Blinn College’s top degree programs may cover the gamut when it comes to curriculum, but leaders in these successful programs all agree that Blinn’s reputation for graduating students well-equipped for careers boils down to hiring employees who serve students above other interests.
Between December 2009 and August 2011, Blinn College awarded associate degrees to 1,627 graduates. Of those, more than half came from just four degree plans – general biology, general business, general studies and registered nursing. These four programs combined to graduate 829 students over six semesters, helping those students transfer to a four-year university or immediately enter the workforce with a coveted Blinn College degree in hand.
Between 2009 and 2011, Blinn produced more general business graduates than any other degree program offered by the College – some 240 students, including a College-high 134 between December 2009 and August 2010. Those graduates have been instructed by Blinn’s veteran business faculty, many with statewide reputations for quality and more than two decades of teaching experience.
Mark Wilkening, chair of Blinn’s Division of Business, Information Technology and Public Service, said business deans at four-year universities across Texas have told him Blinn students are some of their most prepared pupils. Wilkening attributes the success of these students in part to faculty members who ensure students are taking the exact courses they need to transfer to the four-year college of their choice—including successful placements at Texas A&M University, Sam Houston State University and others.
“Our faculty is proud of that fact and works hard to ensure the quality in the classroom remains high,” Wilkening said.
General biology was Blinn’s most popular degree plan between December 2010 and August 2011, producing a College-high 121 graduates.
“Students seek to prove themselves at Blinn in order to transfer to the universities of their choice at their earliest opportunity,” said Dr. Kenneth French, chair of the Division of Natural Science on the Brenham campus. “To help them succeed, our faculty we hold them to high standards that will prepare them for university life. It’s all about having faculty who care about students being successful.”
Many of Blinn’s general biology graduates go on to become registered nurses. Others use general biology as a stepping stone to programs that will prepare them for careers as medical doctors, veterinarians, physical therapists, dentists, occupational therapists or medical technologists.
General studies is no longer considered a degree at many universities, but rather as an essential step toward choosing a field of specialty. Blinn’s general studies program includes the study of writing theory and practice, mass communication, western and world literature, philosophy and modern languages such as Spanish, French, German and American Sign Language. All of these courses offer credit that may fulfill the degree requirements of upper-level institutions.
“We teach critical thinking as a springboard from past human achievements into present and future effective writing and speaking,” said Linda Bow, assistant chair of the Division of Humanities/Parallel Studies on the Bryan campus. “Our course texts and activities introduce students to deeper ways of looking at and participating in the world as it is today.”
For example, English 1301 trains students to gather factual information and identify problems and solutions. Students practice problem solving, analyzing issues and making decisions that will prepare them for real issues in a world exploding with knowledge, new communication technology and increasing global conflict. The course also teaches students vital research skills necessary for future college work.
Blinn’s registered nursing program graduated 173 students between December 2009 and August 2011 as it climbed to 1,096 graduates over the course of the program’s 22-year history. Most of those graduates are still practicing today, and two are current faculty members – Debbie Griffith (Class of 1999) and Zohreh Schuessler (Class of 1995).
More than 50 percent of Blinn’s registered nursing grads remain in Central Texas, working in hospitals, hospices, schools, industry, clinics, day surgery centers or nursing education. Many have gone on to become nurse managers, vice presidents of patient services and home health business owners.
Blinn currently has almost 200 students in its registered nursing program, which is housed in the Texas A&M Health Science Center. The facility includes offices, classrooms and high-tech simulation labs where nursing students get the highest-quality simulation experience possible.
“We have a dedicated, caring, talented faculty that works very hard with these students,” said Dr. Thena Parrott, chair of the Division of Allied Health. “We’ve been able to bump up the level of the simulations that we’re able to do, making them more realistic.
We’re taking as much pretend out of education as possible. It’s just a higher-quality educational experience for our students.”