Wednesday, December 20, 2017

District's partnership with Point Loma Nazarene University leads to diplomas

The first cohort of students earning a bachelor’s degree through a partnership between Cuyamaca College and Point Loma Nazarene University secured their diplomas during a Dec. 16 commencement – just 15 months after the affiliation was launched.

Graduates celebrate at PLNU's Dec. 16 commencement
            “I couldn’t be happier,” said Stephanie Iniguez, 24, a Cuyamaca College graduate who earned her bachelor’s degree from PLNU in child development. “I knew after earning my associate degree from Cuyamaca that I would continue pursuing my education, but I didn’t know exactly where I was going to go. When the Point Loma Nazarene partnership came up, the timing was perfect. The fact that you could finish in 15 months is amazing, and being able to take all of your classes either at Cuyamaca or online makes it especially convenient.”

            The PLNU program offering bachelor of arts degrees in child development and in organizational management without having to leave the Cuyamaca College campus began in the fall of 2016 and were the first baccalaureate programs ever offered from the Rancho San Diego campus. All 10 students who enrolled in the child development program when it began took part in the Dec. 16 commencement; seven of the eight who enrolled in the organizational management program earned their degree.


Both programs accept up to 84 community college transferrable credit units to complete the 120 units needed to graduate. A separate agreement with Valley City State University in Valley City, N.D., enables students aspiring to become an elementary school teacher to earn a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Cuyamaca College through a partnership that began this fall.

            The partnership between PLNU and the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District began in 2015, when Grossmont College collaborated on an innovative program that allows graduates of Grossmont College’s nursing program to earn their bachelor’s degree in nursing through PLNU.              Fifty-eight students have gone on to earn their bachelor’s degree in nursing since then. In 2016, Grossmont College added a second baccalaureate degree through PLNU in computer information technology, and 16 students are on track to earn a bachelor’s degree through that partnership.

            In all, 134 students at Grossmont College have earned or are on their way to earning a bachelor’s degree through the PLNU partnership, and an additional 44 students at Cuyamaca College have earned or are on their way to earning a bachelor’s degree with PLNU.           “Over the past two years PLNU's partnership with the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District has grown significantly,” said Dave Phillips, Dean of Extended Learning at PLNU. “The collaboration between our institutions has brought new baccalaureate degree options to students throughout the eastern portions of San Diego County. Together we have been able to meet the needs of local students and address regional workforce needs in an accessible and affordable model.”

            Baccalaureates offered through PLNU’s College of Extended Studies are designed to fit the needs of working adults, with classes taught either entirely online or as hybrid classes combining once-weekly night classes with online instruction.             “Our partnership with Point Loma Nazarene University underscores Cuyamaca College’s commitment to creating additional pathways for students to reach their educational and career goals, and we couldn’t be happier for our students who have gone on to earn their bachelor’s degree through this program,” said Cuyamaca College President Julianna Barnes.

            Kathia Bustamante, 43, has been working as a preschool teacher for the past two decades while taking courses off and on at a few community colleges in the region to brush up on her skills. When she learned she could earn a bachelor’s degree in child development from PLNU at Cuyamaca College, she immediately signed up.

            “Cuyamaca is two miles away from my house, I only had to be on campus once a week, and the price was affordable,” said Bustamante, who graduated summa cum laude. “It was everything I needed, and I’ve been wanting to earn a bachelor’s degree forever.”

            Why a bachelor’s degree when she was already firmly ensconced in her career?

            “The field is growing so much and the expectations are increasing all the time, so you have to keep learning to stay on top of things and if you want to contribute as an advocate for the field.” 

            Iniguez agreed. “A bachelor’s degree broadens your options. It opens the doors to a lot of opportunities.”

               For more information about the PLNU baccalaureate program, contact Zuzanna Blaz at or (619) 288-7791.