KISSIMMEE, Fla. — A higher learning institution in Kissimmee is betting on the growing Puerto Rican market by expanding programs fully taught in Spanish and merging with three island-based colleges.
- Florida Technical College to offer Spanish baking program
- FTC officials say they want to broaden job opportunities
- 'Programa de Pastelería' will begin April 30
Laura Bernate has been studying the art of cake making here at Florida Technical College since last summer.
"Create new things each day, learn new things each day, trials and error,” Bernate explained. “And that's what I love about this place."
What makes this classroom unique is that oftentimes both English and Spanish are spoken. For people like Bernate, when English is her second language, it makes her proud to know that at the end of this month, FTC will launch "Programa de Pastelería," its third diploma program fully taught in Spanish.
Officials with FTC say that the point of having these programs both in English and in Spanish is to help students bloom when it comes to job opportunities. This all comes as the Hispanic population in Osceola County continues to grow — especially Puerto Ricans relocating to the area after the Hurricane Maria.
"We have to have workers that can communicate in English and Spanish and can go back and forth regularly as our client base,” said Chef Christian Markussen, the director for Hospitality Programs. “And the demographic of our area both here locally but throughout the nation includes more Spanish speakers."
FTC has also merged with three Puerto Rican-based higher learning institutions, meaning transferring credits for students coming from the island and sharing resources will be easier. The institutions are National University College, Instituto de Banca y Comercio, Ponce Paramedical College. These long-established schools that serve the entire island will now operate in unison with FTC.
Two other Florida schools, The Digital Animation and Visual Effects School, located at Universal Orlando and Lasalle Computer Learning Center, are also part of the merger.
"By uniting these institutions, we're taking an extraordinary step towards coming together towards a common goal which is providing quality education," said Leiby Adames-Boom, the Vice President of Academic Affairs.
Bernate said FTC is helping her explore the universal language of food.
"Regardless of what language you speak … it shouldn't be a barrier, but it should also be a push for them to come and give what they have," Bernate added.
The Spanish baking program classes start on April 30.