By Chris McGuinness

Killeen Daily Herald

Central Texas College hosted an event for its new students Friday, welcoming them at an orientation in the college's campus center.

The day's events included information sessions, as well as a chance to meet and greet members of the college's faculty, support staff and the various student clubs.

"(The college) was created to serve all of you," said Thomas Klincar, the college's chancellor. "I think you're going to have a great time here."

Many of the students at the orientation had recently graduated from high school and were just beginning their college careers.

"I'm really excited to start college," said Joseph Gonzalez, a recent Shoemaker High School graduate who will attend CTC in the fall. "I wanted to go to a community college and knock out my basics and get prepared for my career."

Gonzalez, who wants to study criminal justice, echoed the sentiments of many of his peers, who feel the best path to an education post-high school is to take two years of community college.

"I think this will be a good start for me," said Kimberly Upton, an 18-year-old graduate from Ellison High School who wants to enroll in the school's nursing program. "It's closer to home and the cost is lower, so it's a pretty positive thing for me."

In his speech to the soon-to-be college students, Klincar emphasized the college's low cost of tuition, which is $63 per-credit hour for in-state students, as well as the quality of education they would receive.

"You can spend 10 times as much on tuition, but you can't buy a better first-and second-year college education than right here at Central Texas College," he said.

The new student orientation was held on the last day of the college's Fast Track Finale, a free three-day program for recent high school graduates. About 80 students met their peers and future classmates, toured the campus, got information and asked questions about college life.

The college runs Fast Track as a year-around program for high school seniors in the Killeen and Copperas Cove school districts. The program helps students prepare for college and navigate the college application and admissions processes.

"It can be overwhelming for some students coming into college," said Gisela Santana, a CTC student mentor who works with students at Ellison High School as part of the program. "Most of them don't know what they need to be doing to qualify and apply for college classes and financial aid, so we are there to listen to them and facilitate that process."

Upton, who participated in the program's finale event, said the three days she spent learning about what to expect as a community college student was a helpful experience.

"It's helpful to get to know people, and who I can go to if I have questions once school starts," she said. "I definitely feel prepared and I'm ready to jump right in."

Contact Chris McGuinness at or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.

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