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From accounting to Zumba, there’s a class for pretty nearly any subject at Southeast Community College in Beatrice.

That diversity is a big part of what people who attend and work at the college like so much about it.

Attracting a student base from around Nebraska, the United States and even globally, SCC Beatrice is a pivotal place when making career decisions for many of the students who attend.

Offering coursework at a fraction of what a four-year university would charge, and smaller class sizes were a big draw for Audrey Day, who is working toward entering the nursing program at SCC Beatrice.

Day, who comes from Kimball, Neb. in the southwestern portion of the panhandle, said that she decided to come to Beatrice after an SCC representative came to her school to talk with her class.

“It's small enough that you get that one-on-one time with your professors and instructors,” she said. “It's cost efficient, too. That really helps a lot.”

Day said she’ll be working on getting her registered nursing licence at SCC before moving on to get a bachelor's degree from University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Lora Young, executive director of the Beatrice Chamber of Commerce, said that while having a cost-effective alternative to the four-year university system is appealing to local students, SCC brings in a lot of people from out of town, which can add to the workforce potential of Beatrice.

“I think one of the best assets of having Southeast Community College here is the fact that we do have an educational institution that does bring people in from out of the area,” she said. “Some of those individuals are coming from out of the state and out of the country, introducing Beatrice to potential new residents and new employers.”

While the community college is a great way to launch students into their college careers, SCC also offers a chance for students to get started before they even graduate high school, said Beatrice High School Principal Jason Sutter.

A large percentage of BHS graduates choose SCC, Sutter said. Sometimes those students choose the Lincoln or Milford campuses, but oftentimes it’s SCC Beatrice where they get their start. For some of them, the agricultural program is the biggest draw. Others intend to transfer later to a four-year school, and some are working on an associates degree before moving into a career at a Beatrice business or manufacturer, he said.

“That's been a new focus for our school, more so than when I first became principal,” Sutter said. “We were saying we want kids to go to college, but I think our focus was more on four-year universities.”

Some BHS students are currently working to build a house with local contractors and subcontractors, and are able to earn credits at SCC while they do. There are career academy programs that work with students interested in certain fields and Sutter hopes there will be dual credit classes available for Beatrice High School students in the future.

Working closely with NGage, Beatrice High School students have the chance to get a firsthand look at various opportunities around Beatrice in manufacturing and commerce.

Hannah Hall came from Scandia, Kan. to study agriculture at SCC Beatrice. With a population of about 375 people, Scandia is a small town, and Hall was used to going to a small school. That level of tight-knit closeness between students is what drew her to Beatrice, she said, and it’s been an opportunity to get to know her fellow students and instructors.

“They say when you go to college that your teachers don't care if you show up,” Hall said. “These teachers actually care about you. They know if you're gone, they ask if you're sick or why you're not going to be there that day. They make sure that you're going to succeed in their classes. They care about success and preparing you for wherever you're going next.”

Getting students ready for life after high school is something Sutter is passionate about. Whether they’re heading for college or going straight into the workforce after they graduate, he wants to make sure that students are leaving Beatrice High School prepared.

The opportunities provided by SCC are a big part of that, Sutter said. With many of their students getting hands-on vocational training in partnership with SCC Beatrice, they’re ready to work, and a lot of them receive job offers and stay in the community they call home.

“To have that educational opportunity in our own home town and our own kids here in Beatrice is something we value,” Sutter said.

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