Opinion: Hebron Learning Center was a life-saver

Cienna Friesen, Student Reporter

HEBRON – In the summer of 2017, the Southeast Community College learning center in Hebron had its ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Ever since, it has only proved itself more and more invaluable to the community.

Also in the summer of 2017, I was just out of high school and still didn’t know what I was going to do for college, a career and life.

I felt lost and angry with a system that forced teenagers to choose a college path immediately or else risk losing financial aid.

When I learned that the learning center was opening its doors in my hometown, I saw a glimmer of hope.

The previous fall, when I was a senior in high school, my school made all seniors apply to a college. I chose SCC because it seemed the least daunting of all my options.

I had decided upon the Business Administration program because it seemed the most general, and therefore, more easily applied to different careers.

But now that it was time to choose for real, I wasn’t sure that Business Administration was what I wanted to do. It still felt too specific.

I made an appointment to talk with the learning center’s coordinator, Crystal Fangmeier.

She was enthusiastic about me trying a two-year program and cleared my worries, saying that I would be starting out with “gen eds” (General Education requirements)—courses that every college student must take, no matter the career path.

Hesitantly, I signed up for the fall quarter of 2017 with three classes—enough to qualify as a full-time student and get financial aid.

Since the learning centers are still new, most people who aren’t students don’t know how the classes are done.

For credit classes like mine, they use a setup called Zoom, where students in the learning center (usually no more than three per class) can see and hear the room in Lincoln where the class is being taught. And vice versa.

I took my Fall Quarter classes all with the help of ‘Zoom’, which I soon explained to people was basically “Skyping with a physical class in Lincoln.”

That quarter went well—I got all A’s and found that I enjoyed being part of a real class.

I was always treated like a real student, even though I was on a screen in the back of their classroom.

From then on, I took classes every quarter as a full-time student, changing from a Business Administration student to an Academic Transfer student.

Sometimes, I would have to take online classes because the credit classes offered at the learning center weren’t the ones I needed, but I’m happy to say that over half of my current credits came from classes at the learning center in Hebron.

I’ve since learned a lot about myself through the classes I’ve taken.

For example, I want to be a writer for a living and get experience with technical writing as well as the creative writing fields that I enjoy.

Now, I’m about to finish my two-year program and transfer to another state college to pursue an English (writing emphasis) degree.

Having the learning center in my hometown was a lifesaver, because I don’t think I would’ve chosen to go to college that fall, otherwise.

Even if I would’ve decided to go to college later, financial aid wouldn’t have been a guarantee.

The learning center at Hebron has proved to be one of the most successful, along with the one in York.

They not only offer credit classes—the non-credit classes offer an even broader selection to choose from: career development classes, personal interest classes, adult education classes (which offers a valuable GED program), scholarship and financial assistance, and services (such as proctoring tests, placement testing, and a connecting students to broader SCC services).

The building has only been getting busier as time has gone on, between for-credit students taking Zoom classes, GED students learning as a group, and non-credit students looking to learn how to use a computer program or paint a barn quilt.

I’m excited to see the place grow. I’ve had nothing short of a great experience at the Hebron Learning Center—lots of moments where I forgot that I was a hundred miles from my class.

Hopefully, there will be high school students taking college courses there.

Maybe the Hebron Learning Center will be a live-saver for a different senior, fresh out of high school and wondering who they’re supposed to be.