Owensboro Community & Technical College is hopeful to fill new positions that were made possible through a $2.091 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education the school receive in early October.

U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie's office announced in early October OCTC received the grant, which has a goal of increasing the number of students who participate in the college's experiential education program, E3@OCTC, and also increase the number of academic programs that offer some form of internship experience.

The funds are through the federal education department's "Strengthening Institutions" grant program.

Through the program, OCTC has opened up five new positions, four of which they are currently hiring for: director of program facilitation, experiential learning opportunity center coordinator, two ELO success coaches, and an administrative assistant.

Andrea Borregard, OCTC dean of student affairs, said these positions all aim toward the common goal of helping students be successful.

The experiential programming already in place at the school, including the work and learn models like GO FAME, GO CAREERS, and TECH X, have been a huge success, Borregard said, so it's clear they are working.

"This can change the nature of the game," Borregard said of the grant allocation and the focus on more experiential learning.

The funds will also be used to promote the program to students and to recruit organizations that could provide internships. The program does have a goal of having 60% of students participating in an internship over five years. Currently, 24% of OCTC students take part in some kind of internship.

Scott Williams, OCTC president, said internships "better prepare students for the workforce."

"It's not new to higher education. We do have those and have students that take advantage of them," Williams said. The grant "allows us to expand both on-campus and off-campus" internship opportunities, he said.

In a press release, Guthrie said, "I am proud to announce that OCTC has received this competitive grant to expand its E3@OCTC program. Every student learns differently, and experiential learning opportunities give students the chance to get out of the classroom and learn in a new way. This grant is a great opportunity for OCTC to help Kentucky students learn, and I look forward to seeing the results of the expanded E3@OCTC program."

To learn more information about the E3@OCTC programs, or to view the job listings, visit owensboro.kctcs.edu.

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315.

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