BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - William Carey University at Tradition is enjoying record enrollment. The 2015 fall enrollment is the highest ever in the school's 40 year history on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
When the campus moved to Highway 67 after Hurricane Katrina, leaders expected growth, but not at the current level. The dean credits a number of reasons why the campus has attracted more students, including those from out-of-state, as well as those who are still in high school.
Kim Swift was attending nursing school in Memphis when her fiance landed a job in South Mississippi.
"I started researching the nursing schools. I wanted to make sure I was coming to a good program and this one, just everyone, even from Memphis heard about William Carey," said Swift.
After doing her research, Swift transferred to William Carey's Tradition campus.
"It's like a little family. You walk on campus and you know every one and the administrators know you. It's really cool," said Swift.
The university's award-winning nursing program is a major reason behind a spike in enrollment this fall.
"It's phenomenal! Following the storm, we dropped down to about 500 students, and each year, we've seen an increase in enrollment," said Administrative Dean Jerry Bracey.
The student population is currently at a record high, jumping from 942 students in the fall of 2014 to more than 1,153 students in 2015.
"I think a lot has to do with our small classes, our affordability, and our caring staff and faculty," said Bracey. "It's wonderful! It's truly a blessing."
Other programs at William Carey are also seeing a lot of growth, like criminal justice, psychology, education, art and business. Additionally, the university is attracting more high school students thanks to a dual enrollment program, where high school students can attend classes there and earn both high school and college credit.
"We survey the community, found out what the needs are, and then try to fulfill those needs," said Bracey.
Swift is glad she found a program that fits her needs, so she can pursue her passion in pediatric nursing.
"I want to be an awesome nurse and really get involved down here on the coast," said Swift.