New educational opportunities for Prinville campus

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Cedar N. Goslin
The Broadside

Suzanne Kristensen started her employment as Central Oregon Community College’s Prineville Education Coordinator on April 1. Kristensen will have a partnership with Oregon Open Campus, to open up new educational opportunities for Prineville residents.

Kristensen was previously employed as the marketing director at Brasada Ranch, but she said that she was eager to try something new, particularly something that was so beneficial to the community.

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“I was raised in Prineville and the opportunity to offer local education to our community is exciting to me,” said Kristensen.

OOC is an effort through Oregon State University to extend college education to other areas. The program is about a year old, though it’s been in the planning stages for several years.

The purpose isn’t to spread OSU classes specifically, according to Jeff Patke, an OOC coordinator, but rather to serve the community by putting coordinators in other areas needing access to education.

It is the job of those coordinators to identify the needs of the community and strive to meet them.

According to Patke, Kristensen’s work in Prineville is part of a bigger goal of the OOC to bring more educational opportunities to rural communities. Patke said that with the economy, there’s a definite need for more people to get a college education, but many citizens of Prineville are unable to travel, even to Bend, due to their jobs or responsibilities at home.

“Knowing that, we were able to forge a relationship with COCC to bring the entry level classes to Crook Country so they could take advantage and start getting their initial education,” said Patke.

Though initial education is the current goal that Kristensen is helping to work towards, she hopes that it will gradually expand beyond that while she is the campus coordinator.

“Our hope is we’ll be able to offer an associates program right here in Prineville, then eventually OSU class as well,” said Kristensen. “We’ll grow as the students’ needs grow.”

The new education building in Prineville will be finished over the summer and there will be a ribbon cutting during the Crook County fair.

Kristensen said she is excited not only because this is her first project in her new position, but also a great opportunity for the community of Prineville. Students are invited and encouraged to attend the ribbon cutting.

Cedar Goslin can be reached at Cgoslin@cocc.edu

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