KAYSVILLE -- Davis Applied Technology College celebrated its 35th anniversary with a party for the community.
It was a fitting celebration Friday, given how much the school has grown in the community over the years. What began as a small vocational school with 900 students in 1978, based out of an elementary school in Layton, is now an educational facility with more than 7,000 students who not only attend the main campus in Kaysville, but also take classes at extension campuses in Clearfield, Draper and a new Freeport West center opening next month.
"Our population has grown so much that it's probably equivalent to a small community college, which is an amazing story, because it piggybacks on the fact that there is a segment of our population that can really grow from this type of service," said Michael Bouwhuis, DATC campus president.
He recalls one student in particular who exemplifies what many students encounter at the school. The student started at DATC with her nursing assistant training, which led to licensed practical nurse certification, then registered nurse at Weber State University. She then transferred to the University of Utah to become a nurse practitioner and now runs one of the units at McKay-Dee Hospital.
"We provide the stepping stones so they can move on to better careers," Bouwhuis said. "We are changing lives, and that is my favorite thing -- watching the students go and succeed."
Amy Stegen, director of instructional programs at the DATC, said even people with college degrees are coming back to get experience with a trade until their job markets open back up again.
Stegen speaks from experience. After pursuing a degree in biology and having difficulty finding employment, she found herself at the DATC in the nursing program. After graduating and working in the private sector, Stegen later was employed by DATC as an instructor and received an MBA from Weber State.
"We all need to keep getting education, no matter where we are in our life," said Stegen. "I love seeing the DATC grow and meet the needs of our community."
When Bouwhuis first started at DATC 19 years ago, the school had only 10 programs, but it has since added 20 new programs, with plans for many more.
"We will move more into what is considered super-high-tech positions, such as individuals that can service robotic equipment, work with high-level software, expand our nursing and surgical tech programs and getting into higher-level skill sets and development," Bouwhuis said.
Looking back, it may be easy to see how far DATC has come, but for business instructor Joe Gordon, who has been at the school for 20 years, it has been a gradual process. When he first started teaching, paper was still king.
"We called roll every day with a paper roll. We had no access to student information, unless we wanted to walk down to the main office and look at their physical file, and everything was graded on paper," Gordon said. "Now we have complete access to the computer for attendance, student information and emailing other teachers. It's a thousand times different and has been a huge change in how much technology has allowed us to be more efficient (in) managing our classrooms."