Lee honors first graduates of the Weekend College

Less than 2 years after program launched, nearly 30 students will receive associate degrees

Lee College's first Weekend College graduation event held in Rundel Hall, 05/07/17
Less than 24 months after enrolling in the Weekend College at Lee College, the first graduates of the innovative program were honored at a ceremony held Sunday, May 7, 2017, and will receive associate degrees at 2017 Spring Commencement. Pictured, back row, from left: Jessica Francis, Olivia Barillari-Davila, Ezequiel Arriaga, Christopher Ramirez, Gerald Garcia, Gabriel Peterson, Tyler Butler, Juan Herrera, Alex Garza, George Jewell and Jose Castillo. Middle row: Raquel Velazquez, Rosa Ibarra Castillo; Reyna Gomez, Jameal Jones, Christy Ary, Cathy Graham and Ronise Devore. Bottom: Brittany Farrias and Cinthia Aguillon.

BAYTOWN, TX — Less than 24 months after entering the Weekend College at Lee College and embarking on a brand-new journey targeted to adult learners and working students juggling school with other responsibilities, the first 28 graduates of the program were honored at a special ceremony held just days before they cross the stage to receive their associate degrees at the 2017 Spring Commencement.

“It is amazing to recognize the very first graduates of our Weekend College program. You all are truly trailblazers. Because of your persistence and cooperation, we’ve developed something that will serve a lot of students in the future,” Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown shared with graduates in a keynote address at the ceremony, held Sunday, May 7, in the Rundell Hall Conference Center. “What you have done sets in motion something that will inspire those who will follow you someday.”

Funded through a $2.7 million First in the World Grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the Weekend College gives students the opportunity to earn associate degrees in less than 2 years by attending classes only on Friday evenings and Saturdays. Five majors are offered: Transfer in Allied Health, General Studies – Social Science Concentration, Business Administration and Management, Industrial Welding Technology and Computer and Network Maintenance Technology.

Of the first cohort of students to enroll in the Weekend College in Fall 2015, fully 65 percent are expected to complete their degree programs within three years or less – significantly more than the state average of 12 percent. Much of that success is attributed to the program’s unique design, which keeps the same groups of students together from enrollment to graduation or transfer; offers courses at multiple campus locations, with many delivered in a hybrid format that blends online and classroom instruction; provides block scheduling that enables students to know exactly which courses to take and when they will be held; and ensures Weekend College courses are never dropped or filled to capacity. Students also work with a completion coach who helps them apply and enroll, secure financial aid and conquer any challenges that arise during the program or after graduation.

“You would never have made it through the Weekend College if you didn’t have ambition, faith and belief that this could be done, and you did it,” Brown said. “You challenged yourself in this program, and you should continue to challenge yourself. Never settle for the least; always look for the most. Go out, find, search, seek and make it happen. Education is the one thing that no one can ever take from you.”

At the ceremony, graduates received glass trophies acknowledging their completion of the program and awarded certificates to someone whose support made a difference during their Lee College career — whether it was a faculty or staff member, classmate, parent, spouse or even their child. Reyna Gomez, who will be receiving an Associate of Applied Science degree in Management, thanked Weekend College Completion Coach Jessica Falla for helping her at every step of the journey.

“I started the program really nervous and was going to stop going to school completely, but you were always there from the beginning,” Gomez said, referring to Falla and the other Weekend College staff and instructors whom she got to know in the program. “Nobody knew I was struggling trying to keep up with my classes, but I had a dream to accomplish. Though it wouldn’t be easy, you told me it would be worth it. Thank you all, because I made it.”

The Lee College Foundation also awarded scholarships to four of the top Weekend College students in the 2017 graduating class that can be used to continue their education or for expenses they face as they prepare to enter the workforce. Recipient Alex Garza, who maintained a 4.0 GPA while attending classes and working a full-time schedule of 40-50 hours per week, plans to earn a specialized certification in computer technology and pursue a bachelor’s degree at the University of Houston.

“I would tell anyone thinking about signing up for the Weekend College to go for it,” said Garza, who will receive an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer and Network Maintenance Technology. “You get to know your fellow students and instructors in a way you wouldn’t if you were in a more traditional program.”

The tight, close-knit bond shared by the students, instructors and staff is part of what makes the Weekend College so special. Grant director Victoria Marron encouraged the graduates to stay in touch with each other and their Lee College family as they continue into the next phases of their lives and careers.

“I’m full of thanks, appreciation and reflection,” Marron said. “Creating a program from scratch is no easy task and it takes a village to come together. When you get this degree and walk across that stage, take a moment and look around you. You’ve defeated so many odds and all your cheerleaders have been there to support you. Know that we support you and encourage you still.”

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.

Completion Coach motivates Weekend College students to persist to graduation

Jessica Falla, Weekend College Completion Coach
Jessica Falla, Completion Coach for the Weekend College at Lee College, counsels a student during a session in her office. The Completion Coach works with Weekend College students to offer support and help break down barriers they encounter before enrolling in the program and through graduation. A free information session about the Weekend College is set for Thursday, April 13.

BAYTOWN, TX — As a community college graduate who took developmental classes, commuted to her Queens, N.Y., campus and juggled schoolwork with caring for her grandmother, Jessica Falla is especially well suited for her role as the Completion Coach for Lee College’s innovative Weekend College program.

Whenever a Weekend College student needs help with a problem inside or outside of the classroom, Falla is only a phone call, text message, email or visit away — and many students credit the consistent, warm and knowledgeable support of their Completion Coach for motivating them to conquer challenges and persist toward their degree.

“The common ground is that everyone is filled to the brim with responsibilities. No one can be just a college student; they have all of these roles they play that have to remain intact even while they go to school,” said Falla, who holds a Master of Education degree in school counseling.

“I understand what it’s like being pulled in so many different directions, and I was always grateful for the personal interactions I had with staff and counselors when I was in college,” she said. “I want students to walk into my office and feel they can relax and open up. Whatever barrier they’re facing, I take it on with them and we will overcome it together.”

Weekend College students can earn associate’s degrees in less than 2 years by attending classes only on Friday evenings and Saturdays. Funded through a $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the program caters to adult learners and others who want to advance their careers but have to balance classes with work and other responsibilities.

A free information session for prospective Weekend College students will be held from 7-8:30 p.m., Thursday, April 13, in the Rundell Hall Conference Center on campus. Faculty, staff and current students will outline the five different majors offered — Transfer in Allied Health, General Studies – Social Science Concentration, Business Administration and Management, Industrial Welding Technology and Computer and Network Maintenance Technology — and give details about enrolling for the Fall 2017 semester. Information will be available in English and Spanish, and refreshments will be provided.

Additional information sessions are set for May 21, June 10, July 18 and Aug. 2.

Weekend College students are kept together in small cohorts of 18-25 people from enrollment to graduation or transfer. Courses are offered at multiple Lee College locations to make them more convenient, and many are delivered in a hybrid format that blends online and classroom instruction. With block scheduling, students know exactly which courses to take and when they will be held — and once accepted into the program, they are guaranteed to always have the classes they need for their degree.

For her part as Completion Coach, Falla considers herself to be a student advocate. She regularly drops by classes and makes herself available on Fridays, Saturdays and any day students need her. She helps them decide if the Weekend College is the right fit for their goals; connects them to campus and community resources; invites them to bring their children and families to college events; and breaks down the parts of applying for and attending college that overwhelm them the most.

It’s also important to encourage students to take ownership of their education and be accountable for their own learning and success, said Falla, who enjoys being a role model and trusted adviser as they pursue higher education and work toward a brighter future.

“I get to know these students for two years and watch them graduate,” she said. “We’re very lucky to see them grow, adjust and reach their reward. It’s a great and wonderful experience.”

For more details about the Weekend College at Lee College or the upcoming information sessions, contact Falla at 281.425.6421 or Outreach and Recruitment Specialist Sharon Guillory at 832.556.5776, or visit www.lee.edu/weekend.

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 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Weekend College gives working students time to pursue degree

Free information session on Feb. 23 will detail unique program that caters to adult learners

Two welders working on a project
Industrial Welding Technology is one of five degree program options that students can choose from in the Weekend College at Lee College, which is hosting a free information session on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, in the Rundell Hall Conference Center on campus. Additional program options include General Studies Transfer degrees in Allied Health and Social Science Concentration, Business Administration and Management and Computer and Network Maintenance Technology.

BAYTOWN, TX — As a mother of four working full time to support her family, Raquel Velazquez didn’t think she would ever be able to go back to school and earn the college degree she always wanted. Then she learned about the Weekend College at Lee College.

Through the Weekend College, students earn associate’s degrees in less than 2 years by attending classes only on Friday evenings and Saturdays. Funded through a $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the program caters to adult learners and others who want to advance their careers but have to juggle school with work and other responsibilities.

The first of several free information sessions for prospective Weekend College students will be held from 7-8:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 23,  in the Rundell Hall Conference Center on campus. Participants will hear from faculty, staff and current students about the five different program options – General Studies -Transfer in Allied Health, General Studies – Social Science Concentration, Business Administration and Management, Industrial Welding Technology and Computer and Network Maintenance Technology – and learn how to enroll in the program for the Fall 2017 semester. Information will be available in both English and Spanish, and refreshments will be provided.

Additional information sessions will be held March 4, April 13, May 21, June 10, July 18 and Aug. 2.

“It sounded like it was going to work for me,” said Velazquez, who picked up a flyer about the Weekend College while helping her daughter register for classes. She entered the program just as her son and daughter were getting started at Lee College and will be the first of them to graduate, earning an Associate of Applied Science degree in Business Administration and Management in May.

Of the first cohort of students to enroll in the Weekend College in Fall 2015, fully 65 percent are expected to complete their degree programs within three years or less – significantly more than the state average of 12 percent.

Grant director Victoria Marron attributes the high success rate to the unique design of the Weekend College program. The same groups of 18-25 students are kept together from enrollment to graduation or transfer. Courses are offered at multiple Lee College locations to make them more convenient, and many are delivered in a hybrid format that blends online and classroom instruction. Block scheduling ensures students know exactly which courses to take and when they will be held, and Weekend College courses are never dropped or filled to capacity. Once accepted into the program, students will always have the classes they need for their degree.

Weekend College students work with a completion coach who helps them apply for the program, secure financial aid and conquer any challenges that arise while they are enrolled in school and even after graduation. They also receive personalized advising, financial assistance and round-the-clock tutoring as needed.

Initially “terrified” to return to school and unsure how she would make time for everything on her lengthy to-do list, Velazquez said she  now encourages others to consider the Weekend College. Having guaranteed classes and a cohort of classmates with whom she has forged strong connections make completing the program easier than she expected.

“Looking back on it, it just happens; time just flies and everything ends up working out,” Velazquez said. “What I tell people is that if I can find the time, you can find the time. If I can do it, you can do it. Ask questions, contact a counselor, get all the information you can and see if it’s a good fit for you.”

For more details about the Weekend College at Lee College or the upcoming information sessions, contact Completion Coach Jessica Falla at 281.425.6421 or Outreach and Recruitment Specialist Sharon Guillory at 832.556.5776, or visit www.lee.edu/weekend.

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 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Weekend College still enrolling students for fall

Free info session on July 26 will include more details about program for adult learners

BAYTOWN, TX — When Cathy Graham made the decision to enroll in the Weekend College at Lee College, she was tired of being a secretary and eager to embark on a new career path — but also a little apprehensive about returning to the classroom after many years away.

Graham’s journey in the Weekend College, in which students earn associate’s degrees in less than 2 years by attending classes only on Friday evenings and Saturdays, has been better than she could have imagined. In her very first class in the Computer and Network Maintenance Technology program, she learned how to build a computer from scratch; now, even coworkers in her department at NASA come to her for help troubleshooting their machines. She marvels at how much she has learned so quickly.

“When we started this, we never thought that in a year and 9 months we’d be graduating,” said Graham, a grandmother of three and long-time Baytonian who will walk across the stage in May to receive her Associate of Applied Science degree. “I didn’t believe it at first, but our instructors knew. They are our cheerleaders. I learned to start trusting.”

Funded through a $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the Weekend College is designed for adult learners and those juggling work, school and other responsibilities. A free information session about the program will be held from 7-8:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 26, in the Rundell Hall Conference Center on campus. Faculty, staff and students will provide more details about enrollment for the Fall 2016 semester, share experiences and answer questions. Free food and refreshments will be provided.

Weekend College students can choose from five different Associate of Art and Associate of Applied Science degree program options: Industrial Welding Technology, Computer and Network Maintenance Technology, Business Administration and Management, Transfer Allied Health and General Studies – Social Science. The program uses a cohort model that keeps the same groups of students together from enrollment to graduation or transfer, and class sizes average just 18-25 students.

Through 3-week and 8-week bridge courses, Weekend College students are able to move more quickly from developmental classes into credit classes. Classes are offered at multiple Lee College locations to enhance convenience and flexibility, and many are delivered in a hybrid format that blends online and classroom instruction. Weekend College courses are never dropped; once accepted into the program, students will always have the courses they need for their degree.

Students in the Weekend College also receive personalized advising, financial assistance and tutoring offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A completion coach provides assistance with the application process, financial aid and registration, and continues to help students through each semester until graduation or transfer.

The overwhelming support of her Weekend College instructors and classmates helped calm Graham’s initial fears about going back to school, and has kept her motivated to succeed. She looks forward to completing her associate’s degree and moving on to her bachelor’s and master’s — and feels confident her Weekend College family will always be there to cheer her on as she pursues a career in information systems and security.

“You have to commit yourself and your time to the program,” Graham said. “Believe in yourself and don’t give up; never give up. The Weekend College has been a great experience that I am so glad I’ve had.”

For more about Lee College’s Weekend College or the July 26 information session, contact Completion Coach Jessica Falla at 281.425.6421 or visit www.lee.edu/weekend.

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 center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit

Free info sessions on Weekend College set for July 20 & 26

Students in program earn associate’s degrees by taking classes Fridays and Saturdays only

BAYTOWN, TX – Adult learners and those juggling work, school and other responsibilities can learn more this month about Lee College’s Weekend College, a specially designed program that allows students to earn an associate’s degree in less than two years by taking classes only on Friday evenings and Saturdays.

The Weekend College will host open information sessions from 7-8:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 20, and Tuesday, July 26, in the Rundell Hall Conference Center on campus. Faculty, staff and students will provide more details about the program and enrollment for the fall 2016 semester, share their experiences and answer questions. Free food and refreshments will be provided.

Weekend College students can choose from five different Associate of Art and Associate of Applied Science degree program options: Welding Technology, Computer and Network Maintenance Technology, Business, General Transfer Allied Health and General Transfer Social Science. The program uses a cohort model that keeps the same groups of students together from enrollment to graduation or transfer, and class sizes average just 18-25 students.

Through three-week and eight-week bridge courses, Weekend College students are able to move more quickly from developmental classes into credit classes. Classes are offered at multiple Lee College locations to enhance convenience, and many are delivered in a hybrid format that blends online and classroom instruction. Weekend College courses are never dropped; once accepted into the program, students will always have the courses they need for their degree.

Students in the Weekend College also receive personalized advising, financial assistance and tutoring offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A completion coach provides assistance with the application process, financial aid and registration, and continues to help students through each semester until graduation or transfer.

The Weekend College is funded through a $2.7 million First in the World Grant awarded to Lee College by the U.S. Department of Education. For more about the program or the upcoming information sessions, contact Completion Coach Jessica Falla at 281.425.6421 or visit www.lee.edu/weekend.

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 center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

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.