While thousands of children returned to their campuses for the first day of school Monday, two local colleges also started classes for the fall semester.

Central Texas College welcomed back just more than 6,000 registered students to its Killeen campus Monday.

For some of those students, like Quinlan Cisco of Killeen, the day not only marked the first day of the fall semester, but the first day of college, period.

“I really love it,” said Cisco, who graduated from Ellison High School in June. “You have a lot more freedom and independence.”

Cisco, who is studying biology and wants to be a nurse, said she hopes to eventually attend Baylor University.

“My goals for this year are to really be focused on my goals,” she said.

As Cisco begins her time as a college student at CTC, Bianca Nickleberry is hoping to finish hers and transfer to Texas A&M University-Central Texas.

Nickleberry, who is studying to become a teacher, is also the vice president of the college’s student government association. Nickleberry was on hand Monday to promote the association, which she said helped her find her voice as a student.

“When I have a question or a suggestion, I really feel like my voice gets heard,” Nickleberry said. “I have really gotten to meet a lot of great people though (the association).”

Texas A&M-Central Texas also started classes Monday. According to current data from officials, the university’s fall enrollment stands at 2,423. That number includes 1,752 undergraduate and 671 graduate students.

“I took classes over the summer, so it’s not too hard to jump back into things,” Shakima Lourick said.

Lourick, who is studying to be a social worker, said the challenges of attending college were easier with a good friend.

“I would say you should find a battle buddy,” Lourick said. “Someone who will challenge you to press beyond your limits and achieve your goals, and you can do the same for them.”

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

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