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Measure E Funds Help Prepare Modesto Junior College Students for the Future 

Measure E Funds Help Prepare
Modesto Junior College Students for the Future

By Jenifer Aries

Since 2004, the skylines of Modesto Junior College’s East and West campuses have been rapidly changing. With the passage of Measure E, an essential educational funding package, voters placed their trust in the Yosemite Community College District to implement plans for the future needs of the community with construction of several new buildings and full-scale renovation of others.

Ag Center for Education Pavilion

Agricultural Center for Education
Photographs Courtesy of David Todd

While the structures have brought modernization to the college, it is what’s happening inside the buildings that will bring long-lasting benefits and growth to the community. A walk through any of the new buildings reveals fresh interiors, new furniture and state-of-the-art equipment. More than that, the visitor feels a sense of excitement — a buzz radiates through the facilities as teaching and learning are taking place. From classroom lectures in the Allied Health building to hands-on work with animals in the Agriculture Center for Education (ACE) Pavilion, the faculty and staff’s commitment to the students and community is evident. We open the doors to four of MJC’s newest facilities and invite you inside to experience the dynamic things happening in the classrooms and labs. We hope you’ll share in our excitement for the future of MJC, its students, faculty, staff and the community.

Agriculture Programs

One of MJC’s most important instructional areas continues to be agriculture technology. For decades, MJC has led the way in Agriculture Business, Agriculture Sales and Service, Animal Science, Crop Science, Dairy Science, Poultry Science, Soil Science, Environmental Horticultural Science, Mechanized Agriculture and Veterinarian Technician. The new ACE Pavilion gives these programs a leg up and includes an advanced laboratory facility that offers students fantastic opportunities for hands-on learning.

“The diverse array of agriculture activities held in the facility has exposed more students to the industry as a whole,” said Mark Anglin, Dean of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. “This has resulted in greater opportunity for education, more highly trained, prospective employees for the County’s workforce and future enrollment in the program.”

Science Community Center

Science Community Center
Photographs Courtesy of David Todd, MJC

A Focus on Science

With a national focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, MJC’s new Science Community Center on the West Campus is poised to offer students greater opportunities to advance in these fields, as well. “Our goal is for the Science Community Center to be the go-to destination for science education in our area,” said Brian Sanders, Dean of Science, Mathematics and Engineering.

A 107-seat planetarium, an observatory with a 28-inch telescope and an innovative six-foot-diameter Science-on-a-Sphere display provide cutting-edge technology for students to study geology, climate change and outer space. Chemistry and microbiology labs provide hands-on learning experiences for students, working with the same state-of-the-art equipment and processes they will encounter at larger universities or in the workplace.

The Science Community Center will also be the new home of the Great Valley Museum. Its displays and live animal room will provide life science and natural history students with an impressive new learning laboratory. Biology classes will visit the museum to examine models of riparian and grassland ecosystems, migratory birds, native fish, tule elk and other local animals. The community will also be welcomed into the Great Valley Museum with open arms. “We want schoolchildren to come fall in love with science and return to us as college freshmen for the first steps in their journey to becoming scientists,” Sanders said. The new Great Valley Museum will continue its nearly forty-year mission of science outreach and literacy throughout Stanislaus County.

In the next phase of Measure E programs, the previous science building on the East Campus will be remodeled to house computer and social science programs.

Allied Health Building

Allied Health Building
Photographs Courtesy of David Todd, MJC

The Future of Health Care Education

With the completion of the West Campus Allied Health building, MJC nursing and health students are even more prepared to enter the workforce as they learn in a brand-new, simulated hospital environment. “The College’s allied health programs keep pace with the rapid development of technology and industry processes,” said Patrick Bettencourt, Dean of Allied Health, Family/Consumer Science. “Our partnerships with industry employers benefit our students with the latest in healthcare research, technology and patient care processes. In return, we are educating the County’s healthcare workforce.”

National and statewide employment databases show the fastest growing occupations are in the allied health industry. MJC enjoys a reputation for educating many of the county’s registered nurses and healthcare industry employees. The College also boasts one of the few state nursing programs that provides a mannequin that can be elevated allowing students to easily see an instructor demonstrate hands-on assessments, such as the correct placement of a stethoscope for assessing heart sounds. The new high-tech mannequins simulate the human body providing life-like scenarios that prepare students for clinical practice. The building also has a new 24-bed skills lab that provides students time and space to practice their skills on mannequins or each other to prepare for skills assessment.

Performing and Media Arts Center, MJC

Performing and Media Arts Center
Photographs Courtesy of David Todd, MJC

Advancing the Arts

At MJC, the critical balance to allied health, agriculture and science are the fine and performing arts. Two well-known celebrities found their passion in the arts while attending school here; both George Lucas and Jeremy Renner have credited MJC with helping them discover their life’s direction. The MJC Auditorium is the hub of the Performing and Media Arts Center, and the Center provides a state-of-the-art home for students who study digital and performing arts with facilities on par with some of the largest universities in the country. Classroom and workspaces include the 794-seat auditorium, a 74-seat Little Theatre, a dance studio, audio recording and television studios and costume and scenery production studios. Students are able to perform at their highest level in professional facilities designed to showcase each of their individual talents. The facilities were engineered to allow for the utmost quality in acoustic performance and were designed to model the facilities students will encounter in today’s workplace.

“The College’s vision was to provide the finest educational performing arts facility in the County and we believe we’ve accomplished this,” said Mike Sundquist, Dean of Arts, Humanities and Communication. “The Arts at MJC have long been a hub of the community and this new facility takes the faculty, staff, student and community member experience to a much higher level.”

According to MJC President Jill Stearns, all of these projects are focused on one thing: providing essential support to students and the community. “The renovation and construction projects funded by Measure E provide facilities that support today’s instructional technology, are expandable to incorporate the technology of tomorrow and greatly enhance our energy efficiency. MJC has served the greater Modesto region since 1921 and I’m very pleased with the state-of-the-art instructional spaces that will serve the community for the next fifty years.”

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