Recently appointed campus president of the Dixie Applied Technology College (DXATC), Kelle Stephens’ roots run deep when it comes to her involvement with the college. She has been a key part of the growth and progress of the college since its establishment in 2001.
Shortly after her arrival in St. George 21 years ago, Stephens began working as director of Custom Fit Training for Dixie State College, then the Dixie Business Alliance and eventually DXATC. Most recently, she served as vice president of instruction for DXATC and as director of industry training.
With more than 20 accredited occupational certificate programs and skills training courses, DXATC offers vocational programs that teach students job skills that are in demand. In Southern Utah, there is significant need for skilled employees in the medical, trucking and transportation, and manufacturing industries. Stephens’ vision going forward is to help to fill the gap. As such, she and her team are making plans to create emergency response training and a machining certificate program.
Since assuming the reins of DXACT in June, Stephens has been working with her staff of 22 to determine what the college’s future should be. This includes taking a step back, starting at a foundational level and examining current and future needs.
“We are holding everything up and asking questions,” Stephens says. “We are developing a mission and vision that will impact our future. We are examining what our future should be and how we will get there.”
Going forward, another vital area of focus for Stephens will be securing additional funding—both legislative funding and contributions from private benefactors who believe in vocational training programs.
What does all this mean for Utah’s Dixie? Stephens says training individuals to be more employable will create a ripple effect: skilled workers will lead to stronger organizations and stronger organizations will create a stronger economic base.
Stephens enjoys seeing the transformation from when a new student first walks into DXATC fearful and lacking confidence. “A short time later they walk across the stage to receive their certificate and they are confident, competent and they glow,” she says. “You look at them and think what a difference the last few months have made.”
And for Stephens, seeing this transformation is the most rewarding part of what she does. “I know for a fact that we make a difference in people’s lives,” she says. “We have a bright future and we’re going to impact more and more lives.”