls through acts of friendship and kindness.”

Study Abroad provides students the opportunity to explore another country while also earning credit for their Lee College degrees. The program was revived at the college in summer 2015 with a trip to Great Britain, Ireland and Wales. Since then, Study Abroad students have also traveled to Belize, China and Costa Rica; Germany is the next destination slated for summer 2018.

Before traveling abroad, students enrolled in specially designed English, humanities and history courses taught by instructors Sunny Jiang Schultz and Chris Whitaker, who also accompanied them to China. The courses helped prepare the students for all they would see and experience on the trip, which included visits to the Forbidden City; Tienanmen Square; the Great Wall of China; the Shaanxi Provincial Museum; and the Shanghai World Financial Center. Students also visited a local school in Beijing, took in Tang Dynasty and acrobatics shows, participated in a tea ceremony and dined on Peking Duck and other Chinese cuisine.

When they got back to campus, students delivered presentations on a variety of topics to illustrate how much they learned — from traditional Chinese medicine and common food choices, to Chinese treatment of natives and minorities, Chinese voyages of exploration and the differences between ancient Greek and Chinese philosophy.

“The trip was really great, but the people I went with were amazing,” Schultz said. “I saw Lee College students’ strength as they pursued their dreams, took initiative, persevered, had fun and enjoyed. It was a very rewarding experience.”

For more information about Study Abroad at Lee College, contact Nader Naderi, chairman of International Education, at nnaderi@lee.edu.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee College Foundation prepares to award fall 2017 scholarships, host annual gala

Foundation relies on individual & corporate donors to support hundreds of worthy students  

Lee College Foundation scholarship recipient Thomas Sweeney
Lee College Foundation scholarship recipient Thomas Sweeney speaks at the annual Foundation Scholarship Breakfast in April about the scholarship awards that enabled him to pursue higher education and enjoy an enriching and rewarding campus experience. All students at Lee College are eligible for foundation scholarships, which are funded through the generosity of private and corporate donors throughout the community.

BAYTOWN, TX — The fall 2017 semester begins next month and the Lee College Foundation is preparing to award scholarships to hundreds of deserving students both new to campus and returning to continue their journey to a degree or certificate.

Many scholarship recipients would be unable to afford tuition, textbooks and other essentials without the generosity of private and corporate donors throughout the community who give to the foundation. Nearly two dozen of the new scholarships to be awarded for 2017 were sponsored by individuals – families, alumni, former employees and friends of the college among them – who believe in the importance of higher education and want to support students in reaching their dreams.

“Individuals and businesses in this community have made life-altering changes for so many of our students by providing them with financial support,” said Pam Warford, executive director of Foundation and Resource Development. “Many students just don’t have the means to pay for college, or they work and go to school simultaneously. For their community college, these advocates for education have enabled students who have the ability and the desire to achieve a degree and create a better life for themselves and for their families. I am so grateful to each of them for their continued support.”

All Lee College students are eligible to receive scholarships, regardless of their program of study or enrollment status. The Foundation Board of Directors awarded more than $470,000 in the 2016-17 academic year to full-time and part-time students, high school students earning college credit in dual-enrollment classes, offenders in the Lee College Huntsville Center correctional education program, and students taking non-credit classes through the Center for Workforce and Community Development. In addition, the foundation maintains a Student Success Fund to help students facing extraordinary circumstances pay for college-related expenses.

Though a straight-A student throughout his career at Dayton High School, Thomas Sweeney arrived at the crossroads between high school and college unsure of which way to go. He knew he could succeed academically, but difficult family circumstances meant he was limited financially. Lee College was his choice for its affordability compared to other options, and he was ultimately awarded the foundation’s Rockwell Fund and Sam Bramlett Memorial scholarships.

“I was raised in a household where I didn’t really have a whole lot of opportunities,” said Sweeney, who shared his story in April at the annual Foundation Scholarship Breakfast, just one semester away from graduation. “My dad worked a job that he didn’t particularly care for and he wasn’t in the best of health, but he persevered because he saw the value of education. That’s why he pushed my sister and I really hard in school to be successful.”

After taking several Lee College Honors Program courses and becoming involved in student organizations on campus, Sweeney was selected to present original research at two academic conferences and said he gained a greater appreciation for thinking critically about the world around him. His “enriching and self-fulfilling experience” in college would likely have been unattainable without foundation support.

“I can honestly say these generous scholarships took quite the weight off my shoulders,” Sweeney said. “It was a very rewarding experience to have my hard work receive recognition so I could continue my educational career with the peace of mind of having my financial needs taken care of. The foundation donors and board have my sincerest and deepest appreciation and respect for their generosity in allowing students like myself, and many other diverse students, the ability to achieve our goals and ambitions.”

Planning is now underway for the 32nd annual Lee College Foundation Gala, which benefits student scholarships and other forms of support. For more information about the gala or giving to the foundation, contact Warford at 281.425.6361 or pwarford@lee.edu.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Research by Lee alum leads to historical marker at Double Bayou Dance Hall

American Studies thesis sets foundation for state recognition of hall known for Texas blues

Photo of the historical marker. Caleb Moore and John Britt stand on either side.
Lee College alumnus Caleb Moore (left) joins retired instructor John Britt at the Double Bayou Dance Hall on Saturday, June 24, 2017, to celebrate the dedication of the official Texas State Historical Marker recognizing the hall’s significance to surrounding communities. Moore completed a thesis for Britt’s American Studies course that focused on the dance hall and led to the marker being erected at the site in Chambers County.

ANAHUAC, TX — Before he began researching the Double Bayou Dance Hall in Chambers County to complete his thesis for the American Studies course offered through the Lee College Honors Program, alumnus Caleb Moore had never heard of the little one-room gathering spot on the “Chitlin’ Circuit” where blues legends like T-Bone Walker and Big Joe Turner stopped to perform on their way to Houston.

Now, many of the facts that Moore uncovered for his research paper grace a Texas Historical Marker recognizing the dance hall’s significance to the predominately African-American community of Double Bayou and those who flocked to it for generations, eager to end a hard day’s work by dancing to the rich sounds of Texas blues filling the rafters and spilling into the surrounding woods.

Established in the late 1920s and constructed of wood, hog wire, and cedar logs under a tin roof, the original dance hall structure was destroyed by a storm in 1941 and rebuilt nearby just after World War II. For Moore, an honored guest at the historical marker dedication ceremony hosted in late June by the Chambers County Historical Commission, it felt good knowing he played a role in ensuring the story of the Double Bayou Dance Hall will endure even if the building itself does not.

“If people don’t write the history down, it disappears,” said Moore, who graduated from Lee College in May 2013. “Now the dance hall has something that will stay, something that’s set in stone. People can look at the marker to remember and learn about their heritage.”

The American Studies class combines American literature and history, using an interdisciplinary approach to help students examine American culture and gain an understanding of how literature reflects historical events. Retired instructor John Britt started the course and was team-teaching with faculty member Kathleen Sydnor when Moore settled on the Double Bayou Dance Hall as the focus of his final capstone project, which requires students to complete a research paper about an event of literary or historical significance.

“Lee College is one of only a few community colleges in the country with an American Studies program,” said Britt, a past executive committee member of the Chambers County Historical Commission and an award-winning author and historian. “I suggested the topic and (Moore) ran with it. He dove right into the research.”

At the dedication ceremony, descendants of the dance hall’s owners and members of the community listened to live music and reminisced on good times over old photos, mementos and plates of barbecue. Moore was surprised to see his own aunt in one of the shots in the photo archive, reminding him of the lesson he learned while working on the thesis that ultimately brought the historical marker to Double Bayou.

“You can think something doesn’t have anything to do with you, but everything in this world has a connection to you,” he said. “You just have to take the time to learn history, talk to people and explore the world around you.”

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

 

Youth camps now taking registrations

To register for any of these events, visit www.lee.edu/workforce/ or call 281.425.6311.

Aviation Camp

Soar into the world of aviation and create unforgettable memories! This one-day summer camp will introduce campers to the cutting edge of aviation and the basics of flight through a unique combination of fun and discovery.

Aviation Camp is open to children 10-15 years old, and it is held 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 3. The cost is $69, which includes lunch.

Camp participants will explore through education, team building, smart learning classrooms, hands-on activities, sophisticated flight simulations, and an adventurous tour at a local airport, where they will witness a day in the life of a pilot.

Participants also will gain skills to apply to in everyday life and discover the unlimited opportunities a career in aviation presents. Field trips will be to Texas Southern University and Hobby Airport. Close-toed shoes are required.

Youth Entrepreneur Camp

Do you have a great idea? Do you want to have your own business some day? If so, and if you’re between the ages of 12 and 16, this camp is for you!

The camp runs 1-4 p.m. Thursday, July 27, in room 351 of the ATC on Lee College’s main campus in Baytown.

Every good idea needs a plan. In this class you will explore business options and business plans for your unique ideas. You will learn how to develop your ideas, organize your facts, market your product/service and potentially make a profit. You learn hands-on about running a business by operating the campus Books and Beans store. At the end of this course, you will have a basic understanding of what’s needed to get your business off the ground and find investors!

Lunch is included in the $19 camp registration fee.

Let’s Keep it Real

Financial Education is a tool that no one can take from you. Let’s Keep it Real, an interactive financial presentation inspired by the game show Let’s Make a Deal, makes financial learning fun, while giving students an incentive to listen.

This free session takes place 9-10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 10, in the Bayer Conference Room of the main Lee College campus in Baytown.

Knowing that there are tangible prizes entices students to become engaged and retain the information presented to them at the moment, while they subconsciously absorb the facts that will ultimately make them winners at life. Let’s Keep it Real introduces financial knowledge regarding credit, budgeting, wants, needs, and other aspects of the world of finance.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.