Paramedic and nursing students from the Mat-Su campus of the University of Alaska Anchorage will soon have access to new opportunities in the form of a large-scale expansion to the existing Snodgrass Hall.
On May 23 Borough Mayor Larry DeVilbiss officially cut the ribbon for the construction of the $3.5 million addition to the Mat-Su campus. The ribbon cutting ceremony was witnessed by staff and students alike as construction officially started on the expansion.
The addition, funded by a number of state bonds, will benefit the campus’ nursing and paramedic programs by increasing the program’s capacity for enrollment, thus providing shorter waiting lists for prospective students. The facility will offer more space for classrooms and support rooms for the two programs.
According to Assistant Professor of Paramedic Technology Kathy Griffin, the new addition will also contain a state of the art simulated ambulance bay that will allow students the chance to learn in a realistic setting.
“This expansion really brings us to the forefront of EMS education,” stated Griffin. “Our first concern is meeting student needs, and our job is to provide the quality paramedics that the community deserves.”
The location of the Mat-Su campus is particularly beneficial to the nursing and paramedic programs due to the close proximity to the Mat-Su Regional hospital, which will provide students with hands-on, real world training. Mat-Su Regional has partnered with the nursing program in the past and can be expected to work in tandem with the paramedic program in the future.
Griffin explained, “Our main goal has been to strengthen the connection between the nursing and paramedic programs. This new expansion definitely furthers that goal.”
In addition to expanding opportunities for Mat-Su students, this move has additional benefits for UAA students who commute or transfer from the surrounding area. Many students from the Mat-Su area may choose to attend the local campus before transferring to Anchorage in an effort to cut housing costs, so the expanded paramedic and nursing programs will help those students lower expenses.
Mat-Su student Stefan Marty spoke very highly of the plan and expressed his appreciation for the expansion.
“This addition is a huge help to students like me who cut costs by attending classes at the local campus,” said Marty. “This opens up more options for local students who may feel limited by educational costs.”
Marty, who attends both the Anchorage and Mat-Su campuses, says that expanding the scope of the nursing and paramedic programs allows students to save money by attending local classes before transferring to Anchorage. He applauded the decision to expand and said that the addition will help local students to maintain low transportation costs while pursuing a quality education.
Mat-Su College Director Talis Colberg expressed his approval of the addition and noted the significance for students from the Mat-Su area.
“The expansion should be of great benefit to UAA nursing students from Mat-Su. Those already in the current contingent of eight based out here will have a better facility,” said Colberg. “Once complete, the plan is to add a second contingent of eight more nursing students who will also benefit from the improved structure, because it will enable them to avoid the commute.”
Current Mat-Su student Karli Dreyer echoed Director Colberg’s excitement regarding the addition and voiced her approval of the decision.
“The new expansion will not only help the growth of campus but will help relieve the stress on commuter students,” said Dreyer. “With more classes and variety being added every year at the Mat-Su campus, this addition will make it easier to take upper division courses without the drive to Anchorage.”
Dreyer, who plans to transfer to the Anchorage campus in the fall, says that Mat-Su has provided her with many opportunities to cut costs and is appreciative of the new addition.
“As a UAA student who finds it easier to live in the valley, I think that this is a big step towards having more of an option in location of our education,” said Dreyer.
Construction on the Snodgrass Hall expansion is expected to continue through the fall of this year with the possibility of an operational facility by the spring of 2013. Students of both the Anchorage and Mat-Su campuses are excited about the prospect of new educational opportunities.
“Any time the University makes a decision that directly benefits students, it’s a good call in my book,” said Marty.