We sat down with Dr. Heather Bigard, President of Lake Sumter State College to ask a few important questions:
Q: What does your business do?
A: Founded in 1962, Lake-Sumter State College (LSSC) offers a high-quality education at an affordable price to the communities of Lake and Sumter counties. LSSC embraces its mission as a community college to increase access and opportunity for all learners in its community. As a proud member of the Florida College System, LSSC serves more than 8,000 students annually at four locations and online: Leesburg, Four Corners, South Lake (Clermont), and Sumterville. LSSC offers non-credit, certificate, associate degree, and bachelor’s degree programs designed to support and prepare students to pursue their goals and join Florida’s dynamic workforce.
Q: What is one thing Floridians may not know about your industry?
A: Higher education is affordable. Lake-Sumter State College, and all schools in the Florida College System, provide opportunities for a wide variety of students at a very affordable price. LSSC also offers over $1.2 million in scholarships supported by private donors every year, in addition to any federal financial aid the student may be eligible.
Q: What is one opportunity and one challenge your industry is facing?
A: As innovation in technology, particularly AI, changes the landscape of our workforce, we have an incredible opportunity to leverage AI as a student support tool and to educate students to be responsible users of AI in their professions.
We pride ourselves on being affordable to students; however our programs can be expensive and we continue to be creative in the ways that we can fund new programs, services and technology.
Q: What is one way we can unite to help grow your industry in Florida?
A: We believe that a partnership with employers in the industry is how we can grow our enrollment and provide an opportunity for students to be employed after they complete their education. As we and our students become increasingly focused on the return on investment, we are looking for employer partners to hire our students, teach in our programs, and offer tuition support to their current employees. We have several productive and creative partnerships with employers and as we continue to grow are looking forward to working with more.