Pam Boehm mug

New pen and notebook paper — check. New backpack — check. New shoes — check. New dress — check.  

I remember as a child the excitement of starting back to school after the summer break. The anticipation of meeting new teachers, purchasing new school supplies and getting to pick out new school shoes was just about more excitement than I could deal with. I have fond memories of unpacking my new school supplies, a week before school, opening the packages, writing my name on each one and wishing that the big day was already here.

For recent high school graduates, entering college brings much the same eagerness, especially for first time enrollees. Thoughts such as, “What should I wear?,” “What should be my major?,” “Can I work?” all produce some anxiety, while at the same time, fear of the unknown.

For non-traditional students, who have been out of school for a while, or who are coming back to college to be trained in a new field, the same anxiousness abounds.

One of the treasures found at Hill College is the array of caring, compassionate and dedicated advisors, staff and faculty who are awaiting these new arrivals. Much like the students, we (the staff) are just as excited to meet the new and returning students as they are to meet us. After the long summer days, we are thrilled to see students filling our academic halls, coming in with questions and enthusiasm about their futures. It gives us a sense of family to get to know new names and faces, but more importantly, it ensures us once again that we, the Hill College family, are the hopes and dreams for so many — this is food for the soul and why we do what we do.

My own educational journey mimics that of many of our students. As a first-generation college student, neither one of my parents went to college. I remember these same feelings of excitement, while at the same time anticipation and stress of “Can I do this?” As a non-traditional student with small children, I came back for retraining after starting a family. With much apprehension, something stirred within me to keep pursuing my dream. I began taking one course at a time, while working full time. Then I became a full-time student while working full time; this is where I learned perseverance while working full time and going to school full time as well as being a full-time mother.

I gained the skills and abilities needed to prepare me for university level work. I got tough, I learned the art of time management, scheduling and the importance of putting my children first before my school work. As president of Hill College, I, along with my staff, share in these personal journeys with our students. If I could do this, YOU can too.

At Hill College, our treasure chests are full of opportunities just waiting for a student to find them — advising staff that is equipped with the latest degree plans and career information tools to help the student decide what major to pursue. Our success centers have tools on how to study, how to manage time and financial aid resources. Services such as free tutoring, note taking and study skills assistance are accessible and available for all students. One of our greatest assets are our faculty, who are back from the summer term, delighted to greet new faces, answer questions and ready to serve YOU, the student. YOU are our most valued treasure of all.

This fall, students will arrive on our Johnson County campus and at the downtown Cleburne Technical Center to find a thriving atmosphere with a new look, new signage and new partnerships. We have spent the summer renovating our administration building with YOU, the student, in mind. In an effort to create a more welcoming and student-friendly environment, our Student Information Services area will have a fresh appearance, allowing more privacy for students. Our business office has moved to a new area, creating more seating for students and families. We have equipped the campus with new signage, giving students easy navigation in finding needed departments.

Gems such as expanding our 10 articulation agreements with major universities in Texas, as well as expansion of our partnership with Texas Tech University on campus, are designed for a seamless transfer of students from our community college to the university. The Johnson County campus is the official home of the Texas Tech-Hill College Regional site, equipped with a part-time advisor five days per week, as well as new face-to-face and online degree offerings and scholarship opportunities. Hill College students transferring to Texas Tech in Cleburne who are eligible may qualify for the Proven Achievers Scholarship and receive $6,500 per year for a total of $13,000. Some students who are eligible may qualify for the Presidential Transfer Scholarship and receive $2,250 per year for a total of $9,000. These scholarship opportunities make earning a bachelor’s degree extremely affordable for our Hill College students. An upcoming opportunity is a new partnership with our neighbor and friend, Southwestern Adventist University.

Another one of our treasures at Hill College is our dual-credit partnerships with local school districts, which have been enhanced to include additional technical dual credit offerings, as well as traditional academic courses. In an effort to create more opportunities for ALL students, I am humbled and pleased to be able to award the eight ISDs in our Johnson County taxing district with $10,000 each to be applied to helping underserved students in their districts with expanded dual credit opportunities.

Treasures come in all forms. At Hill College, it is YOU, the student, who is our most valued treasure. We are proud to be a part of Johnson County, serving as YOUR community college.

Hill College degree or certification — check. Graduation complete — check.

Dr. Pam Boehm is

president of Hill College

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