Craven Community College (Craven CC) held a ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of its newly renovated student services department in Barker Hall on April 16. Known as First Stop, it now consolidates services by bringing admissions, advising, counseling, switchboard services, financial aid, veteran’s affairs and payment processing into one convenient location.
The project was initiated in 2016 when the Craven CC Board of Trustees requested funding for the renovation of Barker Hall’s first floor, which was partially used at that time for student tutoring and testing, as well as administrative offices. College officials decided to transform it into a streamlined service area for all students. Whether a student is a veteran, a first-generation student or looking to improve a skill that will make them more competitive in the workplace, a central access point was needed to simplify student journeys and eliminate as many enrollment barriers as possible.
The $1.2 million renovation of approximately 12,000 square feet included updates to the interior lobby and new entrance into Public Radio East, which broadcasts live from the Craven CC campus. First Stop now houses enrollment services, career/transfer advising, financial aid, testing areas and student accounts. Bringing everything together under one roof allows the college to improve the quality of service to students and other stakeholders, facilitate sharing of information and improve efficiency for the college.
“First Stop is not just for new students looking to register,” said Zomar Peter, dean of enrollment management. “It’s a place for anyone to come explore options in workforce development or curriculum and see what our college has to offer them for their unique educational path. We look forward to assisting students with their educational, career or personal goals.”
An information table will serve as a greeting station and information hub, with one of the college’s knowledgeable First Stop employees always available to answer questions and assist students. The modernized space also includes a conference room, lactation room, unisex bathroom and gathering space for staff members to take breaks and interact with coworkers.
Last year, the college enrolled 19,603 students across curriculum and workforce development programs. Each of these students needed individual advising on their academic journeys and had unique financial aid needs to address. The consolidated services will greatly facilitate these essential tools, which are crucial to every student’s initial college experience.
First Stop’s 28 employees serve 40 to 100 students every day. While the department’s primary focus is on curriculum student enrollment, the college will soon integrate workforce development enrollment.
The ribbon cutting marked the completion of the college’s full restoration of Barker Hall, which included the renovation of Godwin Memorial Library and Testing Center on the second floor that was completed last year.
“We are excited to celebrate the start of a new, exciting chapter in Craven Community College’s ever-expanding history,” said Dr. Ray Staats, Craven CC president. “First Stop is a transformative improvement for our students.”
This article also appeared in the Sun Journal.