Imagine taking a test after you haven’t eaten for two days or missing a class because you don’t have child care. Many students face unique challenges outside of the classroom that impact their academic success. This fall, ACC opened newly expanded student centers — pulled together in a single location to provide students with a one-stop shop that can help address these challenges. The centers include:
- Student Welcome Center: Designed for future, new, and current Riverbats and their families to explore the college’s programs & get 1-on-1 guidance and learn about free support services.
- Student Care Center: A hub for life support whether that’s access to food or a connection to community resources, including housing, transportation, legal aid, family support, and more.
- Student Life Center: Designed for students and provides a place to socialize, study, attend events, and find their passions from intramural sports to student clubs.
On Monday, October 16, ACC’s new chancellor, Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart, joined a group of students to tour the new facilities at ACC Highland Campus. Along the tour, students shared their experiences and discussed their personal challenges. Media also were invited to join the tour.
“70% of our students are living in some kind of financial need. Just going to college isn’t what it used to be. It isn’t about sitting in your high school counselor’s office and submitting a one-page application — it is far more complicated,” says Dr. Lowery-Hart. “Spaces like the Student Care Center and the Welcome Center are a reflection of what can happen when you don’t just listen to the student voice but you empower and respond to it.”
ACC’s Student Welcome Center is literally at the front door of the college — you can’t miss it when you walk into Highland’s Building 1000 from the east parking lot. With sliding glass walls, a cafe, a presentation room, and quiet spaces, the space invites future, new, and current students and their families to explore the college’s programs and support services.
The space is also home to the new Parent & Family Engagement Office, designed to help educate parents and other important family members in a student’s life about what their student needs to succeed in college.
ACC’s Student Care Center, across the hall from the Welcome Center, is designed to look like a store, but it is more than a place where students can pick up groceries and grab a snack or a prepared meal. The Care Center is a hub to connect students to college and community resources, including housing, transportation, legal aid, family support, and more. Faculty and staff in need may also utilize the center.
“I have never heard of a school offering as much as we are with the other care centers, but especially here. Someone can come in here and shop. I thought that was astronomical. I thought that was just so cool. I know how difficult it can be to be a student,” says Brianna Butler, ACC student and Student Care Center employee.
The Student Care Center held a soft opening on Tuesday, September 12, when it received the first shipment of nine pallets of food from our partners at the Central Texas Food Bank. The delivery included pallets of fresh potatoes, carrots, corn, watermelon, bread, whole frozen chickens, and hamburger meat. About 1,500 students picked up food in the first 30 days.
The new Student Life Center is designed for students as a place to socialize, study, attend events, and find their passions from intramural sports to student clubs.
“Everything affects how we work academically. Everything in our lives will affect how we are as students. If a college isn’t really paying attention to what we need we can decline,” says Butler.
The student support centers at Highland are among the first of more to be built across the district.
“The needs that our students have here at Highland are the same needs that our students have at every one of our campuses. The challenge and the opportunity is how do we build care centers and welcome centers and every student experience on every campus. It may look different, it may be executed differently, but every student and every campus deserves to have the same kinds of support that we saw here at Highland,” says Dr. Lowery-Hart.
A ribbon-cutting for the new student centers is planned for spring 2024.
Learn more about the centers here.
View a slideshow of the tour below.