Study Abroad program revived

Lee College freshman Annalia Stewart always wanted to travel outside of the United States but never had the chance — that is, until the college revived its Study Abroad program this summer with a 10-day trip to Great Britain, Ireland and Wales.

“This was a great opportunity for me to travel abroad without being alone. We’ll really be able to feel the history we learn in class,” said Stewart, one of 16 students now exploring the treasured landmarks of the British Isles while also earning academic credit for their Lee College degrees.

The students, accompanied by Honors Program faculty members Dr. Gordon Lee and Portia Hopkins, left for Europe on May 18 and return to Baytown on May 28. It is the first Study Abroad trip the college has organized since 2008, when Lee took a group of students to London and Paris, he said.

“Study Abroad gives students a sense that something exists beyond their own community,” said Lee, an instructor of English and Humanities. “Students are always awe-filled by what they see and experience in another country. They develop a new perspective on the world and a new appreciation for cultural things.”

As part of the trip to the British Isles, students had to enroll in an intensive English and Humanities or History summer class that began prior to their departure. Lee and Hopkins, an instructor of American Studies and History, specially designed course content to pair with notable sites that students toured while abroad — helping them forge a deeper connection with what they saw.

The students also had to complete several scholarly reading and writing assignments and maintain a travel journal, and will prepare a Capstone presentation to deliver to the campus community later this summer.

Hunter McHugh, an Honors Program sophomore and the newly elected Student Government Association president, said the classwork is part of what makes traveling through Study Abroad more worthwhile than overseas trips she has taken in the past.

“Then, I was purely a tourist,” McHugh said. “Now, I know I’ll get more from the trip, and the experience will be more meaningful. This is something that I’m going to remember my whole life.”

Study Abroad at Lee College is an initiative of International Education being hosted in part through EF Educational Tours. For more information, contact Dr. Nader Naderi at nnaderi@leecollegeonline.com.

Weekend College program launches in fall

Lee College will launch a first-of-its-kind Weekend College program in the fall 2015 semester that will give working students and adult learners a new way to earn an associate’s degree while balancing job, family and other responsibilities.

The Weekend College is being funded through a $2.7 million First in the World Grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Education. Lee is the only community college district in Texas — and one of only four community colleges in the entire country — selected to receive First in the World grant funds.

Weekend College students can choose from five Associate of Art and Associate of Applied Science degree programs leading to careers in fast-growing, high-demand fields: General Studies — Allied Health, General Studies — Social Science, Business Administration & Management, Welding and Computer and Network Maintenance Technology.

All Weekend College classes will be held on Friday evenings and Saturdays in hybrid formats that blend online and classroom instruction, allowing students more freedom and flexibility in their daily schedules. Students will also benefit from small classes of only 18-25 people; a cohort model that groups the same students together from enrollment through graduation; and exclusive services like round-the-clock tutoring and personalized advising with a college counselor.

There will also be unique 3-week and 8-week bridge courses to help Weekend College students move more quickly from developmental to credit classes, and learning communities that connect students with specially selected peer mentors to offer support and encouragement throughout their college careers.

Lee College will host free information sessions about the Weekend College from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., June 6 and 27, in Rundell Hall on campus. For additional details about the program, visit leecollegeonline.com/weekend or contact First in the World Grant Director Victoria Marron at 281.425.6501 or vmarron@leecollegeonline.com, or Lead Instructor Kathryn Hernandez at 832.556.4019 or khernandez@leecollegeonline.com.

St. Thomas signs two Lady Rebels

As the five most recent graduates from the Lady Rebel Volleyball Team prepare to embark on the next phase of their educational journeys, two student-athletes have signed on to continue playing the sport they love at the university level.

Lady Rebels
Lady Rebels Volleyball Head Coach Tracie Johnson (top left), Assistant Coach Paige Jenkins Sorge (top right), Candace Grosjean (bottom left) and Alyzabeth Vincent (bottom right).

Candace Grosjean and Alyzabeth Vincent will join the volleyball team at the University of St. Thomas in Houston after receiving their associate degrees from Lee College last weekend at spring commencement. Grosjean is a graduate of Robert E. Lee High School in Baytown, while Vincent graduated from Deer Park High School.

“We are really proud of this group — not only for what they’ve done in athletics, but also for all they have done in school,” said Head Coach Tracie Johnson, who became acquainted with Grosjean and Vincent when both girls were in the seventh grade and beginning to build their volleyball skills. “I will miss these ladies a lot.”

Grosjean and Vincent counted the exceptional athletic facilities at Lee College among the things they would miss most about the Lady Rebel volleyball program, along with their teammates and coaches and the feeling of playing in the Sports Arena. Both are looking forward to what the next chapter holds.

“It’s so exciting to be able to finish college and get to play volleyball while we’re doing it,” Grosjean said. “We’ll have a lot of chemistry on the court, and I’m happy that we will be able to play another 2 years together.”

Vincent agreed, adding, “We’re excited to play again and thankful for this opportunity.”

Lee wins national student success award

Lee College has earned national recognition from the American Association of Community Colleges for its work to engage the entire campus and community in creating a college-going culture that ensures a successful student experience from high school through higher education.

Posed shot of administration, regents and awards
Lee College Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown, the Board of Regents and cabinet-level administrators celebrated winning the 2015 AACC Award of Excellence for Student Success at the regular board meeting held Thursday, April 30, 2015.

The association announced Lee College the winner of the 2015 Award of Excellence for Student Success Monday, April 20, at its annual awards gala in San Antonio. The coveted award honors the American community college that has best demonstrated — through evidence — a sustained commitment to student success, and proactively advances that cause.

“Lee College is focused on enhancing the learning, participation and success of our students,” said Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown. “We believe in providing support to students from connection to graduation, then on to the workforce in the career of their choice, or to a four-year institution. It is exciting to see the hard work and commitment of our outstanding faculty, staff, Board of Regents and community honored by the American Association of Community Colleges on a national level.”

The Student Success to the Core approach at Lee College is focused on involving all influencers in the process of helping students make a seamless transition into higher education. Dr. Christy Ponce, Vice President for Student Success, Workforce and Resource Development, said student success has been an institution-wide effort to support students from entry to completion of their chosen degree or certificate.

“It has been incredible to see every department get involved in some way: hosting students on campus to preview academic and technical programs; hosting STEM and family events; promoting fast-track training programs; offering scholarships, internships, and industry mentor opportunities; and helping students one-on-one through each of the enrollment steps,” Ponce said. “The dedicated individuals at Lee College have all come together in a big way to support student access, retention, and completion and are working to eliminate student barriers.”

High school and college counselors and faculty collaborate to align curricula to reduce the need for developmental coursework and increase student success in college classes. Students work with peer mentors and have the opportunity to take dual-credit courses while still in high school. Parents are offered resources that strengthen the at-home support system, like the free and bilingual Parent College 101. Parents surveyed about their participation called the program helpful and highly informative.

“This national award for Student Success is a testament to the great work going on at Lee College, from the main campus and McNair Center in Baytown, to the centers in Huntsville and Liberty, and all of our dual-credit sites,” Ponce said. “The college is scaling successful efforts and leading new regional initiatives on STEM and workforce, and is committed to helping each of our students be successful in reaching their educational goals.”

Business and industry partners, as well as non-profit organizations and local government and community volunteers, participate in the “Cradle to Career” network. There are also enhanced science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs, scholarships and paid internships. DeDe Griffith, director of Student Success, noted the national champion Lee College Debate Team, award-winning Honors Program and organizations like Phi Theta Kappa as proof the student-centered approach has merit.

“Working collaboratively, students, faculty, staff and administrators are breaking down silos for the greater outcomes for students,” Griffith said. “Every day there are examples of faculty, staff and administrators demonstrating a commitment beyond their general duties to help students complete their degree or certificate. It is all about forming meaningful relationships — internally and externally, but most importantly with students.”

The American Association of Community Colleges also praised the Gulf Coast Partners Achieving Student Success (GCPASS) Program, a partnership between Lee College and the Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District for which the college was awarded the prestigious 2014 Texas Higher Education Star Award. Through GCPASS, the college provides comprehensive off-site enrollment services at no charge to seniors at each of the 11 high schools in its service area.

“GCPASS has been an integral part of eliminating student barriers and fears about higher education,” Brown said. “While other Texas schools have experienced enrollment declines, GCPASS has helped us increase enrollment — in part by attracting and supporting students who might not otherwise have gone to college.”

Lee College was also one of four national finalists for the 2015 Award of Excellence in the Exemplary Board/CEO category in recognition of the working relationship between Brown and the Board of Regents in college governance.