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.