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'Growing our own': Cochise College offers bachelor's degrees to grow county's workforce

Posted at 5:27 PM, Jun 06, 2024

SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. (KGUN) — Students in Cochise County will have another choice when it comes to earning a bachelor's degree—one that’s closer to home and encourages career advancement.

Cochise College is taking applications for their new Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and Bachelor of Applied Science in Leadership, Management and Operations. JD Rottweiler, President of Cochise College, says the programs are online and were created based on feedback from the school's advisory councils.

"Community is our middle name, so anything that ties in and benefits our community— whether that’s in workforce development or transfer degrees, those types of things— the college has always made that the highest emphasis,” Rottweiler said.

In rural communities healthcare workers are needed, and this new bachelor's program will help local nurses receive the education to further their careers.

“It’s really about growing our own and building a pathway to fill all of our workforce needs in Cochise County,” Rottweiler said. “It’s really an opportunity to take those students in our pipeline, already working in our county and give them an opportunity to complete baccalaureate degrees.”

The BSN is designed for registered nurses with associates degrees and who are currently working as RNs in the county. Nursing Directror for the college, Melesa Ashline, says 85% of the nurses working in Cochise County went to Cochise College.

“New nurses want to go to bigger cities, (where there are) more opportunities," Ashline said. "This will allow nurses in Cochise County to stay in Cochise County. .

She says the online format and the affordability of the programs makes it easier to get through the program while working.

"It’s going to allow them to have their full time nursing job and attend school,” Ashline said.

The programs will have 24 students to start and take a minimum of four semesters to complete.

“We want to keep Cochise County vibrant and healthy economically and in our community development and we know an educated workforce is vital in that,” Rottweiler said.

The Bachelor of Applied Science in Leadership, Management and Operations is designed for law enforcement and military personnel, so they move through the ranks. Rottweiler says there are more than five different tracks in that program.

The college chose the programs based on feedback from local employers, including hospitals, law enforcement agencies and Fort Huachuca.

“This is just our way of answering their needs," Ashline said. "We see that the flood gates are going to open and we’re going to have a lot of students.”

College officials say that after the first group of students graduate they will reevaluate and look at opening more seats within the programs. They are currently taking applications and will be selecting the first students within the coming weeks.

Alexis Ramanjulu is a reporter in Cochise County for KGUN 9. She began her journalism career reporting for the Herald/Review in Sierra Vista, which she also calls home. Share your story ideas with Alexis by emailing or by connecting on Facebook.