Fulton (WSYR-TV) -- A new banner stretches across an empty grocery store on the edge of Fulton, promising opportunity for the city's future.
Cayuga Community College is expanding the Fulton branch to reach more classrooms and more students. This semester, there's already a double-digit spike in applications; among them, veterans like Kevin Coleman who is easing into civilian life.
“The program here is excellent for returning vets because we are just getting back into a school environment,” Coleman said.
And this bigger better campus is also an opportunity for people in Oswego County to ease back into the job market. When CCC opened its Fulton branch in 1994, many of the early incoming students were struggling to recover from the closure of the Miller Brewery. Years later, the college absorbed some people left unemployed when the Nestle plant closed. Campus Operations Manager Sue Witmer is a charter member of the college who has watched its purpose evolve.
“What we're finding is that a lot of people in this area are first generation college students who are going to be the first people ever in their family to have graduated from college,” Witmer said.
When CCC opened the Fulton branch 18 years ago, they had 2.5 rooms shared by students and staff. Today, they have nearly 90,000 square feet at the new campus.
Enrollment is up 24 percent in five years; most students are taking courses that can be transferred to more expensive four year schools, later. Mike Fochtman, a 2012 graduate, now works for the college, while pursuing a Bachelor's degree through another school online. He started his college career at a larger school and left to join CCC.
“You get the quality education that you deserve at a higher institution without the culture shock of having to deal with walking into a big lecture hall and having to deal with...I'm just nothing but a number here,” Fochtman said.