Doug Ernst

Napa Valley Register columnist Doug Ernst.

As Napa Valley College begins its 75th year, this may be a timely opportunity to reflect on how higher education improves our community.

The college is fueled by public servants – faculty, classified staff and administrators – who see themselves as part of a team, working together to help the people of Napa Valley improve their families, careers and communities.

Over the past 74 years, programs and people have changed, but the overall mission of the college is basically the same.

Fundamentally, it’s always been a place where people come to improve their lives, through:

Self-Discovery. Students tend to find themselves when they are exposed to an almost unlimited number of occupations, contributions, purposes, commitments, achievements and desired results.

Planning. Students chart a course for the future, set reachable goals and even dream a little. With the help of college counselors and program developers, students can see a logical progression toward success in life. It’s the job of the community college to help students acquire vision.

Progress. Students who graduate from a community college with certificates or diplomas often gain the confidence they need to take the next step.

Advancement. Community college graduates who know what they want in life and have a plan to get it are in high demand among universities and state colleges.

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Training. Career Technical Education courses generate certificate-holders who often get right to work as welders, machine tool makers, winemakers, psychiatric technicians, nurses and accountants.

Alumni. Workers in our community who credit Napa Valley College for getting them started in life are some of the college’s most effective spokespersons. They are proud of their community college years and eager to recommend NVC to friends and relatives.

Giving. Some of the greatest supporters of the college have reached a milestone in life when they want to give back to the community that helped them grow up. That’s how the Napa Valley College Foundation serves philanthropists looking to support education.

Economics. Thousands of former students currently employed in the county workforce added $268 million in income to Napa County in fiscal year 2013-14, equivalent to 3,372 new jobs, according to an independent 2016 study by Economic Modeling Specialists International.

That year, the college payroll and expenses added $31.7 million, much of which was spent in Napa County on groceries, clothing and other household goods and services, equivalent to 582 new jobs.

Students that year spent $4.5 million in Napa County, equivalent to 58 new jobs.

Added up, that’s an economic boost to Napa County of $304.2 million in one year, equivalent to 4,012 new jobs and 3.5 percent of the Gross Regional Product.

Bottom line: Napa Valley College is not simply good for students, their parents, local businesses and donors. It’s good for the whole community.

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Doug Ernst is the Napa Valley College public information officer. Reach him at DErnst@napavalley.edu or (707) 256-7112.