Picking up the PACE

The struggle to balance work and an education is an issue that students shouldn’t need to face alone, though many do so while unknowingly missing the solution to their woes.

The Program for Accelerated College Education, (PACE) is a program offered at Pierce College that aims to gives students the ability to graduate and transfer in two years. Classes are condensed from 16-week classes into eight-week classes, with each class meeting one evening a week and every other Saturday.

José Rodriguez, an 18-year-old accounting major, is participating in the program in order to be able to both work and go to school full-time.

The program’s condensed classes give him the time to work, allowing him to make money and help support his parents.

“It helps balance out your schedule,” Rodriguez said. “It’s great to have it twice a week.”

Rodriguez recommends PACE for any students who need the extra time in their lives, for work or otherwise. The director of the program, Arthur Gillis, agrees that the program is great for working students.

Gillis has been the director of the PACE program for the past nine years. He sets the curriculum, sorts out the classrooms, gets the instructor, and solves general issues. He says the eight-week class focus is the core of the program’s success, allowing students to learn quickly and move on while still remembering their previous courses.

“We have one of the highest retention rates, highest success rates, highest graduation rates, and highest transfer rates out of all the programs at Pierce,” Gillis said. “We pay attention to our students like there’s no tomorrow.”

He encourages those interested to come to the orientations, saying that a large majority of the students who attend end up signing up to become part of the program.

Gillis says the only possible downside to the program is large class sizes – though he assures students that each and every person is taken care of and made to feel welcome despite that.

Lupita Narkevicius, a senior office assistant for PACE, does quite a bit in the program. She manages the website, takes care of phone calls and paperwork and helps students who need academic advisement or other questions related to the program answered.

“I think the program is one of the best kept secrets,” Narkevicius said. “It allows working adults to really achieve whatever higher education goals they have.”

She says some students take courses in the program to get one or two classes out of the way, but those who do are really missing out on the possible utility they could be getting out of the program.

The next orientations, which are the only prerequisite needed to join PACE, are on Nov. 25 and Dec. 2, both at 6 p.m. in the Great Hall.