Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Grossmont College's OTA students use ingenuity to help disabled

“Garden on the Go” 
For the past decade, a Grossmont College Occupational Therapy Assistant class has proven that necessity is indeed the mother of invention.

“Tip Grip To-Go” 
To help answer the perpetual question of what an occupational therapy assistant does, students each year put on a fair to demonstrate simple, low-cost devices they’ve created to make everyday tasks easier for family members and others with physical impairments.

The homemade adaptive devices like Brenda Guzman’s “Tip Grip To-Go,” and Patricia Ambrosia’s “Garden on the Go,” are the kind of inventions so simple and nifty that they often leave viewers wondering why they aren’t already in existence.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Grossmont, Cuyamaca colleges offering four-week intersession classes



Registration is now open for spring intersession classes at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges. Students attend classes Jan. 2-27 and can complete a course, including those satisfying general education requirements, in just four weeks.
The deadline for registering is Jan. 2. The cost of the courses is the same $46 per unit that applies for regular-session classes, with most classes meeting daily for 2.5 hours and earning students three units.
Registration for regular spring semester classes has also begun, with classes starting Jan. 29.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Grossmont College instructors a distinguished pair


Biology professor Michael Golden

A veteran biology professor and a German instructor at Grossmont have been selected by their peers as recipients of the 2017-18 Distinguished Faculty Awards for their excellence as educators and exemplary service to the college.

Biology instructor Michael Golden received the award for full-time faculty, and German instructor Astrid Ronke was picked for the adjunct award.
German instructor Astrid Ronke

College President Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh said the faculty awards recognize the two faculty members’ immeasurable contributions and their stellar work representing the excellence of Grossmont College.

 “Our students thrive because of the commitment and caring of faculty like Professor Golden and Dr. Ronke,” he said. “Grossmont College is truly fortunate to benefit from their knowledge and remarkable abilities to connect with their students.”

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Construction of new Center for Water Studies set to begin at Cuyamaca College


Cuyamaca College is set to begin construction on a state-of-the-art Center for Water Studies aimed at training the next generation of industry professionals to manage and operate California’s complex water and wastewater systems.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the first component of the project – the Field Operations Skills Yard – is scheduled for Nov. 9 at 9:30 a.m. next to the “L” Building at the Cuyamaca College campus, 900 Rancho San Diego Parkway, in Rancho San Diego. When completed, the Field Operations Skills Yard will include a fully operational, above-ground water distribution and an underground wastewater collection system that will enable students to apply their science, technology, engineering and mathematics knowledge in a learning-by-doing, career-preparation environment.
“Cuyamaca College is a leader in workforce training for the water and wastewater industry, and the Center for Water Studies will further strengthen our status as a trailblazer in the profession,” said Cuyamaca College President Julianna Barnes.
A California Community College Strong Workforce grant is providing $192,000 for the Field Operations Skills Yard. Additional contributions for the above-ground network of pipes, pumps, valves, meters and other equipment is being provided by donations from the waterworks industry. A National Science Foundation grant is providing $72,000.
The Field Operations Skills Yard is projected to be completed in time for spring semester classes.

Donald Jones
“These fully operational water and wastewater systems will be used to replicate many of the entry-level tasks employees perform as they begin their careers in the water and wastewater industry,” said Don Jones, the National Science Foundation grant manager who has helped spearhead the creation of Center for Water Studies. “It’s the culmination of a many years long pipe dream.”

The second component of the Center for Water Studies involves relocating Cuyamaca College’s Water & Wastewater Technology program to a renovated L Building, which sits next to the Field Operations Skill Yard and which will be transformed to house, among other things, a water quality analysis classroom and a shop area for backflow prevention and cross-connection control training. In addition, two other classrooms will be remodeled to accommodate approximately 40 water and wastewater technology students each.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Likaa Mohamad: A life dedicated to helping others

Likaa Mohamad
Her father was killed by kidnappers in Iraq and she would later spend more than three years as refugee in Jordan. But Likaa Mohamad is not looking for sympathy. The Cuyamaca College student is too busy focusing on dedicating her life to helping the less fortunate.

“I love people,” Mohamad says matter-of-factly. “I want to do what I can.”

The straight-A student is certainly on the right track. Mohamad is hoping to graduate in 2018 with at least two associate degrees – in child development and biology – before transferring to San Diego State University and then working at an orphanage her father founded in Nigeria.

“I grew up in a community of people with stature, doctors, scientists, researchers,” Likaa said. “But I never felt comfortable in that kind of setting. I feel more comfortable when I am with people who are living in poverty. I feel like I belong. I feel like I can make a difference.”


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Wheelchair Hoops Celebrated at Cuyamaca College

RANCHO SAN DIEGO – Cuyamaca College will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its Annual Wheelchair Basketball Game Oct. 25 with members of three local wheelchair basketball clubs teaming up with the men’s basketball team in honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
Sponsored by the Cuyamaca College Athletics Department, Associated Student Government of Cuyamaca College and Disabled Students Programs & Services, the annual contest will include players from the So Cal Sol, the San Diego Hammer and the San Diego Xpress National Wheelchair Basketball Association teams, along with the athletes, faculty and staff at the Rancho San Diego campus. Teams will comprise both wheelchair users and able-bodied athletes to demonstrate the strength and agility of those in chairs, leaving participants and viewers with a greater sense of appreciation for athletes with disabilities.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Grossmont College student Charles Harrington: Cooking up a bright future


Charles Harrington
Even while living in foster homes or on the streets, Charles Harrington was drawn to cooking, drawing inspiration from Food Network celebrities such as Rachel Ray and Bobby Flay. So when Harrington tired of the seemingly endless stream of minimum wage jobs and enrolled at Grossmont College, the Culinary Arts program was his first stop.

“It changed my life,” Harrington said.

Now the 32-year-old Spring Valley resident is on track to earn a certificate of achievement in baking and pastry next June, he’s working as a baker at San Diego State University, and he’s determined to open a delicatessen or perhaps a food truck.

He says he couldn’t have done any of it without Grossmont College, where he has secured a pair of scholarships to help support his dream.

“Every program I signed up for and everyone I saw, whether it was in counseling, EOPS, Umoja – it didn’t matter, they all helped make sure I was going to get where I needed to go,” Harrington said. “From the top administrators all the way to the teachers, they all want you to succeed.”


Friday, September 29, 2017

Civic leadership award presented to Bill and Judy Garrett



Judy and Bill Garrett
A new award honoring individuals who have made notable contributions to the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District and the East County community was presented last night to El Cajon residents Bill and Judy Garrett.

The recognition, named the Bill and Judy Garrett Civic Leadership Award, was presented to the Garretts to honor their leadership on district boards and their financial support of Grossmont and Cuyamaca College students.

“The Garretts have given tremendously of their time and their money, but most importantly their wisdom and leadership, to the college district,” said Chancellor Cindy L. Miles. “The contributions that Bill and Judy have made change lives every day around this college district.”


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Grossmont College career expo expands to add apprenticeships



Career- and job-minded students and the public can get a two-fer in the form of a career expo and apprenticeship fair at Grossmont College in October.


Grossmont College’s 39th Annual Career/Apprenticeship Expo is set for 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11, in the Main Quad.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Cuyamaca College's Ornamental Horticulture program helping to make a school's garden grow


Garden at Wegeforth
Elementary School
Cuyamaca College’s Ornamental Horticulture Department has helped transform an underutilized patch at a San Diego elementary school into a community reading garden and gathering spot where parents are getting to know each other and teachers are taking their lessons outdoors.

“Cuyamaca College was amazing,” said Wegeforth Elementary School Principal Lori Sandoval. “This project really came together beautifully and is a wonderful addition to our campus.”

The effort evolved following a recent natural gas leak prompted repairs that yielded an area at the front of the school near San Diego’s Montgomery Field into an afterthought. Sandoval and teacher Isabelle Farrell saw an opportunity to grow the site into a landscaped area where parents could congregate while waiting to pick up their children from school and where teachers could take their students for lessons al fresco. After the two secured a nearly $5,000 Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant for materials, they reached out to Cuyamaca College’s award-winning Ornamental Horticulture program for help in pulling off their vision.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Banned Books launches fall reading series

The Grossmont College English Department will launch its annual Fall Reading Series with its “Banned Books/Banned Lives” event that coincides with National Banned Books Week and takes place 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 28, in Griffin Gate.
“Banned Books/Banned Lives: #RISE” is a student-led reading that will feature spoken word poetry and performance prose by students, faculty and administrators that celebrate freedom of expression and raise awareness about censorship and persecution. Original works are paired with or inspired by resistance literature. The event is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Salsa Under the Stars at Grossmont College

If salsa music gets your hips swaying, but you’ve got two left feet on the dance floor, Grossmont College’s “Salsa Under the Stars” is just the perfect evening starting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 25.

Complete with free dance lessons an hour before the main event, the music department’s “Salsa Under the Stars,” is a fundraiser for student scholarships and a CD release celebration for music instructor and internationally known salsa bandleader, composer and recording artist Manny Cepeda.


Randy Voepel: From Grossmont College to the state Legislature



Randy Voepel
After serving eight years, eight months and 21 days in the Navy during the Vietnam War, Randy Voepel returned home to El Cajon in 1978 unsure about his future and with his mind affected by the horrors he had witnessed during his military service.
“I had PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), but I didn’t know it,” said Voepel, now an assemblyman representing eastern San Diego County in the state Legislature. “We didn’t know what it was. They simply said we were shell-shocked.”
Voepel enrolled in Grossmont College through the G.I. Bill and he credits his experience there with saving his life during that troubled time. He said having the goal of obtaining a college education, along with the support he received, helped him deal with the challenges he was facing.
Most importantly, he said, Grossmont College provided a place where he could connect with other veterans.
“I needed support and camaraderie with other veterans. Grossmont College provided that,” Voepel said. “I simply persevered. If a veteran gets up in the morning and perseveres, then they have a chance of success.”

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

World-Class Musicians Highlight 2017 Fall Concert Series at Cuyamaca College


Talk about taking it up a notch. The 2017 edition of the Fall Concert Series at Cuyamaca College will include a trio of world-class musicians from as far away as New York who will perform the first in an ongoing calendar of classic concerts underwritten by a well-known patron of the arts. 

             The Camera Lucida Piano Trio will play music by Mozart and Brahms during an Oct. 3 concert at the Cuyamaca College Performing Arts Theater. The Camera Lucida Piano Trio comprises pianist Reiko Uchida, who teaches at Columbia University in New York and who has appeared as a soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and a number of other orchestras around the world; violinist Jeff Thayer, who holds the Deborah Pate and John Forrest Concertmaster Chair of the San Diego Symphony; and internationally renowned cellist Charles Curtis, a graduate of Juilliard who teaches at UC San Diego.  

             The concert is being underwritten by Sam Ersan, who has helped transform the chamber music landscape of San Diego.
        

Monday, September 18, 2017

Michael Ryan: Overcoming the Odds at Cuyamaca College


Michael P. Ryan
Michael P. Ryan had just $800 in his pockets when he walked out of Chino Institution for Men a free man in the fall of 2015. Today, the 56-year-old East County resident who has spent more than half of his life behind bars is building a new future at Cuyamaca College, where he has a GPA just shy of 4.0, is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and is steadily moving toward a new career in the water and wastewater industry. 

Being named the new president of the American Water Works Association for the California-Nevada Section’s student chapter – which includes the likes of UC Davis, San Diego State University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas – won’t hurt him in reaching his career goal.

“I couldn’t have done any of this without the people and programs that are available here at Cuyamaca,” said Ryan, who hopes to transfer to San Diego State for a bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences. “Everything is top shelf, from the Health & Wellness Center to the counseling staff to the financial aid people and the auxiliary support. Everything and everyone is aimed at getting you what you need to succeed. I have nothing but good things to say about what is truly a great college.”

Ryan was among the Grossmont and Cuyamaca College students recognized Sept. 9 when he was awarded a $500 Osher Scholarship from the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges during a ceremony at the Cuyamaca College Performing Arts Theater.

“I’m honored by the recognition,” said Ryan. “I can’t say ‘Thank you’ enough.”

 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Jesus Suarez: Cuyamaca College student leader advocating for equity


Jesus Suarez
Jesus Suarez, the new Associated Student Government president at Cuyamaca College, has a passion for helping others and promoting equity for all.

Suarez was a force behind a new Contemplation Room at the campus Health & Wellness Center for those facing a crisis; was instrumental in establishing a food pantry for students who don’t have enough to eat; and was diligent in bringing frank discussions on topics such as the Black Lives Matter movement and feminism in the modern age to Cuyamaca’s Cross Cultural Center.

His dedication was recognized nationally in February when Suarez was just one of just six community college students from around the country named an Achieving the Dream scholar. 

“Keeping busy is good,” said Suarez, who turns 23 in November. “I’d rather be busy trying to contribute than sit around doing nothing.”

Keeping busy is a bit of an understatement.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Grossmont, Cuyamaca colleges celebrate Latino Heritage Month


United Dreamers will have a table at Cuyamaca's event.

The Grossmont College Latino Film Festival and a Cuyamaca College Latinx Heritage Celebration kick off an array of special events honoring Hispanic Heritage Month at the two East County colleges from mid-September to the end of October.

All events are open to the public and free, with the exception of “Salsa Under the Stars.”

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Racism, social justice, tolerance topics of Diversity Dialogues


Discussions on topics ranging from social justice to the unique cultural challenges facing Muslim immigrants in the region highlight Cuyamaca Colleges fall menu of Diversity Dialogues, which launches Sept. 14. 

Diversity Dialogues were developed by Lauren Vaknin, associate dean of student affairs at Cuyamaca College, in spring 2011. From initially offering three workshops that drew about 50 students, these days, up to 300 people mostly students -- attend the workshops each year.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Cuyamaca College instructor teaches pesticide safety in Guatemala

Cuyamaca College’s Don Schultz spent his summer vacation using his expertise to save some lives.
Don Schultz (center) with Guatemalan farmers 
Schultz, program director of the award-winning Ornamental Horticulture department at Cuyamaca College, volunteered with the Farmer-to-Farmer Program for two weeks in Guatemala instilling best practices in pesticide safety at plant exporters large and small. Some of the larger growers were as professional and safety conscious as they come. Some of the smaller ones? Not so much.
“At one farm, a guy was spraying paraquat without any protective equipment,” Schultz said, referring to the toxic chemical used for weed and grass control whose use the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies as restricted. “That stuff can kill you.” 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Cuyamaca, Grossmont colleges welcome donations to food pantries



Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges have long been filling the minds of students with knowledge. Now they are looking to help fill their stomachs as well, and are seeking the public’s help.

Studies, including a survey of the two colleges, have shown that food insecurity among college students is a significant problem, so the campuses are both setting up food pantries to help needy students. 


Cuyamaca College’s Harvest Pantry started Monday, the first day of the fall semester. Grossmont College’s Gizmo Kitchen kicks off Friday, Aug. 25, with a noon-2 p.m. grand opening in Griffin Gate in the student center. 

 Both pantries are located in health services offices in each college’s student center. (Bldg. 60-130 at Grossmont College; I-134 at Cuyamaca College.)


"These food pantries are critically needed at our colleges,” said Chancellor Cindy Miles. “We assist students in other ways through scholarships and emergency grants for unexpected expenses, but until now, we haven’t had the resources to help with basic sustenance. Students who are hungry can’t focus on their studies.”


Monday, August 21, 2017

Chaldean culture, food, traditions at Cuyamaca College



Leaders of the thriving Chaldean community in San Diego’s East County will be on hand for a special Chaldean Culture & Traditions celebration at Cuyamaca College on Monday, Aug. 28.
The event sponsored by the Cuyamaca College Student Affairs Office and the Associated Students of Cuyamaca College is set to start at 2 p.m. on the Grand Lawn. Highlights include an abundance of Chaldean food, music and dance. Among the scheduled speakers is Mar Bawi Soro, Vicar General for the Chaldean Catholic Cathedral, the seat for the Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle, in El Cajon.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

District builds its tradition of high marks for Prop. V construction program



The expansion of chiller plant at Grossmont College
For the third year in a row, the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District has received outstanding marks for providing open information about its Proposition V construction bond program.
 
The district received 24 out of 25 points possible from the San Diego Taxpayers Educational Foundation for the transparency of GCCCD’s Prop. V program. The taxpayers foundation released its annual transparency scorecard July 25 for the 23 school and college districts in San Diego County with active facilities bond programs.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Cuyamaca College student on track for medical school


Niall-Conor Garcia

You won’t find too many students aiming to go straight from a community college to medical school. But not too many community college students are like Niall-Conor Garcia.

The Cuyamaca College scholar already has a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Southern California and recently secured a master’s degree in professional composition and orchestration through an online program offered by the University of Chichester in Sussex, England. He’s even tried his hand at musical theater and wrote the soundtrack for a few independent films.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Boot camp for students studying STEM being held at Cuyamaca College


  Talk about starting off with a bang. 

 
Lab tech Niall-Conor Garcia poses as a victim as
Professor Laurie LeBlanc points to evidence
     
A STEM Summer Boot Camp introducing a group of Cuyamaca College students to the dedication required in studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics got under way July 24 with a classic whodunit – the discovery of a “victim” felled by a bullet and a directive to work as a team in collecting blood samples, analyzing DNA and engaging in an abundance of research over the following three weeks to solve the faux crime.
 

       Call it CSI Cuyamaca College. Seventeen students are taking part in the boot camp, which runs through Aug. 11 and involves extensive lab work combined with a crash course in technical reading and writing.  

    

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Cuyamaca College career education programs honored for boosting careers and earnings


      A trio of Cuyamaca College career education programs are being honored by the California Community Colleges system for providing students with the skills needed in new higher-paying jobs. 

Cuyamaca College Environmental Health & Safety class
       Cuyamaca’s Water & Wastewater Technology and Environmental Health & Safety programs were commended because virtually every student taking part in those career readiness efforts have found a job in their field of study and are boosting their earnings by 77 percent, according to data collected by the California Community Colleges. Cuyamaca’s Ornamental Horticulture program was commended because 76 percent of participating students working in the profession are earning the regional living wage.  

       “Cuyamaca College provides among the largest and most effective workforce development programs in East County, and we’re honored to be recognized by the California Community Colleges system for our efforts in providing students with the skills they need to find good jobs in a rapidly changing economy,” said Cuyamaca College President Julianna Barnes. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Ford ASSET graduates to navigate new roads

Graduates of Cuyamaca College's Ford ASSET program
Last week’s commencement of the first Ford ASSET graduates at Cuyamaca College since 2013 was a double cause for celebration. The 16 students were the first to graduate since the program was brought back from a two-year hiatus and a new class is set to begin in the fall with online innovations designed to draw students from beyond San Diego County.
Cuyamaca College’s automotive technology program, which enrolls an average of 300 students each semester, is highly regarded because of its industry-recognized certifications. In addition to strong support from Ford Motor Co. for the ASSET (Automotive Student Service Education Training) program, which provides vehicles, tools and a partnership with Cuyamaca College dating back to 1986, the automotive technology program also enjoys industry backing from General Motors for the GM ASEP (Automotive Service Educational Program).



Thursday, July 13, 2017

Register now for fall classes at Cuyamaca, Grossmont colleges


Grossmont College’s OPT program

With the start of fall semester Aug. 21, open registration begins next week for almost 30,000 students working toward university transfer, gaining workforce skills or broadening their knowledge at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges.
The cost of the courses is $46 per unit, with most classes offering three units of college credit. Online registration for regular semester classes opens July 17 for all students and ends Aug. 18.
The two colleges are offering more than 2,560 class sections this fall, up more than 5 percent from a year ago, and the most for a fall semester since 2008.  Both campuses offer a variety of traditional, short-term, online and hybrid classes. 


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Coveted trophy caps a golden year for Grossmont College athletics

The Chet DeVore trophy is surrounded by others from 2016-17.
The Grossmont College Griffins have added more hardware to their golden year of athletics.

A state community college championship in baseball has vaulted the college to the top to win the coveted Chet DeVore Trophy for the second straight year as the most successful men’s and women’s intercollegiate athletic program in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference.

In addition to the becoming the first community college in San Diego County to capture a state baseball title, Grossmont netted conference or division titles in six sports to
garner its third DeVore  trophy in the award’s eight year history. It also earned PCAC’s top athletic honor in 2013-14 to claim the trophy named after the late Chester S. “Chet” DeVore, the founding commissioner of the 12-college conference.

Monday, July 10, 2017

'Treasure Island' goes hip-hop at Grossmont College

Grossmont College’s 4th Annual Summer Theatre Arts Conservatory features a musical adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's “Treasure Island,” a classic swashbuckling tale of pirates, hidden riches, swordfights and daring escapes modernized with hip-hop music and dance.
 Opening 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 27, 2017, at the Stagehouse Theatre in Bldg. 21, and closing with a 2 p.m. performance Saturday, Aug. 5, the production features local high school and college actors and other students who worked as costume technicians and stagehands under the direction of the Grossmont College Theatre Arts Department. The two weeks of family-friendly performances cap an eight-week class in which students earn college credit and get a taste of working in theater while they learn from professional directors, choreographers and technicians.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

New student trustees seated on college district Governing Board


Kyrie Macogay
Brandon Vivero
Two San Diego County natives, both honors graduates of local high schools with plans to transfer to San Diego universities from community college, were officially seated Tuesday as new student trustees on the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Governing Board.
The student trustees, who are elected by their peers as non-voting board members, are Grossmont College student Brandon Vivero, and Cuyamaca College student Kyrie Macogay. The pair took their oaths of office for the one-year term at Tuesday night’s board meeting at Grossmont College.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Informational workshops for Grossmont College's OPT, allied health programs



Planning and orientation workshops for hallmark programs at Grossmont College in Office Professional Training and the health professions will be offered to the public starting this month.
Office Professional Training
 Job-seekers, including laid-off and dislocated workers, welfare recipients, single parents, and the long-term unemployed, should attend an informational meeting from 1-3:30 p.m. Monday, June 26 or from 9-11:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 25, for Grossmont College’s Office Professional Training program, which has trained thousands for office professional positions since the program’s inception in 1985. Seventy-five percent of graduates obtain full-time jobs at an average entry-level hourly wage of more than $12.
In addition to the informational meetings, a mandatory orientation is set for 8-11 a.m. Thursday, July 27.
To sign up for the workshops, and for parking and location information, call (619) 644-7247.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Grossmont College partners with OpenStax to promote free textbooks

Grossmont College today announced it is one of 11 schools chosen to participate in the 2017 - 2018 OpenStax Institutional Partnership Program to encourage use of free, peer-reviewed textbooks on campus.

Grossmont College was chosen to participate in this strategic partnership with OpenStax after a rigorous application process that included demonstrating willingness to drive adoption of open educational resources (OER). Institutional partners will receive individualized consulting from OpenStax and join a cohort of schools advocating widespread use of OER at their schools. Last year’s institutional partner schools have seen a 55 percent increase in the amount of students using OER, saving an additional $1.7 million in the coming academic year.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Graduates receive more than 4,830 degrees, certificates


Grossmont College commencement
The impact on lives that Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges have is never more apparent than on commencement day, when speakers talk about their first steps taken in their academic journeys and the encouragement they’ve received along the way.

And so it was at last week’s commencements, where two alums and two new graduates told audiences their personal stories, giving compelling accounts of their college experiences. 

Cuyamaca College commencement

In addition to heartfelt speeches, commencement at both colleges was a day for the record books.  Beating a record set just a year ago, Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges awarded 4,833 degrees and certificates to the class of 2017, a 13 percent increase over 2016.


With many students receiving multiple credentials, 1,581 graduates earned 3,744 degrees and certificates June 7 at Grossmont College. At Cuyamaca College, which held its commencement the following day, about 650 were awarded 1,089 degrees and certificates.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Bachelor's degree in elementary education being offered at Cuyamaca College


Students looking to become an elementary school teacher can earn a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Cuyamaca College through a new partnership launching this fall with one of the Midwest’s top regional public universities. 

    Under the agreement, Valley City State University (VCSU) in Valley City, N.D., will provide instruction both online and at Cuyamaca College to students who have earned an associate degree at the Rancho San Diego campus. A VCSU counselor will also be stationed at Cuyamaca College to work with students in setting up an educational plan. 

          The new program at Cuyamaca College comes at an opportune time, as the number of elementary school teachers in California, excluding those focusing on special education, is projected to grow by nearly 10 percent in the decade between 2014 and 2024. Elementary school teachers in California earn an annual average salary of $74,270, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, and $72,130 in San Diego County.  

          “Cuyamaca College is among the leaders in our region when it comes to workforce development, and partnering with VCSU will enable us to help fill a void in preparing students for careers as elementary school teachers,” said Cuyamaca College President Julianna Barnes. “We’re excited for the opportunity to work with a university that has a long history and stellar reputation in educating elementary school teachers across the country.” 

        

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Cuyamaca College grad Fadya Basha proves age is just a number


Fadya Basha
More than 2,100 students are graduating from Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges in June. Here is the story of one of them.


You’re never too old to learn. Just ask Fadya Basha, an Iraqi immigrant who, at age 74, will be the oldest graduate walking across the stage at Cuyamaca College’s June 8 Commencement. 

“If you are learning, you are growing,” said Basha, who has learned her way to an associate degree in Arabic Studies and Communication and Language Arts – with honors. “You have to always grow. You should always be learning.” 

Said her youngest son, Firas Najeeb, a dentist living in Las Vegas: “I’m really proud of her. She is a true inspiration for everybody in our family.” 

Basha said she was just looking to improve her English when she enrolled in a Cuyamaca College ESL class about seven years ago. Before too long, though, the ESL course led to other classes, including public speaking, speech and debate, and composition.  Then came courses in Arabic and mathematics, art and exercise. She began her journey in 2011, and would have graduated sooner, but she took time off on several occasions for the birth of a new grandchild. 


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Cheryl Mahone: Overcoming physical limitations to earn an associate degree at Grossmont College



Cheryl Mahone
Of the more than 1,500 graduates being celebrated at Grossmont College’s June 7 commencement, few have overcome the kind of challenges faced by 50-year-old Cheryl Mahone. 

Unable to walk and barely able to stand as her body yielded to the effects of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, Mahone kept pressing forward even after enduring two bouts of pneumonia and an encounter with the swine flu. Just getting to the El Cajon campus from her home in La Mesa meant a three-hour round trip aboard a special Metropolitan Transit System Access bus.  

No matter. Mahone graduates with a 3.98 grade point average, an associate degree in social and behavioral sciences and a ticket to San Diego State University, where she will enroll this fall as she moves closer to realizing her dream of earning a bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition and launching a career as a registered dietician working with the disabled. 

“My attitude is, God gave me this body, so I’m going to do the best I can to keep moving forward,” said Mahone, who added she will forever be grateful for the help she received along the way. 

“I couldn’t have done it without the people at Grossmont College,” Mahone said. “I was overwhelmed by the love and support I received as soon as I enrolled. They give you all that you need, everything from workshops for adult learners who are going back to school to a wonderful EOPS program to a tutoring center, a writing center, counselors. You name it.”

 


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Jovonda Reina: finding a home at Cuyamaca College


Jovonda Reina


More than 2,100 graduates will be receiving their degress and certificates from Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges in June. Here is the story of one graduate.




Jovonda Reina found her home at Cuyamaca College.  

She found her home at Cuyamaca College after being shuffled around so often as a foster child that she attended three different elementary schools in the second grade alone. She found her home at Cuyamaca College after serving for six years as a petroleum supply specialist in the Army National Guard. She found her home at Cuyamaca College after an epiphany led her on a path toward a career working with teens beset by mental health challenges. 

“I love the campus and I love the teachers here,” Reina said. “You really get to know your professors and they really get to know you. Everyone goes out of their way to make sure every student, no matter your background, feels at home and feels they are a part of the campus community. I can’t say enough about what Cuyamaca College has meant to me.”