USM Gulf Coast will begin admitting freshmen and sophomore students next week. Wednesday, many of those students were on campus to register for classes.
They are people like Tameka Marks. She graduated from high school 20 years ago. Now, her dream comes true, as she heads off to college.
"Excited, kind of nervous, don't know where to start, where to go. I know I am on the right track," said Marks.
Tameka is a mother of two, who also holds a full time job. Now, she can live at home, work around her busy schedule, and still get a four year degree, at a reasonable cost.
According to Tameka, "I am here to stay. I waited for the door to open and it has opened."
Many of those registering were upperclassmen. Due to budget restraints this year, USM Gulf Coast will only admit 75 freshmen, but that number will grow in years to come. Vice President Dr. Jim Williams says admitting freshmen and sophomores opens up an entirely new era for the school.
"It means we can now do what universities do for students, and that is nurture them through four years of an educational program, have an opportunity for them to build relationships with faculty members over a four year period, and to build those emotional ties with the university and the university with them," said Williams.
Final admissions numbers are not yet in, but Dr. Williams says whatever they are, they will grow in years to come. He calls Wednesday, a very good day. And as for the long fight to get to this point, Dr. William's says he never had a doubt that one day, the school would become a four year university.