More than 10 years after starting its purchase of Highland Mall, Austin Community College is celebrating its biggest milestone to date. The bulk of the capital city’s first indoor shopping mall has been transformed into a regional hub for higher education, collaboration, and workforce training. 

ACC hosts a community-wide grand opening celebration from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 23. The open house will offer interactive studio tours, faculty demonstrations, tours of ACC’s world-class culinary kitchens, exhibits in ACC’s art galleries, student performances, and more.

We invited students on a special tour to take a look at the learning spaces they have never seen before. This is what they had to say.  

Jessica D., Music Business, Performance & Technology student
Jessica D. is a former Austin ISD science teacher making a career change. She started the Music Business, Performance & Technology program in summer 2021 with virtual classes and is currently taking two classes at the Highland Campus.

“I remember when it used to be a mall and where stores like Hot Topic used to be, so coming to Highland is a fun journey for me. I can’t begin to describe how amazing the space has turned out with all the hands-on spaces available to students in all the programs. The MBPT program in particular is really unique and special and it’s a rare opportunity where you can work with musicians and audio engineers and everyone is learning and it is super collaborative — to me, it’s an ideal situation for learning.”

Melanie C., Computer-Aided Design student
Melanie C. is a lifelong Austinite, a student in ACC’s Career Scholars program, and a Computer Aided Design student.

“It’s got the wow factor. Everything is so new, smells new, and all the state-of-the-art equipment — it was beyond my expectations. From the outside, it doesn’t look like anything but when you get inside, it’s like wow. The transformation — it’s really cool to see the change and I like how it’s reused materials from the mall. I really like the studios — dance, music, recording — they blew me away because they are really professional. This is not your typical community college where you go just for your basics. Your education is going to be hands-on and you get the feel for what it’s going to be like on the job — this is the place to do it.”

Malia C., Nursing student
Malia C. has worked in a hospital for 14 years on the business side. She wanted to become a nurse because she loves talking to patients and wants to learn to be an advocate for them. She graduates in May with her associate degree in Nursing and hopes to return in the fall for the RN-to-BSN program.

“Everything here is high-tech. It is a great space for us to learn — you have everything here and you learn all the skills in a safe place. It gets you prepared for the real world and makes it realistic for us when we got into the hospitals for clinicals.” 

We encourage all Riverbats to invite family, friends, and neighbors to see for themselves what’s happening at Highland during the Community Open House.

ACC Highland Community Grand Opening 
Saturday, April 23 | 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. 
Visit to RSVP.

Employees also are invited to the special ACC Highland VIP Reception and Ribbon-Cutting Event 
Friday, April 22 | 9:30 – 11 a.m.