WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Students returned to classes at Cape Fear Community College Friday for the start of a new academic year. More than 9,000 students have registered this semester.
Some of those students, like Lia Davis, already have college degrees.
Davis is beginning her final year in the nursing program. After working in hotel management for more than a decade, the 31 year old decided to switch careers, from hospitality to healthcare.
"I always say that my only talent is that I'm really friendly, so nursing gives me the opportunity to bring light to people who are hurting and sick and could really use encouragement," she said.
Like many students, Davis applied to the nursing program several times before being accepted. Nearly 800 people are waiting to enroll in high-demand health fields at CFCC.
Now that she's been admitted to the program, Davis is focused on graduating in May 2014.
"It's definitely the hardest thing I've done," she said.
Davis already graduated from UNCW with a bachelor's degree in philosophy and religion.
CFCC officials say older students are the new normal. The average age of students at the college is 33.
A surge in students several years ago led to an expansion at CFCC. The college's Union Station building opened this week to help meet the demand. The 250,000 square-foot facility in downtown Wilmington includes a simulated hospital and operating room, important features for healthcare employers who seek job-ready graduates.
"It's our job as a community college to stay in tune with employers and with industry to make sure that we're teaching the skills that they need in an employee," said David Hardin, CFCC director of marketing and public relations.
In addition to the college's healthcare programs, college transfer and many job training classes are at capacity, according to CFCC.
The college has also seen increased interest in its real estate program, a sign of confidence for a major industry in the Wilmington region.
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