Feb. 6, 2012
Students pitch in to raise money and make over retail space
Blinn College-Sealy Director Jeri Dulaney wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth.
When David Mafridge, the owner of the property Blinn’s Sealy campus leases, offered to double Blinn’s usable space, adding an addition 10,000 square feet free of charge, Dulaney jumped at the opportunity.
"So many of our students are used to this being a commuter campus where they just take their classes and go,” she said. “The new student center is an opportunity to create a greater sense of community on this campus."
But once Dulaney got a look inside the space that had once been a Liz Claiborne store, she saw just how much work there was to do.
"It was nasty,” Dulaney said. “No one had been there for about five years."
Mafridge’s offer had come as a surprise, so there hadn’t been any money budgeted for a major redesign. Instead, once a professional cleaning crew came in to clear out the space, Dulaney called upon her greatest and most energetic asset – her students – to help turn the abandoned shop into a makeshift student center.
"We know that gathering places are important for students – they need a safe place to study, work in teams or just hang out and enjoy the college experience,” Dulaney said.
Prior to Christmas, 18 Sealy students hung lights at nearby Levine Park to raise funds for the student center, and with the help of that money, Blinn was able to procure seating, a pool table, a ping pong table and an Xbox 360.
Art instructor Doug Cason is organizing an art gallery in the center that the staff is hoping to have ready in early March.
Dulaney said about a dozen students have helped organize the new student center,
including 40-50 hours spent sanding down the chairs and sprucing them up with coats of paint and varnish.
"They’re great students here at Sealy," Dulaney said. "I can’t speak highly enough of them."
Blinn-Sealy offers classes from 7 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Friday. Dulaney hopes the addition of a student center will help to build school spirit at Blinn’s smallest campus.