This article originally ran in the Burlington County Times on Feb. 17, 2019
Even across a diverse range of subject areas, Burlington County Institute of Technology’s adult education students and instructors agree that the coursework helps individuals to not only build upon their existing experience, but to also use it as a tool for better learning.
In a salon thick with the scent of hair dye, cosmetology student Brett Conigil, 19, styled a mannequin’s hair, practicing skills he’d seen shadowing professional stylists at the salon where he works in reception.
Surrounded by anatomical models, licensed practical nursing students Quiana Cintron, 36, and Erin Fish-Brazille, 42, prepared for exams in between rounds of clinical work.
Sam Gangel, 21, watched as her veterinary technician classmates administered intravenous fluids to a plush dog and monitored the progress of the drip. Having recently added a part-time veterinary assistant position to her work and school schedules, the Southampton resident was busy, but said the class time would help her in the field.
“It’s definitely helped already,” she said. ” … The stuff I’ve learned here has helped already in terms of (properly holding animals receiving treatment) and just getting into the veterinary field. They plan to train me as a technician, so this will definitely translate.”
Burlington County Institute of Technology’s adult education program offers a wide swath of majors, from welding technology to pet grooming. Students can study part or full time, at the campuses in Westampton or Medford. Even across a diverse range of subject areas, students and instructors agree that the coursework helps individuals to not only build upon their existing experience, but to also use it as a tool for better learning.
Glenn Harris, who teaches veterinary technician majors, said several of his students have brought in photos and stories from their jobs at pet stores, volunteerism at veterinary clinics, or hobbies like horseback riding in order to connect in-class concepts to the real world. A student who has seen first-hand a medical problem common in kittens, or who is familiar with the needs of exotic pets, can help those students who aren’t.
“I find with the adult ed, I love the way they’re so willing to contribute,” Harris said. “They’re able to really enrich the curriculum and make it their own.”
Cintron, from Runnemede, Camden County, works weekends as a technician in the intensive care unit at Cooper University Hospital and attends BCIT classes full time. With more than a decade as an emergency medical technician under her belt, as well, Cintron said she was better prepared for in-class medical jargon and for a hospital environment during clinical work.
Cintron said she chose BCIT because the tuition fit her budget, and the 11-month, full-time program fit her schedule. She feels it is more feasible to work in stages toward her goal of becoming a registered nurse because of the cost of continuing education.
“It all just fell into place,” she said.
Tuition varies from program to program, according to BCIT officials. Since BCIT’s adult education program recently earned new accreditation, its goal is to make financial aid available to students by the time fall classes begin in September.
Donna Murphy, 53, said that her dog grooming tuition at BCIT is about 70 percent less than it would be for similar programs. The Woolwich, Gloucester County, resident signed up for the program to try something new, and said it will pay off no matter what.
“If I chose to never groom a dog for money, my investment for this class would repay itself in four years just in the amount that I would save in the newly found talent to groom my own poodle,” she said. “It could actually be twice as fast for me, because I have two dogs.”
Murphy said she could’ve learned how to groom her pets from online tutorials, but that the BCIT experience was better.
“The internet could never replace the talents and the determination of the instructors to guide each and every student to a beautiful finished product each and every time,” she said. “Their patience and perseverance is quite impressive. My main reward thus far is that the program at BCIT and their instructors have taken me to a level that I could have never achieved from a book or video.”