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Southwestern College committed to serving South County

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Southern San Diego County is expected to grow to more than 646,000 residents by 2020. Southwestern College, the only public institution of higher education in the region, is preparing to address the challenge of this burgeoning growth by decentralizing enrollment from its main campus in East Chula Vista and bringing education closer to the communities it serves.

In 1988, Southwestern College expanded to the south and opened the Education Center at San Ysidro. The center began offering 32 courses and serving 344 students.

Today, it offers approximately 135 sections each semester and is a place where nearly 2,000 students pursue their educational goals in search of a brighter future.

Ten years later, in 1998, the Higher Education Center (HEC) at National City opened its doors to more than 400 students who registered for one or more of the 39 classes offered at the Center.

Today, the HEC offers nearly 100 courses and serves approximately 3,000 students. The facility recently expanded, moving across the street to the new $20 million Education Village. More than 5,000 college students are expected to take advantage of the HEC's offerings at its new home.

Additionally, a new Student Services Center opened its door on the main campus in July of 2004. The $10.5 million one-stop center houses everything from admissions to veterans services and is designed to streamline operations, improve efficiency and make it easier and more convenient for students to access all services associated with the matriculation process.

Furthermore, a new $6.5 million Child Development Center will soon be opening on the western side of the main campus. The center will feature a park-like setting and be able to serve 120 children ages 3 to 5 daily.

"This growth represents our commitment to be here for the next generation," said Norma L. Hern?ndez, Southwestern College's superintendent and president. "We are here to offer hope for a better tomorrow and a secure future."

Established in 1961, Southwestern College has made the educational dreams of thousands of students a reality, while also serving the needs of the local community and being an integral part of the regional economy.

Smith is director of community and media relations at Southwestern College.

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