After a year of holding most of their classes virtually, Central Texas College (CTC) is ready to return to normal holding most of their upcoming fall classes face to face.

To celebrate and show the community everything they have to offer, CTC held a massive open house event.

The open house started at 9 a.m. and went until about 2 p.m. and was free and open to potential students, current students, alumni, and anyone with an interest in checking out the campus. In addition to tours and information, they also offered a variety of fun activities, food, and shows for families to enjoy.

“We are trying to let the community know we are open, we are ready to serve, and we want to help them,” said Julie Starkey, Dean for Student Success and Persistence about why CTC decided to hold the open house. “We are helping people get registered, we are helping them get admitted, we are introducing them to our academic programs, we’re having fun. We’re doing a little bit of everything.”

Starkey said that since the pandemic shut everything down, the vast majority of classes were held online.

The college is now returning to face-to-face options and want to show the community that they are open and to showcase everything that the school has to offer.

The event kicked off with a big opening session with more than 200 attendees which welcomed guests, and gave a brief overview about their academic programs, paying for college with an emphasis on the various financial aid and grants available to students, student services, dual credit, and how to apply for college. Offices were open to help students with all of this and more throughout the duration of the event.

They offered tours of various departments including business classes, culinary classes, radio station, the math department, literature department, automotive department, police academy, welding, aviation classes, and a lot more with something available to everyone.

Simon Hemby and his mother attended the open house and were excited to be able to get a tour of the welding facilities. Hemby was particularly excited to be given a chance to watch the instructor, Jeremiah Edwards, give a mini welding demonstration before allowing Hemby to try his own hand at welding.

“So far I like it and I’m interested, especially in the two methods of welding—TIG and Stick welding,” said Simon Hemby. “Right now, there’s a good chance that I’m going to go here.”

Several police officers were on hand at the open house to support the event and possibly even recruit as well. The Killeen police department, CTC police department, 178th/226th Military Police Detachment, Fort Hood Special Reaction Team, and more were on hand at the event. They even had a special demonstration by the canine unit during the event.

“We’re out here. We wanted to support this and we’re also recruiting and seeing if anyone is interested. We’ve had a lot of foot traffic and questions…We definitely have to look at the next generation,” said Wilson Lopez, a recruiter for the Killeen Police Department. “People who are bettering themselves are the ones who are going to better the community later. Rather than staying at home and maybe watching tv, these people are out here getting information and trying to better themselves.”

One of the big demonstrations by the officers was a canine demonstration. They also showed off their various vehicles and answered any questions that people may have had.

For families, CTC offered a variety of shows at the Mayborn Science Theater. There were various fun activities for families and kids including a bounce house, selfie station, gaming and origami with the math department, a climbing wall, kid’s games with the child development center, an escape room and scavenger hunt, and a lot more.

For alumni, they had an ice cream social from 1 p.m. until 2 p.m. For everyone else, they offered a free hot dog lunch starting at 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., free ice cream while it lasted, and, after each culinary demonstration, audiences were allowed to taste the final products.

“We had a nice turnout and a high volume of people trying to get information,” said Chef Ramona Lezo. She said that several of their students led culinary demonstrations throughout the open house. “I had a blast. It was really good getting to interact with everyone and get to know them a little bit and letting people know what we have to offer…Letting them see the area that they’ll get to work in was a real big plus.”

Mariceli Vargas, Director for Student Life and Activities, headed the committee that made the open house a reality and was excited at how successful the event was. Their main goal was letting everyone know that they are opening back up.

“We pretty much shut down during the pandemic, but now we’re coming back full force, and we really wanted to show off our campus, let people know that we are here, and if anyone needs any last-minute help then we can help them out,” said Vargas. “We wanted to let people know that we’re here, we’re happy to have you here, and we’re happy to help you at any moment.”

Vargas said that CTC is a great opportunity for the community as they are a very affordable opportunity for higher education and that, with more than 100 different degree options, they have a huge variety of classes available.

“We have a lot to offer,” said Vargas. “We really have something for everyone.”