Lamar State Collage Port Arthur welcomes Vista students after college’s abrupt closure

Published 11:30 pm Friday, October 22, 2021

The sudden, unexpected closure of Vista College left many students shocked and without an immediate plan for the future.

That’s when Lamar State College Port Arthur stepped up to help by offering options to those who qualify.

Karita Elia is one of the former Vista students.

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The Beaumont woman quit her job to start school in August as a medical assistant student. She, along with others, received a text message and email notifying her all Vista Colleges permanently closed Oct. 8.

She said everything seemed fine and didn’t detect any financial issues with the college.

The institution, she said, pulled her grant money for tuition the same day it closed down.

“I was generally appalled,” Elia said of her reaction to finding out the college closed unexpectedly.

Karita Elia, a former Vista student, is set to begin studies at LSCPA. (Courtesy photo)

She didn’t know what to do at first, then LSCPA and Lamar Institute of Technology announced students could go there and finish the medical assistant program. Elia chose LSCPA because of the plan in place.

Lamar State College Port Arthur, along with Region 5 Education Service Center and Workface Solutions Southeast Texas, got together and met with interested displaced students and made plans.

Elia, who has a 2-year-old child, will begin coursework Monday and, hopefully, gradate in the spring.

Her long-term goal is to further her education in the medical field.

“I was thinking of maybe going back to school for radiology,” she said. “I don’t want to be a nurse but something around it. I love the medical field. I want to advance in the medical field.”

READ MORE: Lamar State College Port Arthur surprises students with $944 financial boost.

Ben Stafford, vice president for Workforce and Continuing Education, said there are nine students who are taking part in the certified clinical medical assistant program at LSCPA.

That’s where Region 5 stepped in with an Adult Education and Literacy grant that allows the college to work with students who may need remediation when it comes to reading, writing or comprehension abilities.

This, in turn, allows the school to provide training to get the students to the same level as different institutions may offer different coursework.

Shirley MacNeil, LSCPA Allied Health Department chair, said they are trying to help as many students as they can and are currently working with 18 licensed vocational nurse students from Vista.

There is strict criteria for the program that must meet Texas Board of Nursing requirements. One of those is a 10 student-to-1 faculty member ratio. So there is a limit to the number of students that can be accepted. The new students will be working on a modified capstone and upon completion of their work will be able to take the licensed vocational nurse licensure.

MacNeil said she is proud and blessed to be part of an institution that pulled together in an attempt to help as many students as possible.