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Expanding Estrella Hall

By Jessica Stewart
Expansion of Estrella Hall

Since beginning my educational journey at Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC), I have seen the campus undergo much advancement, the most recent being the newly completed Estrella Hall North.

In the old Information Commons, I always felt that when sitting next to someone I was invading that person’s personal space and vice versa. This was something that made me hesitant to use the computers there. The new, larger space feels quieter and more comfortable to me.

The new space features 18 state-of-the-art learning studios and seven remodeled classrooms specifically designated for computer courses. The new building expands several preexisting areas, such as the Library, the Learning Enhancement Center, and Information Commons. It is divided into a north and south region. Each space has been carefully crafted to deliver a student oriented, engaging environment, while supporting different learning styles.

The study rooms offer a place for students to study individually or to meet for group work. The study rooms have expanded to 14 rooms, compared to six in the old building. Some learning tools included in these rooms are updated computers, desks to spread out on, whiteboards for visual thinking, and a TV so students can practice presenting on something other than small computer screens. Teamwork and peer collaboration are encouraged and facilitated by these group friendly set-ups, as well as the many group-seating arrangements around the building.

The top half of the building houses faculty offices and student computers. The expansion has also allowed for increased tutoring services with the opening of the Academic Success Center/Tutoring which includes “Math Success,” “Science Success,” “Writing Success,” and “Reading, Languages and Occupational Success.”

According to Rodica Heinz, the Director of Academic Success Center, the purpose of the remodeled building is to have all academic support centrally located for the students.

Estrella Hall South has been remodeled and used as the new location for all tutoring services, which allowed the college to increase the seating in tutoring.

EMCC student, John Cox, believes the expansion of Estrella Hall provides students with complete support: “Now that Math and Science tutoring has moved in, Estrella Hall has all the help a student could need from computer programs like Word, Photoshop, and Flash, to English, Math, Science and technical support.

“The goal of the new building was to attract students coming from developmental classes and it has worked,” said Heinz. “Students really enjoy coming here and asking for help.”

Construction on Estrella Hall began in February 2012 and has completed the third phase in the college’s campus master plan, which is constantly growing to expand student and community learning by implementing innovative learning environments.

I believe that these expansion plans reflect Estella’s commitment to continually evolving with students needs and offering continuing support in making students successful. My only regret is that these renovations didn’t take place sooner so that I could enjoy them before I transferred.