On August 26, the bell will ring over a new dawn for higher education in Aldine with the opening of Lone Star College – East Aldine Center. Construction is continuing apace on the campus at East Aldine Town Center, where students will be able to both earn college credits to transfer over to other schools or complete vocational workforce programs that will enable them to obtain professional certifications and join the skilled workforce in as little as a year, all at an affordable price.
LSC-EA’s dean is Dr. Luis Alfredo Lucio. Himself a native of Aldine and a graduate of MacArthur High School, Lucio launched his career in education right out of high school, when he worked as a paraprofessional, or classroom assistant, at Aldine’s Gus A. Oleson Elementary School. After graduating from Sam Houston State University with a bachelor of arts in academic studies with concentrations in bilingual education and Spanish, Lucio went on to get his Master’s from the same school in education in educational leadership with a concentration in school administration. (Along the way Lucio also banged out some core credits at Lone Star College — North Harris County.) From there it was on to the University of Houston, where Lucio earned his doctorate in education in educational leadership.
Lucio’s professional CV includes stints as a senior recruiter for teacher recruitment and talent acquisition for HISD, a position he filled while simultaneously serving as an adjunct professor of bilingual-dual language education at the University of St. Thomas. Before that, Lucio was principal of Aldine’s Inez Carroll Elementary.
A hometown boy with a bilingual background, years of educational experience, and two advanced degrees? Sounds like the right man for the job. Via email, we asked Lucio a few questions as he prepares for his, and the school’s, first semester of classes.
EAMD: Does your experience in dual-language / bilingual education help you at EA LSC?
Lucio: I feel that knowing the primary language of the community definitely is an advantage to being the Dean of the new center. It has been my experience that parents and community members are more apt to ask questions, seek clarification etc. in their home language. I also feel that dual language education is very important because it promotes and values not only the first language but also the student’s home culture. Students that are bilingual and biliterate may have many possibilities for advancement in their careers. I am glad that I am able to promote being bilingual.
EAMD: I have read that you had intentions of becoming an EMT before you went into education. Odd question, but are there any similarities between the two careers?
Lucio: I always wanted to help people, and sometimes life steers us in the direction where we will make a greater impact. I think that this is what happened to me as I switched majors to education. As a paraprofessional, I immediately knew I wanted to be an educator.
EAMD: Are there any unique challenges to being dean of a college that has yet to begin classes?
Lucio: Yes, many LOL! There are many things to prepare for before opening a new building. I think the greatest challenge is working remotely and not being physically in the new building. Another challenge is being the sole employee of the center, as I cannot be at several places at the same time. I am looking forward to hiring staff very soon.
EAMD: What will this campus offer to the East Aldine community?
The Center will offer a wide selection of day and evening classes, Associate of Arts Degree (Transfer), Associate of Applied Science Degree in Welding with a variety of specialized certificates, Certificate and Associate of Applied Science Degree in Non-Destructive Testing, Computer/office skills, and Developmental Studies.
EAMD: Could you tell me a little bit about the new building? What are you most excited about?
The Lone Star College East Aldine Center will consist of two wings, an academic wing and a workforce wing
- 1st Floor: Student Services, Bookstore, 11 Offices supporting the Financial and Academic Areas, 2 General Classrooms, 2 Computer Classrooms, a Learning Center and a Testing Suite and Student Vending/Breakout Area, plus Open Seating/Collaborative & Study Areas.
- 2nd Floor: 5 General Classrooms, 3 Computer Classrooms, 1 Biology Lab, Faculty Office Suite with 5 Offices and an Adjunct Faculty Work Area, Stand-Alone Study Rooms, and Open Seating/Collaborative Areas.
- There is also a centrally located two-story Lobby between the Workforce Wing and the Academic Wing to act as the main entry and hub for circulation/collaboration.
The workforce wing is one-story and contains the following:
- 3 Classrooms
- 1 Computer Lab
- State of the Art Welding Lab
- State of the Art Non-Destructive Testing Lab
I am most excited about having college access in the community I grew up in. The town center will be a great resource to the entire Aldine community, I am so happy about all the things happening in East Aldine.
EAMD: You retweeted a tweet about how so many children of immigrants have to figure out the college admissions process on their own. I don’t think a lot of Anglos ever think of that. How can more first-generation Americans learn this process more easily?
Lucio: I can only talk from experience; I had some amazing teachers that instilled in me that I had the potential to attend college. I do not think I would be where I am today if it wasn’t for their constant nudging. Those teachers went above and beyond to speak to my mom and convince her about the value of education to benefit our family in the future. I feel that these types of educators are what make a difference in first generation college students. I want to model the value of education these wonderful teachers instilled in me to current and future generations in Aldine.
EAMD: What do schools like Lone Star have as advantages of more traditional four-year schools like UH etc., where so many kids come out with liberal arts degrees and lots of debt?
Lucio: We want our community to know that there is no reason to go into debt to get a quality education. Lone Star College is an affordable option for students, whether they want to transfer to a four-year university or head directly into the workforce. Because our tuition is so much lower, students can take more classes without taking on debt. Also, the majority of our students qualify for financial aid, and that assistance goes farther at Lone Star College than it would at a university.
We also have greater flexibility in creating programs that meet the workforce and labor needs of the communities we serve, so our students can often get credentialed for high-skill, high-wage jobs in just one year. Even those students who are interested in pursuing a university education can save themselves a lot of money by taking general education classes with us first that will transfer, and our transfer students often fare better than students who go directly to a university.
EAMD: Finally, a fun question: What is your favorite restaurant in East Aldine?
Definitely, Old Mexico on Hopper Rd. Everything on the menu is good and it’s an Aldine classic!