Charles Dyer Jr. has juggled work and family while making the trek from Banning to San Jacinto for the past couple of years to earn a degree from Mt. San Jacinto College.
On Tuesday, Dyer’s journey to earn a degree literally got shorter. MSJC’s San Gorgonio Pass Campus located in Banning opened for classes with the start of the Spring semester.
“This is lovely,” Dyer, 31, said looking around the new campus on Sunset and Westward avenues. “I don’t have to travel far now. The majority of my classes are here (at the Pass campus), so it’s convenient.”
Dyer was among the 530 students who enrolled this semester at the Pass campus. Of the 902 seats available at MSJC’s newest campus, 840 were already filled.
A total of 15, 473 unduplicated students were enrolled at MSJC across the district, which stretches from the Pass to Temecula. Ninety-two percent of the seats district-wide were taken and 95 percent of online classes were full.
The Pass campus offers students the opportunity to complete general education requirements, complete a pattern of courses in order to transfer to four-year universities, and work on Career and Technical Education certificates and degrees like Administration of Justice and Child Development.
Diana Western, 48, said she drove from her Chino home to get into the math class she needed to get into Cal Poly Pomona. Other math classes were full, she said.
She and Nathan Atchison, 18, were the first students to find a seat in the first class held on the campus: Algebra.
The two students were asked to hoist the flag during a morning celebration that became an unofficial opening for the campus.
MSJC Board President Eugene “Gene” Kadow and Dr. Roger Schultz, MSJC Superintendent/President welcomed students and visitors that had arrived to witness the first day of classes at the new campus. They also introduced Mike Rose, one of the college’s first employees and current MSJC counselor. The three expressed gratitude for the communities and the partnerships formed to bring the campus to the Pass. The new MSJC campus is serving a critical need for higher education in the Pass.
Visitors included MSJC Trustees Ann Motte and Dorothy McGargill; Banning Mayor Barbara Hanna and council members Bob Botts, John Machisic and Don Robinson; Don Smith, former Banning mayor; Banning Police Chief Leonard Purvis; Beaumont Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kathy Munyas; Banning resident Chuck Braswell; Ronna Kadow; Banning Chamber board President Ron Duncan; Carlos Lopez, MSJC Dean of Instruction; Becky Elam, Vice President of Business Services; Russ Bogh, of Bogh Construction; Kathy Donnell, executive assistant to the MSJC Superintendent/President.