LBW enrollment up in 2014

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 15, 2014

LBW students Jennifer Botta and T.J. Bess take a break to play Ping Pong between classes Tuesday on the Andalusia campus.

LBW students Jennifer Botta and T.J. Bess take a break to play Ping Pong between classes Tuesday on the Andalusia campus.

Enrollment at Lurleen B. Wallace Community College is on the rise, and students on Andalusia’s campus say they aren’t surprised.

“I’m really glad I chose to come here,” Darryl Shephard, a student from Crenshaw County, said. “I came because of the Aikido martial arts class Dr. (Herb) Riedel teaches. It’s a hard martial art to find. I’ve been doing if for four years.”

Emily Ricks said she chose LBW for a slightly different reason, but is also glad she picked the school.

“My parents made me come,” Ricks said, laughing. “I wanted to go to a four-year school, and they were like, ‘No, you’re going to LBW.’”

Ricks said it turned out her parents knew best.

“The teachers here actually do care,” she said. “They care if you pass or fail your classes, and they will do whatever they can to help you.”

Michael Peacock, a first-year student from Andalusia, said he chose LBW because of the monetary advantages.

“I’m saving a lot of money by coming here,” he said. “I can stay in the dorms and be close to home, but also have my independence.”

Peacock said LBW offers the best of both worlds, with the small classes that come with a two-year school, but also courses that bigger schools typically offer, such as the martial arts program that drew Shephard.

“I take Aikido with Darryl,” he said.

The trio said it is a combination of all of these factors, that makes LBW a great place to go to school, and the numbers suggest that message is spreading.

According to Riedel, who is also the president of LBWCC, enrollment is improving.

“Enrollment for spring 2014 is where we were expecting it to be and holding steady,” Riedel said. “After being down five percent in the fall, spring enrollment is currently 1,479 college-wide, which is slightly less than two percent lower that the same time last year. This is a relative improvement and points to increased retention of students.”

Shephard said LBW’s programs have certainly retained his enrollment as a student.

“I have gotten two associates degrees,” he said. “I’m majoring in computer science. I have degrees in art and applied sciences/drafting and design.”

Shephard said he does plan to use his foundation from LBW at a four-year school, adding UCLA would be his first choice.

Peacock, an English and language arts major, said he plans to eventually transfer to Troy, while Ricks said she plans to join the workforce after graduation.