MANAHAWKIN — Cassandra DiLorenzo, 20, is a junior at Richard Stockton College in Galloway Township. But the Brick Township resident is more than happy to stay closer to home twice a week to take an 8:30 a.m. class at the new Instructional Site Stockton opened this month at Manahawkin Plaza in Stafford Township.

“I come here, then I go to the main campus,” she said. “But I wouldn’t mind coming here more.”

She just might get her wish.

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Stockton officials and state legislators dedicated the new 3,200-square-foot site Thursday, promising the possibility another 5,000 square feet within the next two years. The college is currently offering seven classes that have an enrollment of 130 students.

Stockton President Herman J. Saatkamp said the site represents a significant move for the college into Ocean County and an effort to become part of the community. He noted that after Atlantic County, the second largest group of students at Stockton comes from Ocean County.

Stockton enrollment data show that in fall 2011, 1,762 undergraduate students at Stockton were from Atlantic County and 1,221 were from Ocean County.

State legislators Sen. Chris Connors, a Stockton alumnus, and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove and Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf, all R-Atlantic, Ocean, came to offer their support for the college that now has two locations in their district.

Gove said when she was a teacher at Southern Regional High School she saw many of her students go to Stockton and become successful in their careers.

“We do need this here,” she said. “It is important for the students and the community to have this relationship.”

The new site has two classrooms equipped with large electronic smart boards. There is a small lobby area with comfortable seating and computers, and the walls are lined with photos of the main campus and art from Stockton’s Noyes Museum.

Michael Frank, president of the Stockton Faculty Senate, said the new site is perfect for the college programs in public health. AtlantiCare has a clinic next door and the Rothman Institute is also locating in the center. Saatkamp said they are planning partnerships that would let students do their clinical work at those sites.

Stafford Township Mayor John Spodofora said his daughter attended Stockton and, encouraged by a professor, went on to law school at Rutgers.

“This is more than just a brick and mortar building,” he said, focusing on the group of students in the audience. “It is an opportunity for you to do what you want with your life. Education will determine your future. Take advantage of it.”

The classes are geared to upperclassmen, some of whom have transferred from community or other colleges. Sarah Stone, 22, of Toms River, commutes to college from home and is happy to save time by going to Manahawkin for an early morning class.

“It’s so much easier to drive here,” she said.

The Manahawkin site is one of three off-campus locations under development. A Hammonton site is under renovation, and a classroom addition is being added to the Sam Azeez Museum of Woodbine Heritage in Woodbine, Cape May County.

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