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‘If I can do it, you can do it too!’: COCC’s Adult Basic Skills program expands to meet the region’s growing need

(Update: Adding video, comments from dean, student)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Central Oregon Community College has been busy expanding their Adult Basic Skills program and is now able to help nearly twice as many students achieve their goals as just a year ago. 

“This is a program that really tries to help older students. So if you’re sitting wishing you had your GED or you’re wanting to go back to college, the adult basic skills program is a great place to start.” COCC's Instructional Outreach Dean Cindy Lenhart said.

Since the program was not meeting federal standards, some funding was cut last year. Now it is meeting those standards, spreading across several locations and offering 13 classes this fall. 

“We’ve expanded out into our outlying areas such as Redmond, Madras and Prineville," Lenhart said. "We’ve been there already, but we’ve increased. We have a new GED class in Warm Springs and we have also increased those integrated education training classes.”

The program has also seen a jump in student enrollment.

"We've almost doubled our numbers since last year," Lenhart said.

The Adult Basic Skills program offers students English Language Learner classes, GED preparation courses and other Integrated Education & Training courses. 

The program has helped students like Leslie Estrada Burgos, who wants to pursue a career in health.

She was unable to graduate high school because she had to help her single mother raise five of her younger siblings. Now, Burgos has a child of her own. 

“What motivated me is that I have a little one of my own, and I wanted to be a role model and go back to my career goal.” Burgos said. 

She enrolled in the program’s Health Career Bridge class, and now works at St. Charles Bend.

“I used to say I couldn't do it. I don't have time. I have kiddos. I have to be working at home, doing chores and such," Burgos said. "But it is such a big achievement, and I like to say, I like to think of my story as, 'If I can do it, you can do it, too!'” 

More information about the program is available at

Article Topic Follows: Education

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Jillian Fortner

Jillian Fortner is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jillian here.


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