River Parishes Community College celebrates campus’ first official graduating class

Graduation is always a time for celebration – and especially so in the case of the 2024 graduates of River Parishes Community College in Boutte.

After all, there can only be one first class of graduates. 

Twenty-six P-techs and 19 instrumentation techs comprise the first official class to graduate from the St. Charles Parish campus. To commemorate the event, RPCC held a pre-graduation breakfast and a career fair for the students, the latter providing the opportunity to speak to industry representatives and set the wheels in motion to put their new skills into action. 

“We wanted to do something special, with this being the first official class,” said Penelope Shumaker, RPCC Campus Director. “We had a little get-together with United Way. They gave some Amazon gift cards to the students. Then we had some guest speakers, and after (breakfast) we had our industry partners here to sit down and talk with (the students).”

The career fair portion was put together for the event after Shumaker got feedback from the campus’ students. Shumaker asked what they might like for the event, and the idea of a career fair was popular.

“It was something they asked for,” said Shumaker. “We always have two career fairs a year. This one, though, was by reservation only and only for those graduating. So as a result, they got a lot more one-on-one time. The students were excited for that.”

Likewise, Shumaker said, the industry representatives were quite pleased as well to see a large graduating class of prospects. 

“Several of them are looking at starting internships for future students and those kinds of things – they’re excited about what we’re doing here,” said Shumaker. 

John Dias of United Way and RPCC Quintin Taylor each spoke at the event. 

Shumaker said a few words as well.

“I told them, five to ten years from now, y’all need to come back and teach,” she said, adding the students would be missed after being there for the past two years and four semesters. 

The majority of students attend RPCC following graduation from the parish’s school system and after their time within the P-tech and instrumentation program at the district’s Satellite Center. 

Each RPCC graduate earned associate’s degrees in their respective field. 

The location of the campus has been a big lift for many students who have been able to attend RPCC closer to their home – before the Boutte campus was established, local students would have to commute to Reserve for classes at the college’s St. John the Baptist Parish campus. 

The Boutte campus is a result of a partnership with River Parishes Community College in Reserve, which agreed to manage the St. Charles Parish campus if the United Way found a building. The United Way purchased a 3.9-acre site at 13143 Highway 90 for the parish’s campus location. 

The RPCC campus provides St. Charles Parish residents with a local technical and vocational school where students will be able to attain an associate’s degree in process technology or instrumentation. 

 

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