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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

TCC Connect Campus president shares roots

TCC Connect Campus president Carlos Morales stands in front of the sign leading into the Connect Campus’ building. It can be found on TR Campus. Photos by Alex Hoben/The Collegian
TCC Connect Campus president Carlos Morales stands in front of the sign leading into the Connect Campus’ building. It can be found on TR Campus.
Photos by Alex Hoben/The Collegian

ALEX HOBEN
editor-in-chief
alexandra.hoben@my.tccd.edu

Gaining knowledge and pursuing education has been a constant in TCC Connect Campus president Carlos Morales’ life, and now he is helping students pursue it as well.

Morales has had the importance of education ingrained in him since he was a child. Growing up in Aguada, a town in western Puerto Rico, he said the community would rally around the children’s education. Due to this, he had good examples of pursuing education.

“In my immediate area, I would say 90% of my friends went to college in one way or another, and their parents also attended college, ” Morales said. “So we were surrounded by teachers, nurses, engineers, lawyers and doctors. And we were not rich. We were what we would say, middle class.”

This community shaped him into seeing education as vitally important and something that is a necessity for everyone, he said. Even when he goes back and visits the community now, he can still see this tradition continue.

“So that created a model for many of us to follow,” Morales said. “I was there like a month ago, and it was very interesting to see how the neighborhood has transformed in terms of now the sons of my friends are coming up in a similar fashion.”

He also said how his parents encouraged him to get an education and told him there were no excuses for him to not go to college. 

“Education is the only thing, or one of the few things that provide for social mobility, and it’s the greatest equalizer,” Morales said. “My parents always told me that the only thing that nobody can take away from me is my education. That is mine. A car can be taken away, a house can be taken away. But not your education.”

He said how the more a person can pursue, the more that can be attained and how that will lead to being prepared for decision-making in the future. With that, more opportunities will be presented.

There are even more opportunities provided now since when he went to college including Pell Grants, financial aid and scholarships he said so there is no reason not to pursue a higher education.

“At this stage, I also inculcated that to my kids and friends and nieces and nephews that there are no excuses at this time because of all those things that I mentioned,” Morales said.

Morales came to TCC in 2013 when he was hired as the president of the Connect Campus, which opened in 2014. He said what appealed to him the most about the job was how he would be building an online campus from the ground up.

“I have been, what I would say, a builder in other facets of my life because I have built centers for training and technological innovation,” Morales said . “I have built operations where you combine departments, all of that in instructional technology and distance education and different ways of teaching and learning.”

What was unique about working here is how it was completely online and completely digital, he said. The main goal was to reach as many people as possible through the digital landscape.

Morales said he has only worked in the field of education, whether that be teaching, advising or even managing as he does now.

“This is the only thing that I have done, which then allowed me to provide for others to learn and is very rewarding when you see people progressing,” he said.

He expressed how he progressed from just teaching the sciences in Puerto Rico to training the faculty about the technology available and about distance learning. This led to him getting a position as an instructional designer in a center in New Jersey, and that’s how he got into the field.

Morales also spoke about how media coverage in Puerto Rico has fluctuated over the past five to seven years and has mainly been focused on the economy as well as the slow recovery on the island from Hurricane Maria in 2017. He said this attention has impacted the lives of the people who live there still and not always in the best of ways.

“But on the other hand, there is a lot of potential in the island,” he said. “You know, the aspect of having at least 120 universities in a small area that produce over 15,000 or 20,000 graduates every year.”

Morales also mentioned that in the 80s and 90s Puerto Rico was the center of manufacturing for the top 10 drugs in the U.S. and in the world.

“So again, the willingness, the drive, the potential of people is always there, we would like to see that highlighted more than the negative things,” said Morales.

SE assistant professor of Math Brunilda Santiago said that she has known him since his first few weeks and was able to learn about their shared birthplace.

“I learned that we are both from the beautiful island of Puerto Rico,” she said. “He loves to visit the island sometimes more than once a year.”

 Santiago has seen the work he does for the TCC community through attending panel discussions and online seminars during the pandemic.

“He proudly represented TCC Connect by facilitating sessions and providing instant translation of Webinars in English and Spanish,” Santiago said. “He stays relevant in his field by always looking for opportunities to elevate the Connect Campus in the local, national and international community.”’

Morales said that Connect Campus wasn’t that heavily affected by the pandemic when it first hit because the classes weren’t in-person, to begin with. But because of the way the campus had laid the groundwork for online-only learning, they were able to help the rest of the district when it became a necessity.

“The aspect that was very rewarding at the same time was that the processes that we had put together from not only the courses, the course design, the way the faculty teach and the faculty use technology for online,” Morales said. “We were approached to share that with the rest of the college.”

He also said that even after coming back in person, the campus is going strong with enrollment rates. He said because students during the pandemic realized the flexibility that the online courses can give to them if they need it they kept with the distance learning option.

But no matter what form, Morales encourages all students to pursue an education because of how it will give them the tools to be informed and prepared citizens for whatever the future may bring.

“So I will encourage you to pursue your education. Whatever form and whatever length and in whatever modality that could be, of course,” said Morales. “We are here to work with students in the best way possible to ensure that they are in the right path.”

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