How the Other Half Lives: HFC’s Nursing Campus

Photo by Hector Ochoa

All of us are familiar with HFC’s campus. We know the different buildings and the ongoing struggle to park our cars. But just ten minutes from here exists a whole other world, servicing programs and educating students away from the hustle and bustle of the main campus.

This world is HFC’s east campus. Located at Schaefer Road and Rotunda Drive, the east campus is tucked into a secluded corner of Dearborn, just across from Ford’s Dearborn Truck Plant.

At the building where the Nursing program lives, you’re greeted by lovely landscape that surrounds tall iron fencing. Judging by the façade, one could make some assumptions that this campus is isolated and exclusive. But truly, the experiences of these students is anything but isolated.

Started in the 1950s as a response to a shortage of nurses, the Nursing program has grown over the years. Associate Dean Susan T. Shunkwiler is a graduate of the program herself and has an abundance of pride when she speaks about the competitive program. “We get high caliber students.” Currently, the program includes more than 500 students, according to Shunkwiler, boasting one of the largest programs in the state.

The Nursing program may live on the east campus, but students often start by taking classes at the main campus. The program then puts students into a mixture of in-class simulations and real, clinical experience in the field. These students aren’t cut off from the college experience, they’re just spending time attending highly specialized classes.

HFC’s Nursing Division moved into the east campus in 2010. Classrooms often resemble real health care environments, filled with hospital beds, beeping equipment, and mannequins that can act as a real person may. The mannequins are an especially unique tool. Some of them blink and breathe and can have an operator that speaks to the students as they treat their “patient.”

Unique learning environments extend to the second building on HFC’s east campus. This is home to HFC’s Michigan Technical Education Centers, also known as M-TEC. M-TEC was born out of a statewide initiative to provide facilities for training and continuing education for skilled laborers. These aren’t your typical college students, but the program plays a large part in helping keep Michigan’s workers educated and employed.

M-TEC is home to a variety of classes, but one unique offering is their Industrial Sewing Certificate Program. According to Crain’s Detroit, the program launched at HFC last year as the first of its kind in Michigan, though plans were recently announced by Detroit Garment Group to help HFC expand the program to other schools.

Brenna Lane, of local business Detroit Denim, is very grateful for M-TEC. She expressed excitement at the prospect of increasing the pool of skilled laborers in the metro Detroit area, citing the current deficit of capable people to employ. “[It’s] resuscitating pride in labor and working with your hands,” she said.

Certainly, these programs on HFC’s east campus are important. They have the potential to give students a chance to hone skills that will quickly carry them into the workforce. And like so many opportunities that present themselves at HFC, they require hard work and determination. But it is within reach ... even if it is ten minutes away.

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