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HUNTINGTON PARK : Classes to Start at ELAC Satellite

January 16, 1994|MARY HELEN BERG

Bent over a table, her two children beside her, Elizabeth Uriarte carefully filled out a college application.

A few hours earlier, she had no idea that she would be registering for classes in business administration and real estate. But when the mail arrived with a flyer announcing the opening of the East Los Angeles College satellite in town, she dashed to 2677 Zoe Ave. to sign up.

Unemployed for five years, Uriarte, 31, sees higher education as her best bet to rejoin the work force.

"It's the perfect time to open this (satellite) here," said Uriarte, who was last employed as a receptionist in a doctors' office. "It's really helping me out. I really needed something because I was at a dead-end. This is great."

Uriarte had tried to take classes elsewhere, but like other students attracted to the satellite campus, she said the long bus ride to other schools made it too difficult to schedule classes. Now she lives just two blocks from school.

Classes at the new campus start Tuesday, just five months after Huntington Park Mayor Ric Loya publicly proposed the idea. After a rocky start, the proposal gained support from state officials and surrounding cities, received $100,000 in start-up funds from East Los Angeles College and has six months free rent in the Pacific Bell building.

In a city where 70% of all adults have not finished high school, the new campus can help residents work toward a new future, Loya said.

"This is the most exciting thing I've seen in this community in 22 years," Loya said. "Education is the key."

About 57,000 flyers were mailed throughout the Southeast area to generate interest. Six hundred phone calls flooded the admissions office and about 187 students applied during the first five days of registration. Once news about the satellite campus spreads further, the site will serve from 700 to 1,500 students, officials said.

So far, most registrants are women who are trying to break into the job market and need to update their skills, said Olga Dominguez-Gary, college counselor.

The Huntington Park campus currently offers 32 courses, including classes in accounting and business, child development, health, mathematics, real estate, political science and Spanish. Classes cost $13 per credit and most credits can be transferred to four-year state schools.

The new campus also offers a five-semester curriculum that allows students who are employed full time to meet general education requirements through night classes once a week and some weekend and video classes.

Classes in English as a Second Language and citizenship will be offered free. Courses will be expanded to include computer classes and other subjects, based on demand, in upcoming semesters, officials said.

"We hope we will have an East Los Angeles College Southeast campus that would have every service and the same type of classes that we offer here" at the main campus, said Herman Bacchus, dean of academic affairs.

The school could also prove something of an economic boon to Huntington Park.

Bookstores, copy shops and other businesses may spring up near the new campus, which is just a block east of Pacific Boulevard, the city's main downtown shopping street, Loya said. Existing businesses should also benefit--students represent potential consumers.

"The students have to do their shopping somewhere," said Jack Wong, Community Development director. "They have to get their lunch and buy their pencils somewhere."

Gloria Ripke, 27, of Cudahy, who had been attending classes in Long Beach, said studying at the satellite will help her feel more connected to her community.

"If they tried to shut it down now, I'd be the first to protest," Ripke said.

Formal registration ended last week, but students can still register by going to classes and making arrangements with instructors.

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