Thursday, October 16, 2014

Caleb Martinez: Finding redemption at Grossmont College

Caleb Martinez
This is another in an occasional series of student success stories at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges.
Grossmont College academic standout Caleb Martinez has experienced quite the journey. The 25-year-old East County resident grew up in a series of neighborhoods rife with crime, and he often found himself in trouble as a teen. His mother had to work two jobs to make ends meet, and his brother was murdered in a gang shooting in El Cajon.

Today, Martinez maintains a 4.0 grade point average, is the president of the campus EOPS Club, is planning to transfer to a University of California campus with plans of becoming a lawyer and is raising a young daughter as a doting single father.

Grossmont College has been pivotal in the transformation.

“Grossmont showed me that education is the way out, the way out for a lot of people who come from challenging backgrounds,” Martinez said. “The school helped me connect with the community and interact with different groups. It taught me so much about life in general."

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Grossmont College president Sunny Cooke selected to lead MiraCosta College

Sunita V. Cooke
After seven years as president of Grossmont College, Sunita V. Cooke has been chosen to serve as the new superintendent/president of MiraCosta College in northern San Diego County beginning in January 2015.

             Cooke was unanimously selected today by the MiraCosta Community College District Board of Trustees to replace Interim Superintendent/President Dick Robertson.

            "Sunny Cooke has been an exemplary leader for Grossmont College, and her focus has always been on providing the best services possible so that our students can succeed," said Cindy L. Miles, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District. “This is a bittersweet moment for us. We’ll miss her smart, caring and charismatic leadership, but we congratulate her on achieving this new phase in her career.”

            Cooke began serving as president of Grossmont College in 2007 after spending 12 years in the Lone Star College System in north Houston, Texas, culminating in a position there as vice chancellor for workforce development. 

            Grossmont College, on a 135-acre campus in El Cajon, serves more than 18,000 students. It offers over 150 degree and certificate programs, including renowned programs in nursing and allied health, administration of justice, culinary arts, and theater.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Nurses put on thinking caps to brainstorm about new alumni group

Nursing alums
About two dozen nurses had a reunion of sorts recently at Grossmont College to launch a nursing program alumni group with the support of the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges.

The mostly recent graduates of the college’s high-demand nursing program returned to the campus Wednesday to be part of the Grossmont College Nursing Blue-Ribbon Panel to brainstorm ideas to expand membership of the new alumni group and get nursing grads numbering in the thousands to reconnect with the program.

“It’s not only a wonderful way for our graduates to renew ties and foster networking opportunities, it’s a way to support the program and its current students,” said Debbie Yaddow, the college’s dean of allied health and nursing.

Of the estimated 7,000 Grossmont College nursing alum existing today, about 80 percent are believed to be employed in in the field, well above the 54 percent statewide average for other nursing programs.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Student success story: Grossmont College student using lessons learned in Theatre Arts

Kassandra Wallies
As William Shakespeare once wrote, all the world’s a stage. Just ask Kassandra Wallies, an active participant in Grossmont College’s Theatre Arts Department who is planning on a career as an elementary school teacher.
“I love teaching, and I think a good background in theatre will help a lot,” Wallies said. “A good teacher has to be able to capture their students’ attention.”

She’s also been capturing the attention of Grossmont faculty and staff, who laud Wallies for her work ethic and determination, not to mention her 3.5 GPA.

“Kassandra is just a fabulous young lady,” said Alexis Popko, Grossmont College Theatre Operations Facilitator. “She is a very good singer, she has played a number of roles and she does an outstanding job as our house manager. She’s established good working relationships with everyone here, and her organizational skills are excellent. We’re just so lucky to have her here.”

Besides being involved at the Grossmont College Theatre Department, Wallies has been working as vocal director at Clairemont High School, from where she graduated just three years ago. She also has performed with Theatre Alive! in downtown San Diego, and will be cast in its production of `Evil Dead, the Musical,’ from Oct. 24 thought Nov. 1.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Foundation steps up fundraising efforts with new staff

The Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges has stepped up its donor recruitment and fundraising efforts to benefit students with the hiring of new staff members.

Heather Cavazos
Lisa Connor is the director of development, a job that entails connecting with potential major donors. Heather Cavazos has been brought aboard as a development coordinator to plan events for the foundation’s retiree network and alumni association, as well as finding ways to increase community involvement in the philanthropic organization.

John Valencia, associate vice chancellor of Advancement and Communications for the district and CEO of the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges, said that engaging the community is crucial to developing a robust fundraising program to bolster the colleges.

“People need to feel a connection with the campuses in order to give and we need to facilitate that connection,” Valencia said. “People who are engaged give to things they care about. This is a first and crucial step in a comprehensive fundraising program.”

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Grossmont Middle College High School students score big

Four of the top high school seniors in the country are enrolled at the small Grossmont Middle College High School, according the latest results of a National Merit Scholarship competition.

            Three students – Devon Decker, Claire Negus and Ryan Zentmyer – have reached “commended” status; one – Finian Lickona – has reached the prestigious level of National Merit Scholarship semifinalist. With only 36 seniors at the school on the Grossmont College campus, that means more than 11 percent of the senior class has reached elite status in the nationwide competition involving some 1.5 million students.

            “We have a rigorous program, and I think these scores confirm the excellence we have here at the Middle College High School,” Grossmont Middle College High School counselor Sharon Neumann said.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Grossmont College's Hyde Art Gallery opens "Of the Element" exhibit Sept. 29

Local artists’ work will go on display in “Of the Element,” opening to the public Sept. 29 in the Hyde Art Gallery at Grossmont College, 8800 Grossmont College Drive in El Cajon.  The five local artists represented include David Fobes, Steve Gibson, Anne Mudge, Marisol Rendon and Robert Treat. Their work will be on display through Nov. 6.

 “This group exhibition examines one of the foundations of art – design,” said Jennifer Bennett, Associate Professor of Art at Grossmont College, who co-curated the exhibit with gallery director Prudence Horne. “The work on display explores subject, form and content through a selection of interdisciplinary artists. Specifically, there is a focus on artwork that selectively employs the art elements and the principles of design. It’s fascinating to discover how each artist approaches intention, process and practice, resulting in objects that engage in unique and surprising ways.”

An opening reception will be held from 5 – 7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 7, in the Hyde Art Gallery, located in building 25. The gallery will also host several of the exhibit’s artists to speak on their work and inspiration, including:
     11 a.m., Wednesday, Oct. 8, with Steve Gibson

     1:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 10, with David Fobes

     1:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 29, with Robert Treat

All events are free and open to the public. Complimentary parking for the opening reception will be available in Parking Lot 1; vehicles must park in designated stalls.
Hyde Art Gallery is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday, with the exception of legal holidays. Admission is free and open to the public. Visitor parking is available from the vending machine in Parking Lot 1, section F.

For more information, visit the gallery website at