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Getting Ready for the Workplace: Starting at EMCC

By Kelley MacDonald
fire fighters

Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) makes getting a job in the professional world possible. The college offers degrees and certificates in the occupational areas of Nursing, Business, Culinary Studies, Administration of Justice, Fire Science, Power Plant Technology, Teacher Education, Speech Language Pathology, Programming, Networking, Multimedia, Interior Design, and Computer Science.

“The purpose of occupational courses is to allow students to gain knowledge, insight and hands-on training in a particular career field,” says Heather Weber, the Dean of Occupational Education. “Both the Certificates and Associates of Applied Sciences degree are typically career oriented and designed to give the student knowledge about a specific career field that is needed to enter the workforce upon completion of the degree.”

Occupational courses are part of either a Certificate of Completion (CCL) or an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree. Students who choose to go for the AAS degree have the opportunity to transfer to a four-year university upon graduation. Up to 90 credits can be transferred to NAU, and a student can complete a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies.

Students may choose to take the route of the Certificate of Completion (CCL), which gives them the proper skills for the career of their choice, without completing the general education requirements. As a recognized credential, the CCL helps students enter employment.

One of the popular programs EMCC offers is Culinary Studies. “We are the only accredited Culinary Program in the West Valley that focuses on training students who wish to become professional chefs and cooks,” says Steve Griffiths, the Program Director of Culinary Studies. “The majority of our classes are conducted in a professional kitchen and in the campus restaurant, providing practical work experience. Students have the opportunity to cook with hundreds of different ingredients, and they are able to taste and develop their palate towards several different foods and types of cuisine.”

Along with the degree in Culinary Studies and the Certificate in Culinary Studies, EMCC offers a certificate in Baking and Pastry. The degree in this field is also quite affordable. The total cost of the degree is under $8,000.

Culinary student Mashauna Jelevich is enthusiastic about her growing culinary skills. She recently won the Caballero’s “Top Chef” scholarship. Jelevich said, “We have exceptional instructors for all the classes.  All the instructors have ample knowledge in the field that they teach and have decades of knowledge to share through instruction. I feel lucky to be a student here.”

EMCC is also home to The SouthWest Skill Center, which has been training students for careers since 2000. It offers programs in the areas of Distribution Logistics, Emergency Medical Technology, Industrial Electronics Technology, Medical Assistant, Medical Billing and Coding, Nurse Assistant, Phlebotomy, Practical Nurse, and Spanish Medical Interpreter. These programs are specifically designed to take students from the classroom to the workplace.