Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cuyamaca College to host congressional debate

             Cuyamaca College will host the only debate between Rep. Duncan Hunter and challenger James Kimber in the campaign for the 50th Congressional District seat.

             The debate is set for Friday, Sept. 26, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Cuyamaca College Performing Arts Theater, Building B, 900 Rancho San Diego Parkway, in Rancho San Diego.

            “As an integral part of the East County community, Cuyamaca College is honored to host this debate between Congressman Duncan Hunter and James Kimber, as it will provide our students and area residents an opportunity to learn more about the candidates and the political process,” said Cuyamaca College President Mark J. Zacovic.

            The debate is sponsored by Veterans Campaign, a nonpartisan, non-ideological organization whose mission is to train veterans to run for public office. Kimber, a Democrat who works as a physician assistant, is a Navy veteran who spent 20 years in the service; Hunter, a Republican who has been a Congressman representing the area since 2009, served in the Marine Corps and continues to serve in the Marine Corps Reserve.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Grossmont College music professor Justin Grinnell: Hitting all the right notes

Justin Grinnell
Follow your passion.

That has been a guiding principal for Grossmont College music instructor and jazz bassist extraordinaire Justin Grinnell, who ditched plans to study mathematics shortly after enrolling at San Diego State University back in 1999 and meeting musicians “who were doing music all the time.”

Good thing. Grinnell has become an integral part of a vibrant Grossmont College music program and gigs as a pit orchestra member at myriad venues, including the Old Globe, La Jolla Playhouse, and the San Diego Civic Theatre for a number of Tony Award-winning musicals.

And now his debut disc, the Justin Grinnell Quartet’s Without You, has been nominated for a San Diego Music Award for best jazz album.

Grinnell is no stranger to awards. He is a member of the Danny Green Trio, which won the 2009 San Diego Music Award for Best Jazz Album for its debut CD. The trio’s second release, A Thousand Ways Home, reached No. 17 on the Jazz Week Charts for national radio airplay after its 2012 debut.

“I’m doing what I love,” said Grinnell, who is on track to earn his Doctor of Musical Arts in Jazz Studies from USC next spring. “The only thing I really want to do is keep working with great musicians, perform with the jazz masters and teach jazz at the college or university level.”

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

College district wins national diversity award

The Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Tuesday received the 2014 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award, a national honor recognizing colleges and universities for outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.

It is the only community college district in the state and locally, joins San Diego State University and California State University, San Marcos, in its recognition from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest diversity-focused publication in higher education.  The district will be will be featured along with 82 other recipients across the nation in the magazine’s November 2014 issue. 

“With our diverse student and campus populations representing San Diego County’s rich mix of cultures and communities, our district places great importance in providing a welcoming environment to everyone,” Chancellor Cindy L. Miles said. “We are delighted that our efforts have been recognized with this welcome award.”

Monday, September 15, 2014

Rafael Navarrete: Bringing leadership skills from the military to Grossmont College

Rafael Navarrete
This is part of an occasional series on Grossmont and Cuyamaca students who exemplify success.
Rafael Navarrete is all about service. He proved that while serving eight years in the Marine Corps. He proved that while serving as a summer camp counselor at the Boys & Girls Club of East County. And he is proving that as an active member of the Grossmont College Student Veteran Organization and as president of Associated Students of Grossmont College.

“I didn’t want to just be a student at Grossmont, I wanted to be a part of Grossmont,” said Navarrete, a political science major who enrolled at the college in the fall of 2013, just three months after leaving the Marine Corps. “I wanted to serve again.”

He is surpassing his goals. Besides his roles as student body president and veterans’ advocate on campus, Navarrete sits on a college committee engaged in a nationwide search for a new Vice President of Student Services. He also serves on Grossmont College’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and the Bookstore Committee.

“Rafael Navarrete is making a lasting impact at Grossmont College, and we are honored to have as a student leader a veteran who gave so selfishly to his country,” said Grossmont President Sunny Cooke. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Grossmont, Cuyamaca colleges honor victims of 9/11 attacks

Memorial ceremonies marking the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks will be held Thursday at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges with the planting of 2,977 American flags representing the victims and the reading of names for everyone who lost his or her life.

            The Associated Students of Grossmont College (ASGC) is sponsoring a Spirit of 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony and Name Reading in the Main Quad. The Name Reading is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. The Remembrance is set to start at 12:30 p.m. and will include comments from former Marine Sgt. And current ASGC President Rafael Navarrete, Grossmont College President Sunita (Sunny) Cooke, and Cindy Miles, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District.

            The keynote speaker is Lt. Col. Douglas (Lucky) Luccio, deputy operations officer for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. Grossmont College student Javier Partida will be honored with the Spirit of 9/11 Award for scaring off an assailant who had targeted a fellow student, then escorting the victim to sheriff’s deputies at the college to report the crime.

            The Associated Student Government of Cuyamaca College and the Office of Student Affairs are remembering 9/11 by planting 2,977 flags on the Grand Lawn at the campus for a memorial beginning at 10:30 a.m. Speakers for the event include Cuyamaca College President Mark Zacovic; Col. John Farnham, commanding officer at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar; Mark Arabo, a spokesman for the Iraqi Chaldean community; Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jeff Lannon; and state Sen. Joel Anderson. The San Miguel Fire Department will display its 70-foot flag beside the Grand Lawn during the event.   

            Associated Students at both colleges have teamed up to raise money for the 9/11 Memorial Museum at the site of the destroyed Twin Towers in Manhattan. Donations of $1 or more will be accepted at both colleges.

            Grossmont College is at 8800 Grossmont College Drive in El Cajon. Cuyamaca College is at 900 Rancho San Diego Parkway in El Cajon. Both events are free and open to the public.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fall concert series set at Cuyamaca College

Music from the Middle East, a classical string quartet, contemporary tunes from Argentina, and a pop, rock, and soul ensemble playing Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon are among the performances set for Cuyamaca College’s fall concert series that begins Sept. 18.

             The fall season gets underway with Kembang Sunda, an Indonesian Gamelan ensemble. Based in San Diego, Kembang Sunda performs traditional Sundanese music from West Java. Gamelan ensembles developed in the ancient courts of Java and Bali, and primarily consist of tuned bronze percussive instruments. Kembang Sunda has been performing throughout Southern California since 2007.

            Other performances include the Danny Green Trio on Oct. 21, guitar virtuoso and Cuyamaca College instructor Jonathan Davis on Nov. 20, and the Cuyamaca College Wind Ensemble and Grossmont College Concert Band on Dec. 3. A full list of performances can be found at


Friday, August 29, 2014

Grossmont, Cuyamaca colleges laud exemplary faculty

The names of the awards may be different, but the intent is the same: to honor the passion and dedication of faculty chosen by their peers as the year’s best at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges.

Four faculty members – two from each college -- were honored recently with the academic year’s leading awards recognizing exemplary service to the campuses by either classroom or non-classroom faculty. The coveted committee-selected plaudits from each college’s Academic Senate are announced at fall semester convocations.

At Grossmont College, receiving the Distinguished Faculty honor for full-time, tenured faculty was Spanish instructor Yolanda Guerrero. An inaugural Distinguished Faculty award for part-time faculty was given to longtime math instructor Michael Lambe. At Cuyamaca College, receiving the Outstanding Faculty Award for full-time faculty was Spanish instructor Patricia Santana; the honor for part-time faculty was given to Arabic instructor Aklas Sheia, who is only the college’s second recipient of the adjunct award.