AUSTIN, Texas - After more than three years of construction, Austin Community College students can now enjoy the newest features of the Highland campus.
With COVID-19 protocols in place, Phase 2 facilities opened to students this week. For the department chair of the culinary arts program, it's been a long time coming. "Close to seven years I’ve been working on the kitchen," said Stephanie Herrington.
Herrington, who has worked at ACC for more than 15 years, personally played a major role in the program’s new facilities, getting ideas from her travels to countries like Italy and France.
"I got a lot of information from other schools, and I did study abroad with students," she said. "I took the plans with me on those trips and talked to the chefs and said, ‘Can you take a look at this and see what you think?’"
On Friday, those seven years came to fruition with the program's first in-person classes taking place in the new building.
"If we didn't have to wear these masks, I’m sure everybody's mouth would be just hanging down and they wouldn't know what to say," said Herrington.
The campus sits on the old Highland Mall property, and Phase 1 opened back in 2017. Along with the culinary arts facilities, Phase 2 includes other departments like music and drama. The school takes pride in providing a practical, hands-on education in a variety of fields.
"Higher education specifically has to change in order to sustain and maintain the educational knowledge and requirements necessary to be successful," said Chancellor Richard Rhodes, who voiced excitement for "the opportunity to completely revisualize how learning takes place."
Going forward, the culinary arts program is no exception. "We've got equipment that we didn't have before that they're going to get to work with," said Herrington. "To see something on paper and then having it in person, it's a totally different thing."
Herrington said when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, the culinary arts program will also open a student-run, on-campus restaurant for the public to enjoy. To learn more about the culinary arts program, click here.