Thursday, November 15, 2018

Rice Family Foundation receives Garrett civic leadership award

Lisa and Jessica Wilson

A foundation that has provided more than $1 million in donations to Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges has been honored with the second annual Bill and Judy Garrett Civic Leadership Award.

The award was presented Thursday night to the Rice Family Foundation at a dinner honoring donors to the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges.

 “The Rice Family Foundation’s support of our colleges embodies the spirit of the Bill and Judy Garrett Civic Leadership Award, which recognizes an individual or group that leads with integrity and supports student success,” said Sally Cox, chief executive officer of the district foundation.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Theater under construction at Grossmont College reaches new heights

Steelworkers put up the last structural beam at a topping off.
A construction milestone of the Grossmont College Performing and Visual Arts Center was celebrated Thursday by educators and officials autographing the last structural beam going up on what promises to be a landmark structure.

The customary “topping off” ceremony also marks the nearly halfway point for the $42 million project being funded by Proposition V construction dollars approved by East County voters in 2012. The nearly 39,000-square-foot facility, which broke ground in 2017 and is targeted for completion in fall 2019, will serve as an instructional and performance venue for the theater, dance and music programs. In addition to a 390-seat, multipurpose theater replete with one of the largest stages in the county, an orchestra pit and balcony, the center will also house the Hyde Art Gallery.

President Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh signs a construction beam.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Brooklyn Lopez: Setting an Example for Others

Brooklyn Lopez
Brooklyn Lopez could write a book on overcoming adversity. Growing up without a father, raised by a mother struggling with alcohol and substance abuse, Lopez said she often found herself home alone and had to learn how to cook, clean and take care of her younger siblings by the age of 5.

Today, however, the former foster youth is a Cuyamaca College honor student who is on track to earn an associate degree in accounting in the spring of 2019. She has her sights set on transferring to San Diego State University and she is aiming for a career in finance or as an accountant.

Lopez’s achievements were recently rewarded with a Retiree Network Scholarship. The scholarship is given to a select few who – at the very least – have completed at least 24 units at the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, have a minimum grade point average of 3.0, are enrolled in a minimum of nine credits, and have plans to transfer to a four-year university or complete an associate degree or certificate.

“What motivates me is that I can prove to other students no matter what life throws at them, they can always choose the better option and the better path. There is no excuse to fall in the negative one,” she wrote in her scholarship essay. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Baroque, Beethoven and Beyond


Winds from the San Diego Symphony will join pianist Jessie Chang in a unique chamber music concert set for Friday, Nov. 9, at Cuyamaca College’s Samuel M. Ciccati Theatre.

Jessie Chang & Selected Winds from the San Diego Symphony: Baroque, Beethoven and Beyondwill feature an all-star cast of classical musicians in the latest ECHO Chamber Music Series that is being underwritten by Sam Ersan, vice chairman of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra’s Board of Directors. Among the works being performed are Jan Dismas Zelenka’s Trio Sonata No. 3, Igor Stravinsky’s Pastoraleand Ludwig van Beethoven’s Quintet for Piano and Winds Op. 16.

Such an all-star cast of classical musicians have rarely performed at a community college in the region. Chang has been featured at Carnegie Hall’s Isaac Stern Auditorium, has collaborated with major orchestras across the globe, has earned top honors in more than 30 distinguished national and international piano competitions, and plays regularly with members of the San Diego Symphony. Others being featured on Friday include Sarah Skuster, the San Diego Symphony’s principal oboist; Andrea Overturf, the Symphony’s English horn; the Symphony bassoonist Leyla Zamora, who for more than a decade served as principal bassoonist at the Memphis Symphony; Symphony Second Bassoon Ryan Simmons; harpsichord player Takae Ohnishi; the San Diego Symphony’s Principal Clarinetist, Sheryl Renk; Symphony Principal Bassoonist Valentin Martchev; Symphony violinist Julia Pautz; and Darby Hinshaw, a former principal horn player with the Marin Symphony who joined the San Diego Symphony in 2011.

General admission tickets are $15, or $10 if bought in advance. Student tickets are $5 each. Tickets can be purchased and further information can be found at Cuyamaca College is at 900 Rancho San Diego Parkway in El Cajon, 92019.

The ECHO Chamber Music Series – ECHO is an acronym for the East County Harmonics Organization – debuted this past spring and is aimed at bringing some of the world’s top young musicians to Cuyamaca College’s Samuel M. Ciccati Theatre. Six concerts are tentatively on tap for the coming spring, including: Quicksilver Baroque (Jan. 6); a piano/viola recital with Reiko Uchida and Brian Chen (Jan. 29); the Myriad Trio (Feb. 19); the Smetana Piano Trio (Feb. 22); the Fauré Piano Quartet (March 18); and Augustin Hadelich and Orion Weiss (April 19). Hadelich is playing with the San Diego Symphony in February but is returning to the region for the April 19 concert at Cuyamaca College.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Graphic design student a portrait of perseverance

Grossmont College student Jake McDermott
Jake McDermott isn’t letting the challenges of his past keep him from realizing the promise of his future. The former foster youth who has overcome learning disabilities and ADHD is thriving at Grossmont College, where he is a member of the campus Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, volunteers extensively, is on track to transfer to San Diego State University and is looking forward to a career as a graphic designer and photo editor.

“There are a lot of support services at Grossmont, and the counselors and staff at the college are really supportive, helpful, and caring, which is why I am doing so well,” McDermott said. “It’s just a good place to get a good education.”

McDermott’s efforts have been rewarded with several Osher scholarships from the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges, and he also helps support himself through a work-study program that has him using his skills as a graphic artist at The Common Ground, the Grossmont College student engagement, cross-cultural space.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Marsha Fralick: 40 Years of Memories at Cuyamaca College

It wasn’t the best first impression. 

Marsha Fralick had just accepted a job as a founding faculty member at Cuyamaca College in summer 1978 when she and her husband decided to have a look at the new campus in what was then a desolate stretch of El Cajon. “I was pretty shocked,” Fralick said. “There was only one building and a bunch of dirt. There were no roads, no sidewalks, just a lot of construction going on. My husband turned to me and said, ‘You may have made a mistake.’”

Forty years later, as Cuyamaca celebrates its ruby anniversary, there is no question Fralick made the right choice. “Every time I come to campus I feel a great deal of pride,” said Fralick, who officially retired in 2007 but still teaches an online Counseling 120 course. “It’s a beautiful college with beautiful, modern buildings and amazing students. This is what we all dreamed of, and it’s great to see it become a reality.”

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Grossmont College's Drone Technology Program launching free piloting classes

Grossmont College’s much-anticipated Drone Technology Program launches Oct. 30, with grant-funded classes offering free, comprehensive instruction designed to train novices to become FAA-certified commercial drone pilots with skills to pursue jobs or to become self-employed.

President Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh said the college is excited to offer the new program at no cost to students, noting that private drone schools typically charge thousands of dollars for the training. Despite the cost, the training is growing in demand with many drone pilots working as freelance contractors, flying drones for small businesses and major companies, alike.  Grossmont College’s classes train pilots for two commercial tracks – Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) cinematography and UAS surveying and mapping. 

“Clearly, the interest and demand are there and with the funding to support developing education and training in this burgeoning career field, we were very keen to start this program,” Abu-Ghazaleh said, adding that as the new curriculum is expanded, classes will be offered next spring in the programming and technology that make autonomous aircraft function.