Ask anyone in Levelland what they would define as the crown jewel in their community, and they'll likely sum it up in three words: South Plains College. SPC now has the second largest enrollment of all colleges and universities in West Texas, second only to Texas Tech.
Enrollment at South Plains College could exceed 10,000 for the first time ever this fall. A community college that continues to grow, despite mounting obstacles.
"As we grow, the community grows. As we grow, businesses sell more products," says Dr. Gary McDaniel, President of South Plains College.
Dr. McDaniel describes Levelland and SPC as best friends.
"As well as the friendship and the community spirit, the economic impact is tremendous," says Dr. McDaniel.
SPC is, after all, the largest employer in Hockley County aside from the Levelland School District. And despite state budget cuts, the school has decided to forge ahead. Recently adding a new state of the art sports complex, complete with two giant weight and circuit training rooms, cardio equipment, and two intramural gymnasiums. All available to students and the community.
"It's a blast. It really is. Good school," says one sophomore.
And the school has become a popular choice for high school grads and parents alike, offering a discounted rate on the first two years of college.
"It's a lot cheaper, and you get a good education," says one student.
Many then continue their education.
"A lot of people go here. It's a good start off before you go to a major university," says another sophomore.
The school is wildly popular. Especially for those who can stay close to home by attending SPC. 85% of its students come from West Texas.
"I'm still living at home with my parents," says one student.
Even in the middle of summer, computer labs are buzzing with activity, with freshmen orientations, fall registration, and summer school. Kimbra Quinn is in charge of recruiting at SPC. A job she says isn't difficult.
"My job is very easy. I don't think I could be selling a better product," says Quinn.
When budget cuts were first announced by the state, there was some concern that SPC might have to cut staff. But despite careful spending, there have been no layoffs.