Students at West Hills College Lemoore have the opportunity for career development, thanks to the Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs available to them. The Dean of Career and Technical Education, Kris Costa works with industry professionals to develop new programs and environments for networking and professional growth.
The community college serves residents of Kern County from a variety of backgrounds and age ranges. Fifty percent of students attending the college are also working or occupying their time with outside-of-class activities. The college aims to provide abundant and accessible resources for students that are working, students that do not come from agricultural backgrounds, and students that do not have work experience.
“Most of these programs are programs that are designed to get students to work,” Costa said. “So, certificate programs that are designed to get students employment once they complete, typically, they are two-semester programs.”
These programs include an Agriculture Business Transfer Degree, an Agriculture Sales and Marketing Certificate of Achievement, and an Agriculture A.S. Degree that is currently in development. This general agriculture degree would allow students to construct their own path depending on what their career aspirations are.
The students at West Hills College often grow up around agriculture, but seldom possess the knowledge of the industry to make them successful. The number of students that have been exposed to agriculture but are completely unaware of it is a major concern for Costa and a motivating factor in the development of CTE programs to help students gain hands-on experience with various agriculture industries.
“We bring a lot of employers in to talk to students about what they do, what their job title is, how they got there, their career trajectory, and that brings in people from all walks of life,” Costa said. “We have veterans come and listen, we have people from the community come and listen, and again, it’s about having that rich conversation for students so that they’re learning from each other and they’re learning from people that have different backgrounds than them.”
Activities such as these, provide students at the community college with new perspectives and experiences to learn from and connections that could benefit their future endeavors. Students at West Hills College Lemoore have access to an abundance of career development opportunities for any career in technical or agricultural industries they could want to pursue. The local professionals and Kris Costa work tirelessly to provide these students with a better future for their professional lives.