In the very beginning, and this was a part
of the election process, we talked about multiple campuses, and we wanted to get it as close
to people as we possibly could. We didn’t want to have one big institution that was
trying to serve the community. We realized that if the community was going to be served,
it had to have educational resources close to home. When the college voted bonds, or
the community voted bonds, to build this college in 1965, I was teaching at North Side High
School, and I was good friends with a man downtown named Lee Goodman who was president
of the Downtown Fort Worth Association. I told him that day, “I want to teach at Tarrant
County Junior College.” Well, you know, the purpose of all community colleges statutorily
in Texas is to do remediation and vocational training. That’s the reason they were created.
Certainly, Mr. Rushing was a pivotal influence. He gave the college its start, so to speak.
He introduced Tarrant County College. Actually, it was during the first years of its existence,
I guess, back in ’67, ’68, I was a student, one of the new students, at the new campus,
and I enjoyed being involved with the new opportunity because I really did not know
if I was going to go to college or not. So, my first experience was at the South campus
here. And it was called Tarrant County Junior College at that time. We were the pioneers
for Tarrant County College, and we had great deal of freedom, of academic freedom. It was
in the 60’s, and people thought in a variety of ways and that was permissible and considered
good. I’m a native of Fort Worth, and I remember when the first campus opened. I graduated
from high school in ’68, and it opened in ’65 with Chancellor Rushing, whose daughter
was a friend of mine. And I’ve been to TCC and so has my husband and my children all
went here. Saved us major bucks, and in the last 50 years, they’ve just done an incredible
job. People can learn nearly anything at the community college. Well, I think the first
thing that the college did was they got the support of the community because I’ve always
felt like that, for the most part, Tarrant County people have really seen the value in
the college, and they’ve really support this. Tarrant County College can be described
as an extended family. I think all of my experiences with Tarrant County College, as I met new
people, and the very helpful professors that were there, made me feel like I needed to
be there and I belonged there. And I think anyone who comes to Tarrant County College
will have that same feeling. As Fort Worth has grown so has the campus, and the college
grown and Tarrant County College feels like just part of the family. It’s the next step.
I started at TCC right after high school. I went through a certification program for
respiratory care, and that really launched my career into the hospital. If it wasn’t
for TCC being there, you know, soon after I graduated high school, I really would not
be where I am today. The rapid growth, I think, can be tied back to that affordability and
accessibility component. We have five beautiful on-site campuses, another dozen or so off-site
community centers, community libraries and out at Alliance Airport, and we just recently
added TCC connect which is online distance learning. The reason I’ve stayed here at
the community college is because, it’s just, you can have such an impact on people’s
lives to make their lives better. We welcome everybody. We don’t care where you are,
who you are, we welcome you. A person can come here and do their first
two years of school. But the thing that comes home to you is if they didn’t have that
community college available to them, they might not be able to start the journey.
Greatness, and the greatness is spread across the whole community and it gets into places
that you normally wouldn’t think it would get to. So it’s been tremendous growth and
I like the things I see that this institution has done.
You know, this is their 50th Anniversary. The purpose at Tarrant County College has
morphed in the last 50 years. But their real purpose is to provide a quality level of education,
but also to help us at the city provide a great workforce and workforce development
for our businesses so that the city continues to grow. And the college has done an excellent
job at doing that. The purpose of TCC, Tarrant County College, is to provide access and opportunity
for students particularly in Tarrant County. It is a neighborhood. It is a part of the
neighborhood. I believe that if someone had never heard of Tarrant County College before,
it – the best way to describe it – it is a neighborhood. It’s a neighbor. Education
is traditionally been the ladder up enough for generations of Americans. To me, it is
at the heart of the American dream. TCC has expanded its role within the community,
and while it still stays to that basic purpose, I think it takes on many roles in community
now. I would describe Tarrant County College as an opportunity to seek higher education
or to gain gainful employment to teach you how to not make a minimum wage and to be able
to support your family and to also payback to the community. We have a partnership with
Tarrant County College, and that is to form our early college high school program, TEA,
the Texas Education Agency, authorized that last year so we have inaugurated 54 freshmen
in Everman High School and they are also receiving dual credit through TCC Connect and will ultimately
go to TCC South to get their Associate’s degree. We’re very excited about it. Our
mantra at the chamber is economics and education, and when we look at those two things, we think
that’s what we’ll liberate a lot of constituency. This college has a lot of educational themes
that turn into economic opportunities. I think Tarrant County College is integral to the
success of our entire community, not just in one city but working all together. Tarrant
County College has really infused themselves throughout every aspect of life throughout
the community and all of Tarrant County so we’re really proud to be a part of it. The
fire academy offers just a wide array of training for firefighters- whether it’s paid or volunteer-they
are able to go out and do scenario-based training and I don’t know where anywhere else that
you could do that. Partnerships in the community are immensely important. It gives a whole
new meaning to the words: It takes a village. TCJC, Tarrant County Junior College, graduated
from being a junior college to a community college, Tarrant County College, of course,
and I’m surprised at all of the different outlets and campuses they have around town.
And more surprising yet is that each one of them are full to capacity. Thinking of the
fact that they are celebrating their 50th Anniversary makes you realize how much they
have grown, how they now do so much more than I think anyone originally thought. It was
more originally like a neighborhood campus that served maybe a small number of students.
Now it’s really seen as a development for employers, it develops our future workforce,
they have expanded into very niche services like healthcare and aviation, way beyond what
was originally dreamed, I think. The future for higher education is very exciting indeed
because what we’re doing now is we’re looking at workforce needs.
It takes a community to educate a person or to make sure that they succeed so by seeing
all that is happening in our community and seeing the students that come just walking
in through these doors, and their hunger to succeed and get their education, I think,
we’re meeting our mission and our vision through Tarrant County College.
When I first came to TCC years ago, we got about 75%, let’s say, of our funding from
the state, and today we have less than 30%. This is the challenge that we have in terms
of what we’re going to look at in the future because everybody in education is hurting
for money, and so the vision is there. The question is are we going to be able to have
the nerve to jump off that cliff, so to speak, to carry out that vision. Because it cost.
An education in this country has to be lifelong because there is so much technology, there
is so much change in our society today, that if we don’t have an institution that people
can pluck back into, whatever their age, whatever their need then we’re going to fall behind.
As we move forward into the future, the Energy Technology Center at TCC South is going to
be a vibrant, a central part of our community and it’s going to be a fabulous facility
that will put more success within reach. Success within reach.
Success within reach. Success within reach.
It is appropriate for us to pause and say thank you community, thank you students, and
a very special thanks to you faculty and staff for the wonderful gifts that you have given
to Tarrant County College District so that we may serve our students. Your support translates
into great knowledge for our students who in turn give that knowledge back to our community.