Local Jeff State campus continues to grow

Faces of the college: Jefferson State Community College Chilton-Clanton Campus officials Julie Emmerich (left) and Ashley Kitchens have watched the campus grow both in enrollment and in the services offered to students.

Faces of the college: Jefferson State Community College Chilton-Clanton Campus officials Julie Emmerich (left) and Ashley Kitchens have watched the campus grow both in enrollment and in the services offered to students.

The Jefferson State Community College Chilton-Clanton Campus has come a long way since its humble beginnings of holding classes for about 50 students in the old McKinnon car dealership building off Highway 31 in north Clanton.

The campus will likely serve more than 500 students in the fall, compared to the enrollment of 100 when the center began in 2008.

Along with its growth, college officials take pride in the college benefitting the community and students across a wide demographic spectrum.

For students attending local high schools, Jeff State offers dual enrollment and accelerated credits.

As is expected of a community college, Jeff State is also home to students fresh out of high school who are looking to lay a foundation for a four-year degree.

But the college offers much more than that.

There are adult learners, including professionals going back to school as part of an effort to change careers. Jeff State also offers “fast track” career programs, which prepare students to enter the workforce. Some of the most popular are the dental assistant, medical billing and coding and clinical medical assistant programs.

The anchor degree program at Jeff State’s Chilton-Clanton Campus is the nursing program. The first nursing students were admitted in spring 2012 and graduated in August 2013. The second class will graduate soon.

“I think we’re a catalyst for many different types of students,” said Ashley Kitchens, campus division chair.

Kitchens and another Jefferson State Community College employee with local ties are proud of how the college provides academic opportunies for people who might not have those opportunities were it not for the college.

Kitchens came to the local campus in 2012 after having been at the college’s Jefferson campus since 2002.

“I love it here,” said Kitchens, who is from Hoover but has relatives from Verbena. “All of our teachers go above and beyond.”

Kitchens is a graduate of the University of Montevallo and the University of Alabama Birmingham, and serves as English instructor at the campus.

Coordinator Julie Emmerich started at the college in 2010 as an office manager.

Emmerich is a Verbena native and Troy University graduate. She became coordinator in 2011.

The local Jeff State campus now employs 10 full-time instructors, two full-time staff members, one full-time librarian and many more part-time employees.

“As we have grown and as we have added students, we’ve tried to meet those students’ needs,” Emmerich said.

Jefferson State Community College will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2015, and activities have been planned for the occasion.

The first Miss Jefferson State Community College Pageant will be held in December, an official preliminary to Miss Alabama, Inc.

Student organizations have been founded, such as Sigma Kappa Delta English Honor Society and ENACTUS business leadership organization. Jeff State has also sponsored a Chilton County Relay For Life team and held a canned food drive for the Chilton County Emergency Assistance Center.

The Clanton Conference and Performing Arts Center was constructed adjacent to the Jeff State campus in 2010. The facility features a 47,000-square foot exhibition hall and state-of-the-art theater.

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