DAILY ADVERTISER – Gov. John Bel Edwards walked around hospital beds and took mannequins’ pulses in a nursing simulation lab; he dropped in on Early College Academy’s orientation to talk to high school seniors; and he visited the Center for Minority Excellence that aims to help under-served students succeed.
All of this he packed into an hour Friday, walking the halls of South Louisiana Community College with Chancellor Natalie Harder and meeting students and instructors along the way.
“This is how we create opportunity and prosperity in Louisiana for more people,” Edwards said about such programs at SLCC and across the state. “… This is how we bring in economic development projects.”
Nursing lab coordinator Graciana Breaux showed the governor the high-fidelity mannequins that blink and speak as they sit in a mock-hospital room where SLCC nursing students practice.
This is where students try, make mistakes, reflect on what they could do differently and try again, she explained.
“It’s good that it’s happening here” and not in a hospital, Breaux said.
Students call the second floor of the Health and Sciences Building the “virtual hospital,” as it features simulation rooms for maternal, pediatrics, home health and more.
“This is as realistic of experience they have before the touch a real human being,” said Lana Fontenot, vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement.
Then Edwards joined high school seniors and some parents at orientation.
“I hope you’re as excited as I am for you,” he told the auditorium of young faces. “… The best time to start higher education is right after high school, except you’ve already started.”
He called Early College Academy, which enrolls more than 250 Lafayette Parish School System students, a “model for the future.”
He later said the school is what stood out most to him during his visit and that he hopes the model can be replicated across the state.
The final stop of Friday’s tour was the Center for Minority Excellence, which is funded through a multi-million-dollar federal grant to help African-American students.
The school is entering the fourth year of the five-year Predominantly Black Institution grant.
SLCC was the first school in Louisiana to host the grant, which aims to increase enrollment, retention, transfer and college completion rates of African-American students specifically.
It has led to the creation of a center where students can receive tutoring, help in financial literacy and computer skills, and more — all free for the student. Staff are there to guide students from enrollment to completion, program manager Tonya Bolden-Ball said.
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