Continuing Education offers alternatives for occupational advancement
By Orlando Gonzalez
Bridge contributing writer
Published Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021
Sometimes, people seek an education but not a specific degree. For that, there’s Continuing Education.
This program allows people to continue pursuing a career or to learn a new skill. Texas A&M International University’s Continuing Education program offers courses for people to achieve their occupational goals.
“Continuing Education is the non-credit side of the University,” Office of Continuing Education Director Susan M. Foster said. “Our courses are certificate programs, where people can take an online course to get certified in different areas whether it is health care, whether it is business, whether it is criminal justice, art and design, computer [or] IT technology.
“There [are] a variety of different certificates that people would be interested in … We have [more than] 500, maybe 600, online courses. They are for career-track as well as for personal enrichment courses, such as getting a certificate in music therapy—things like that—as well as getting a career track certification in being a clinical medical assistant.”
Continuing Education also offers face-to-face courses. They offered an American Sign Language course October through December, in two parts. They also planned an Intensive drawing course for December.
The program also offered a ceramics course with Assistant Professor of art Emily Bayless. With a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Fine Arts in ceramics, she taught the subject for six years so far after 20 years of experience working with clay. She also works with a group of students to revive the visual art club.
The class is located at the Center for the Fine and Performing Arts in Room 125. The room greets visitors with walls full of equipment, samples of ceramics work with clay in assorted colors and textures, and a group of students present to learn from her.
One of the students used the pottery wheel to create a vase, but was unable to get the desired shape. Bayless stepped in and showed her how to do it. She instructed the student to apply pressure both from the inside and also outside to get that shape.
She said she likes the course in the fall because it is three months long; in the summer, it only lasts five weeks. She prefers the slower pace.
“It’s really nice that the fall course is three months longs … the students have a lot more time to develop their skills and to come into the semester with a focus,” Bayless said. “They can come in with a project they want to accomplish, and then I can help them accomplish those goals.”
Bayless said the pandemic caused the course to adapt virtually, which created challenges since students need to feel, touch and see to develop the proper technique.
“It’s all about the feel of it,” she said. “The technique is going to be specific to the individual and I can help them discover their best technique or their best approach, but it’s difficult for me to help them discover that if I can’t also work with them side-by-side and show them how I do it.”
Local artist Jessica Diez Barroso, with a fine arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin, said her curriculum included a ceramics class, but there was a particular thing she was unable to do. She never got to use the throwing wheel; that was one reason she decided to take this course with Bayless. But, she had an even greater motive to enroll in the class.
“My daughter just got married and we had not been spending that much time together, as we were before, so we said, ‘Let’s take a class together,’” Diez Barroso said. “She took a lot of art classes during her college years, also, and she took a ceramics class too, but never got to learn how to throw the wheel either. So we said, ‘Let’s take the class together.’”