Lehigh Carbon Community College: Promoting the admission of Latinos
The President of the institution talked to AL DÍA about the changes she has seen in higher education since she started being part of the institution in PA.
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Dr. Ann Bieber began her professional career at Lehigh Carbon Community College (LCCC) as the college’s secretary more than 40 years ago. What she never thought was that she would become the president of one of the most important community colleges for the Latino community in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania.
Born in northeastern Pennsylvania, Bieber was the first generation in her family to be a college student, graduating as a public administrator from Cedar Crest College in Allentown. She went on to acquire a master’s degree from Kutztown University and a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Management from Capella University in Minnesota.
In 2014, she was appointed President of the institution, after serving as Interim President. Currently, the mission of the institution under her presidency is focused on providing federal and state scholarships and financial aid to students in need. In addition, establishing inclusive initiatives to ensure that higher education is accessible to both the Latino community and students in general. “I've seen the increase in the Hispanic population, both in the community and also in our population [at Lehigh Carbon]”, Bieber told AL DÍA.
Since 2017, Lehigh Carbon Community College was chosen by the Department of Education as a Hispanic Serving Institution after reaching 25 % of the required enrollment of Hispanic students. By fall 2022, the institution reflected an increase in Hispanic students, bringing enrollment to 26 %. Overall, LCCC has 3,539 full-time students, while Hispanic enrollment is around 910.
To contribute to the empowerment among Latino students and continue the commitment to creating supportive communities, LCCC established the ASPIRA First-Year Experience seminar, whose purpose is to discuss and advise students on how to navigate college, succeed academically, and identify personal and career goals.
The institution also has available the Early College program, where high school students can earn their high school diploma while also earning an associate degree.
As part of the exponential growth of the Latino community in higher education, LCCC has focused its efforts on expanding its Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, which is currently under renovation. It also has a Latino Leadership Club with more than 100 members.
The LCCC Story
In 1995, public schools in the Eastern Pennsylvania city of Allentown conducted a survey of high school students to determine the number of students interested in pursuing higher education at a “community college”.
To the surprise of many, the results were in favor of establishing a community college in Allentown, where the U.S. Census Bureau recently reported exponential growth in the Latino and Hispanic population. By 2020, approximately 54 % of the city’s population, more than 68,000 people, were identified as Hispanic. This makes Allentown the third largest city in Pennsylvania in terms of percentage of Hispanic population.
LCCC was officially established in 1966 in Lehigh County. It currently has four college campuses, two in the city of Allentown, one in the city of Schnecksville and the fourth in Tamaqua Township. Allentown is home to LCCC’s airport, where students can become certified as Professional Pilots or study Aviation Science to become airport operations inspectors, airport managers, among other positions.
Other campuses of the institution offer programs in Business and Administration, Communications and Design, Health Sciences, Psychology, Nursing, Human Resources, Criminal Justice and General Studies, among others.
Bieber assured that the future mission of LCCC is to continue with the increase of its services in favor of the members of the community they serve, which certainly the Hispanic community forms an integral part of it, to meet their needs and ensure their success.