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. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

College district has much to cheer about with new vice chancellor

Crediting community college for setting him on a quest for learning, Sean Hancock went on to attain two advanced degrees and top posts as a college administrator, and is now the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District’s first Vice Chancellor of Student and Institutional Success.

Hancock is responsible for coordinating districtwide educational services to promote student success and overseeing the District Services departments of Research, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness; Information Technology Services; and Community and Workforce Development.

Music reverberates with start of ECHO concert series

An assemblage of internationally-acclaimed musicians who have performed at symphony halls around the globe are lined up for the second season of the Cuyamaca College ECHO Chamber Music Series, which kicks off Oct. 11 with a 7:30 p.m. concert featuring a selection of Mozart violin sonatas.

 Performances are being underwritten by Sam Ersan, a vice chairman of the San Diego Symphony Board of Directors who has helped transform the chamber music landscape in San Diego County through his support of numerous classical musical organizations. Ersan is a major funder of the Mainly Mozart Festival, the force behind the Sam B. Ersan Chamber Music Fund at UC San Diego and the founder of the Camera Lucida piano quartet and the Myriad Trio. ECHO is an acronym for the East County Harmonics Organization.

Monday, October 1, 2018

'Swing Under the Stars' to raise music scholarship funds

The Grossmont College Music Department will host its first-ever Swing Under the Stars concert and student scholarship fundraiser on Thursday, Oct. 11, in the Main Quad of the East County community college. 

“Swing Under the Stars will raise much-needed funds for student scholarships,” said Derek Cannon, Music Department faculty and chair. “We hope our former students, local jazz fans and the East County community will come out to support our department.”

Swing Under the Stars will feature free swing dance lessons from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m., courtesy of Grossmont College Dance Adjunct Associate Professor Nancy Boskin-Mullen and Dance Department students. The JazzKatz Orchestra, a 14-piece big band ensemble lead by Grossmont College music alumnus Chaz Cabrera and lead vocalist Whitney Shay, will start at 7:30 p.m. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Grossmont College 40th Annual Career Expo a big draw

One of the oldest and largest community college job fairs in the county continues its successful run with the 40th Annual Career Expo at Grossmont College set for Wednesday, Oct. 10. It is free and open to the public.
 More than 100 employers and exhibitors are expected for the 10 a.m.-2 p.m. event in the Main Quad.
Several college programs will also be represented to make the event both a job fair and an opportunity to explore careers.  
“This long tradition has continued because of Grossmont College’s commitment to providing our students and the community with ever-expanding opportunities to explore the widest range of career options,” said President Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Outstanding faculty lauded by peers at Grossmont, Cuyamaca colleges

Three instructors at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges have been selected by their peers as among the academic year’s best faculty members. The honorees were announced at fall convocations in recognition of their exemplary service to the two East County campuses. 

Donald Jones, a part-time Water and Wastewater Technology instructor, was honored with the Outstanding Faculty Award for being a driving force behind the new Center for Water Studies at Cuyamaca College. At Grossmont College, English Department chair Oralee Holder was lauded with the full-time Distinguished Faculty Award and sociology instructor Richard Unis was named winner of the adjunct Distinguished Faculty Award. 

Chancellor Cindy Miles said it is the caring and commitment of faculty that have made Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges such stellar institutions. 

“These outstanding educational leaders have done so much for our colleges and have worked hard to make transformational changes in how students learn,” Miles said. “We are fortunate to have such dedicated faculty who are strongly committed to the success of students.”

Donald Jones
Jones began attending San Diego State University in the mid-1960s with aspirations to become a high school geography teacher and coach. But a summer job with the City of San Diego Water Department’s Lakes Recreation Program took him in another direction after finding that working the boat docks and maintaining the lakes better suited his love of the outdoors. 

He spent the next 42 years in the water industry, eventually running the San Diego Water Department’s safety and training program and becoming the safety and risk manager for the Vista Irrigation District in the mid-1990s until retiring in 2007. Over the years, he also continued his education, earning an associate degree from Grossmont College; a bachelor’s degree and graduate courses in Public Administration from SDSU, and a master’s degree in Human Resources and Organization from the University of San Francisco. 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Grossmont College to mark 40th anniversary of PSA Flight 182 crash

The 40th anniversary of the PSA Flight 182 crash in San Diego that killed 144 people and scattered wreckage and carnage across North Park will be remembered at an event Sept. 25 at Grossmont College.

Family members of those who perished, as well as first responders and PSA workers, will share their memories following a free, public screening of the documentary film, “Return to Dwight and Nile,” at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, at Grossmont College’s Griffin Gate, Building 60.

The event is being organized by Grossmont College History Professor Marty Ennis, who noted that what was at the time the deadliest air crash in the country was a uniquely San Diego story. The airline, Pacific Southwest Airlines, was based in San Diego and many aboard the doomed flight were PSA employees.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Grossmont, Cuyamaca colleges mark Latinx Heritage Month

Food, music and dance at Cuyamaca College and a visit at Grossmont College by nationally acclaimed poet Yosimar Reyes will highlight a series of special events honoring Latinx Heritage Month at the two East County colleges from mid-September to Nov. 1.
All events are free and open to the public.
Folklorico dancers at Cuyamaca College
 Karla GutiĆ©rrez, chair of Cuyamaca College’s World Languages department, will be the keynote speaker at a College Hour celebration outside of the B Buildingfrom 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, which will also feature ballet folklorico dancers and music by DJ Rambo.
“Being Latina is knowing that the road is tough, but also knowing that I can overcome any obstacle,” said GutiĆ©rrez, born and raised in Mexicali and a graduate of Imperial Valley College and San Diego State University.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Literary works celebrated at Grossmont College Fall Reading Series

       A celebration of banned books, readings from former rock groupie Pamela Des Barres and a collection of poetry crafted by Grossmont College Professor Joe Medina are among the highlights in this year’s annual Fall Reading Series at Grossmont College that continues Sept. 12 with an Open Reading at the college library.  
      The annual Fall Reading Series showcases literature, award-winning authors and others with an inspiration to write. Events are sponsored by the English Department and Creative Writing Program of Grossmont College, as well as a variety of other campus agencies and programs.
          “We believe it’s important to celebrate authors and poets of various genres and styles – and to engage the aspiring writers within our community, too,” said English Professor Daniela Sow. “There is an undeniable power in reading and listening to diverse voices and experiences.”

Monday, September 3, 2018

Celebrating 40 years of Cuyamaca College History: Teresa and Darren Greenhalgh

Teresa Greenhalgh is a pro when it comes to firsts. She was at Valhalla High School when it first opened in 1974. She was one of the first members of Steele Canyon Charter High School’s governing board. And she was among the first 1,947 students to enroll at Cuyamaca College when the campus opened 40 years ago Aug. 28.

She also met her husband and fellow first-year Cuyamaca College student, Darren, at the campus. These days, both are among the dedicated Cuyamaca College faculty and staff celebrating the campus’s 40thanniversary this year: Darren Greenhalgh is an adjunct engineering instructor; Teresa is a full-time assistant overseeing Cuyamaca College’s Hispanic Serving Institution Title III grant.

“This is such a wonderful campus,” Teresa said. “Everything I do here is aimed at helping to repay what I experienced at this great school.”

Friday, August 31, 2018

Diversity Dialogues workshops take aim at prejudices and racism

Microaggressions and cultural misunderstandings are among the topics tackled this fall when Cuyamaca College launches its latest series of Diversity Dialogues with a Sept. 13 workshop focusing on latent biases.

The fall season of Diversity Dialogues begins less than two months after Cuyamaca became the first community college in San Diego County to earn the prestigious John W. Rice Diversity & Equity Award from the California Community Colleges system. Cuyamaca was honored for an accelerated pathways program that is eradicating achievement gaps and significantly boosting the numbers of students completing required math and English courses.

“Cuyamaca College prides itself on being a welcoming campus where different cultures are celebrated, not condemned, where different languages are treasured, not buried, and programs such as Diversity Dialogues continue to enlighten and educate our students, faculty, staff, and surrounding community,” said Cuyamaca College President Julianna Barnes.

All workshops, which are free and open to the public, take place in Room I-207 of the Student Center.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Anonymous donation to fund future scholarships at Cuyamaca College's Automotive Technology program

An anonymous San Diego County couple motivated by a desire to give back to the community has pledged $100,000 to help students at Cuyamaca College’s award-winning Automotive Technology program fund their education.

           The couple, who once attended a community college, said they hope the new ‘Pay It Forward Scholarship Program’ funded through their planned gift will ensure that any student with an interest can secure the training needed to thrive in an increasingly technologically complex industry with good-paying, in-demand jobs.

           “Thousands of students come to Cuyamaca College every year for the education and skills they need to secure well-paying jobs and better their lives, and we are absolutely thrilled this amazing couple is providing such a generous gift to our Automotive Technology program,” said Cuyamaca College President Julianna Barnes. “So many of our students need additional financial support to meet their educational goals, so this new scholarship program will be a huge difference maker.”


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

District's Proposition V bond program lauded as model of transparency

The Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District has received a perfect score on the transparency of its information about the Proposition V construction bond program.

The East County college district was one of eight San Diego County school and college districts, out of 23 with school bonds that were rated, to receive a perfect rating by the San Diego County Taxpayers Educational Foundation. This is the fourth year that the district has received outstanding marks for its bond program.

The district was also noted as one of the “models of success” for its timely dissemination of information, and the foundation urged other school districts to follow the model in providing information about their bond programs. The district’s Proposition R and V website was praised for its organization and user-friendly interface so that information can easily be found.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Fall concert series begins at Cuyamaca College

A wide range of musical styles - from Korean folk to the soundtrack of Guardians of the Galaxy - is coming to Cuyamaca College's Samuel M. Ciccati Theatre courtesy of the the annual Fall Concert Series that launches Aug. 27.
Most performances begin at 7:30 p.m., with ticket prices set at $10 for general admission and $5 for students and seniors, unless otherwise noted. Guests can call (619) 660-4288 for reservations, and the first 20 students who attend are admitted for free.
  • The Fall Concert Series kicks off Monday, Aug. 27, when jazz pianist extraordinaire Chase Morrin, who gave the premiere performance at the theater when it opened 10 years ago, returns with DoYeon Kim, a South Korean virtuoso on the gayageum, a traditional instrument of her homeland, for a selection of their original award-winning music.
  • The Jeff Tower Memorial Quartet, named after the late Hemet High school icon who taught scores of students who went on to careers as music educators or performers, performs Friday, Sept. 21. The band, led by Hemet High School alumnus and Cuyamaca College Performing Arts Chair Taylor Smith, is comprised of graduates of the high school's program, some who also attended the Idyllwild Arts Academy. Tower died on July 4, 2017. Under his leadership, the Hemet High School band recorded several albums and performed across the world.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Dramatic fusion of jazz, Korean music coming to Cuyamaca

Chase Morrin, DoYeon Kim perform as GaPi
Ten years ago, a then-13-year-old Chase Morrin gave the premiere performance at Cuyamaca College’s jewel of a theater, now known as the Samuel M. Ciccati Performing Arts Center.

On Monday, Aug. 27, Morrin returns at 7:30 p.m. to Cuyamaca College to perform the music of GaPi, an enthralling fusion of jazz and Korean folk music that last year won the Korean equivalent to a Grammy. It is the first concert of the college’s fall semester. 

What started as a friendship at the New England Conservatory in Boston turned into a full-fledged collaboration between the former child prodigy-turned-jazz pianist and composer and DoYeon Kim, a South Korean virtuoso on the gayageum, a traditional instrument of her homeland.  Morrin, 24, and Kim released their first album of original compositions in 2017 and toured South Korea, where they were nominated for best Jazz Cross-over at the 2017 Korean Music Awards.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Cuyamaca helps auto tech students navigate toward jobs

Cuyamaca College’s Automotive Technology program and a coalition of independent repair shops are primed to launch a new associate degree program that will enhance paid hands-on training opportunities and lead to more jobs for graduates.

The Automotive Service Councils of California (ASCCA) Associate of Science Degree program is the state’s first associate degree program that combines classroom and online teaching with on-the-job training at independent repair shops. The program will kick off at 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7, at Cuyamaca College’s Student Center in room I-207 . High school and college auto tech instructors and shop owners are encouraged to attend the free event, part of a three-day conference of ASCCA, the largest independent automotive repair council in the state whose members represent all areas of the auto repair industry.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Lina Abdulnoor: Cuyamaca College alumna has sights set on medical school

Lina Abdulnoor
She is a research assistant at UC San Diego’s Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, she was invited to the prestigious National Collegiate Research Conference at Harvard University, and she once served as an emergency room volunteer at UCSD Medical Center – Hillcrest. 

Meet Cuyamaca College alumna Lina Abdulnoor, who earned her bachelor’s degree in physiology and neuroscience from UCSD with the Class of 2018. Now she has her sights set on medical school.

Not bad for an Iraq War refugee whose family was targeted during the height of the chaos and who didn’t know more than a few words of English when she moved to El Cajon in the spring of 2013. 

“I try not to worry too much about all that,” Abdulnoor said. “I’m mostly focused on my studies and getting into medical school.”

“Lina is an inspiration,” said Cuyamaca College Biology Professor Kathryn Nette, who also serves as chair of the Science & Engineering Department. “Despite all of the incredible challenges in her life, Lina did all the right things, participating in every event that we held and in multiple student laboratory research programs. She went far over and above the minimum requirements as a student, and that will pay off for her in the future. I have no doubt that she will achieve all of her goals in life, and that she will be a role model for future Cuyamaca students.”

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Drama and comedy as Grossmont College 2018-19 Theatre Arts season gets underway

The critically acclaimed masterpiece “Arcadia,” an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Goloshes of Fortune,” and the dramatic comedy “She Kills Monsters” are among the classics headlining the Stagehouse Theatre’s 2018-19 season at Grossmont College.

Season and individual tickets are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased by calling (619) 644-7234 or by visiting . Parking is free.      
The new season opens with a production of “Arcadia,” a 1993 play written by Tom Stoppard delves into the relationship between past and present, order and disorder, certainty and uncertainty. Directed by Beth Duggan, “Arcadia” will be performed Oct. 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 6 and 13 at 2 p.m. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Build a future through Grossmont College's ironworkers apprenticeships

If joining the ranks of well-paid ironworkers piques your interest, Grossmont College is partnering with Ironworkers Local 229 to offer a two-week pre-apprenticeship program to introduce trainees to the field, after which they may be selected as paid apprentices with starting salaries and benefits  totaling nearly $30 an hour.

Ironworkers are in the construction trades building the structural steel framework of metal buildings, stadiums, arenas, hospitals, towers and bridges. Journeymen earn salary packages totaling nearly $70 an hour.  

The start dates for this year’s remaining two-week pre-apprenticeship sessions are July 27 and Oct. 12. The first cohort of 10 trainees completed the pre-apprenticeships in June, with all hired for the next phase as paid apprentices. A fourth cohort will start Feb. 22, 2019. The training combines hands-on learning with classroom work from 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday at the Ironworkers Training Center at 3888 Beech St. in the Fairmount Park neighborhood of San Diego.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Cuyamaca College receives state diversity and equity award

Representatives from Cuyamaca College at the Dr. John W. Rice
Diversity & Equity Award ceremony
Cuyamaca College is one of two California community colleges to be honored today with the 18th annual Dr. John W. Rice Diversity & Equity Award for its innovative program that markedly increased the number of students who completed their math and English classes.

Cuyamaca College President Julianna Barnes and other representatives from the college received the award from Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento. Santa Barbara City College was also honored for a program that assists single parent students who are new or returning to college.


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Open registration starts for fall semester at Grossmont, Cuyamaca colleges

With the start of fall semester Aug. 20, open registration is just days away for almost 30,000 students working toward university transfer, training for high-skill jobs or expanding their horizons 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 9 for all students and ends Aug. 19.

For first-time college students, the fall semester kicks off the much-anticipated Grossmont-Cuyamaca College Promise, which provides a year of tuition-free classes at either campus with the pledge to complete orientation, assessments and devising an education plan, and maintaining at least a 2.0 GPA as a full-time student.

Monday, July 2, 2018

"Beauty and the Beast: A New Musical" takes center stage at Summer Theatre Arts Conservatory

Beauty and the Beast: A New Musical is coming to the Grossmont College Stagehouse Theatre from July 26 through Aug. 4 as part of the annual Grossmont College Summer Theatre Arts Conservatory.

Adapted by Jeannette Thomas from Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve’s “La Belle et la Bete,” Beauty and the Beast: A New Musical continues the Summer Theatre Arts Conservatory’s tradition of mixing classic storytelling with modern music. Tickets are selling at a rapid pace and three performances already are sold out.

Now in its fifth year, the summer conservatory allows student performers and technicians to learn what it’s like to work in a professional theatre in daytime and evening classes. Students are taught specialized skills that include acting, costume design, lighting, set design and marketing at one of the most respected college theatre programs in the region. The program is free for the nearly 50 high school and college students taking part.

“The Grossmont College Theatre Arts Department includes a number of working professionals who are well known in the local arts community, and the summer conservatory is a great opportunity for both high school and college students to learn from the best while earning college credit,” said Beth Duggan, chair of the Theatre Arts Department. “We are really pleased with this year’s production, which promises to best one yet.”

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

DJ travels from Rwanda to Grossmont College to share story

For three years, Olivier Ndacyayisenga, a DJ who lives in Rwanda, has been communicating by Skype with Grossmont College summer students about the culture and heartrending history of his African country. Now, with the help of two faculty members, Olivier will talk in person at Grossmont College about the Rwandan genocide and deliver a simple message: that hope exists even in the face unthinkable tragedy. 

Olivier will be speaking from 3 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 28 at Grossmont College’s Griffin Gate. The public is invited to the free event, sponsored by Grossmont College's World Arts Culture Committee.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Erica Abraham: First graduate of Cuyamaca College's viticulture apprenticeship program

Erica Abraham
Erica Abraham realized her life’s passion while picking Syrah grapes in a Fallbrook vineyard.

“Everything changed that day when I harvested my first 100 pounds of grapes,” she said. “I knew that morning standing in the vineyard that winemaking and grape-growing was what I wanted to do. It made my heart sing.”

On June 4, Abraham became the first graduate of Cuyamaca College’s groundbreaking viticulture apprenticeship program, the only program of its kind in California that equips students with a firm understanding about all aspects of wine production, from growing the grapes to pouring the drink.

“This program completely transformed my career path,” Abraham said moments before she accepted her California Division of Apprenticeship Standards certificate and trade card.

The 3,000 hours of training and 14.5 units of coursework has prepared Abraham for work as an independent consultant to a growing legion of wine makers in the region, including those who have turned to growing wine grapes as a hobby.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Graduating classes set records at Grossmont, Cuyamaca colleges

Grossmont College commencement
Commencement is always a day of celebration and promising futures as students take part in a time-honored processional, while families and friends cheer and beam with pride.

This year’s graduation ceremonies at Cuyamaca and Grossmont colleges were ones for the record books as a highest-ever 2,600 graduates received more than 5,500 degrees and certificates on June 6 and 7. These numbers translate into a 23 percent increase in the number of graduates and a 20 percent hike in the number of degrees and certificates compared to 2017’s record-setting numbers.

Cuyamaca graduate

With many students receiving multiple credentials, more than 800 graduates earned 1,300 degrees and certificates June 6 at Cuyamaca College’s 40th annual commencement. College President Julianna Barnes noted that Cuyamaca’s first graduating class numbered fewer than 40. 

At Grossmont College’s 57th annual ceremony the following day, nearly 1,800 graduates were awarded more than 4,200 degrees and certificates, the most credentials granted among all the community colleges in the region, President Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh noted after welcoming the crowd in English, Spanish and Arabic. 

After 16 years, Grossmont College student reaches graduation

Ricky German and President Abu-Ghazaleh
Born with cerebral palsy, just getting to campus every day was a major undertaking for Grossmont College student Ricky German.

On June 7, after 16 years of arriving at the college at 6:30 a.m. to make it to his classes on time and facing daily challenges that to most are a matter of routine, the 37-year-old business major finally accomplished his dream. 

German joined the 1,800 members of Grossmont College’s class of 2018 in a time-honored processional and the long-awaited tassel turn, signifying his status as a college graduate.

German’s academic progress was impeded by recurring hospitalizations and setbacks, but he remained steadfast in striving for his associate degree. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Tazz Phillips: A troubled past didn't hold him back

Tazz Phillips
Tazz Phillips is the picture of success. He graduated from Grossmont College with a near-perfect grade point average, then went on to graduate with honors from San Diego State University. He’ll be starting at the police academy soon on his path to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a police officer.

His accomplishments are all the more remarkable when Phillips describes his tumultuous childhood that included parents who were drug addicts and alcoholics, five years in foster care, and two years of homelessness.Phillips said he always had the goal of bettering his life, and he never wavered from it no matter what was happening to him.

“It’s just effort and determination,” he said. “You’ve got to have the grit to do something. You have to disregard the negativity in your life.”

Phillips, a 22-year-old El Cajon resident, recently spoke to a group of students from Grossmont Union High School District schools who were visiting Grossmont College to learn more about the advantages of attending the college. The high school students’ visit was organized through the East County Education Alliance, the partnership between the high schools and the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District to inspire more students to attend college and to provide a seamless path for them on their education journey. More than 370 students from six East County high schools visited Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Dalia Valencia: Cuyamaca College was the right move for her

Dalia Valencia
More than 2,500 students will be graduating from Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges in June 2018. Here's the story of one remarkable graduate.

As an honors student in high school who had racked up more than her share of AP courses, Dalia Valencia was all set to enroll at one of the many universities she had been accepted to – until her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Once not even an afterthought, Cuyamaca College, close to her family’s home in Jamul, was suddenly her only option.

Enrolling at the Rancho San Diego campus turned out to be one of the best moves Valencia has made in her 19 years. The honors student is earning her associate degree in psychology with a GPA just shy of 4.0, and now she’s leaving for San Diego State University to continue her studies with a goal of becoming a clinical psychologist.

“When I first decided to come here, a lot of the people at my high school didn’t hold Cuyamaca in high esteem, and I kind of felt a little bit let down,” Valencia said. “But this college helped me find my way. I love how small it is. I love how everyone is so connected. And I love how everyone is here to help you out.”

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Conference to educate educators on teaching economics and personal finance

        The San Diego Center for Economic Education at Cuyamaca College is co-hosting a three-day course on economics and personal finance in late June that is designed for high school and community college instructors in building impactful lesson plans for their students.
           Titled Building Blocks for Economic Education, the June 27-29 session at the University of San Diego is presented by the San Diego Center for Economic Education at Cuyamaca College in association with the California Council on Economic Education and the Federal Reserve banks of Atlanta, Dallas, San Francisco and St. Louis. High school and community college instructors attending the symposium will learn about effective interactive lessons, emphasizing infographics and utilizing other tools that can meet any teaching style pertaining to economics and personal finance.
           Registration is $299 per person, but scholarships are available. Daily sessions are scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Further information can be obtained by emailing Joshua Mitton at the California Council on Economic Education at Registration fees include housing and after-class excursions at Old Town San Diego State Park and San Diego Harbor.
           Deadline for registration and payment is June 1. Registration can be completed online through the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis website at
           The San Diego Center for Economic Education at Cuyamaca College trains scores of elementary and high school teachers each year on the best methods for teaching economics in the classroom and how to infuse economics into other subject areas such as history or geography. The San Diego Center for Economic Education is the only one of 11 such centers in the state that is located at a community college.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Grossmont Theatre student makes professional debut at Cygnet

Karli Cadel photography/Demetrius Clayton
Grossmont College Theatre Arts student Demetrius Clayton has seen a bit of the world as a Marine Corps vet, but he describes his first professional role in the Cygnet Theatre production of “The Wind and the Breeze” as a real jaw-dropper.
“It’s been life-changing; it really has opened my eyes to how much I have left to accomplish as an actor,” he said about his role as Shantell, a fast-food worker with aspirations to win fame as a hip-hop emcee, in the rap-infused work by Juilliard-trained playwright Nathan Alan Davis, which continues through June 10. “I have been around so much talent it’s really cool to just soak that up and sometimes, I catch myself doing that.”

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Something for everyone in summer session classes

This summer’s classes at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges offer something for everyone, from recent high school graduates to working adults or those looking to get into shape with a variety of health and fitness classes.  

Most classes begin June 11 and are four, six or eight weeks long. Registration continues through June 10, but some classes offer late registration until the end of the first week of classes. Class schedules and information about enrollment at both Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges are available at 

All classes cost $46 a unit for California residents, or $138 for the average class. Financial aid, online application and registration are available. 

There’s more scheduling flexibility than ever, with both colleges offering online and hybrid classes, as well as evening classes to accommodate busy schedules.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Fernando Lucero: Finding Redemption at Cuyamaca College

Fernando Lucero
More than 2,500 students are graduating from Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges in June 2018. Here is the story of one remarkable graduate.

Fernando Lucero found his path at Cuyamaca College. The former gang member who survived a drive-by shooting and who was once kicked out of high school because of his grades is thriving at Cuyamaca College, is earning an associate degree in communication and is preparing to transfer to San Diego State University in the fall. 
“I knew I wanted to go to college and I knew I wanted to pursue my education, but I had no idea where to start,” Lucero said. “Cuyamaca helped me find my way. This school helped me develop my wings so I could fly.” 
Now he’s helping others at Cuyamaca College develop their wings. Although his next chapter in life will take him a few miles west to earn a bachelor’s degree in Chicana and Chicano Studies at San Diego State, Lucero will continue working as a student mentor at the Cuyamaca College Pathway Academy. The program helps first-generation students and those from underrepresented communities navigate the journey to a degree, certificate or four-year college or university. 

Friday, May 25, 2018

Grossmont-Cuyamaca College Promise introduced at joint high school-college board meeting

The governing boards of two East County high school and college districts are making a promise to high school seniors: commit to your college success, and you will receive a free year of tuition at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges.

At the fourth annual joint meeting of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District and the Grossmont Union High School District boards, the new Grossmont-Cuyamaca College Promise was unveiled.

GUHSD and GCCCD governing board members and leaders
The Promise will begin in fall 2018 for first-time college students who are attending full time. It is being funded as the result of state legislation enacted last fall.

To receive the Promise, students must:

  • Be a first-time college student.
  • Sign the Promise Pledge
  • Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or a California Dream Act application.
  • Complete the college onboarding process, which includes application, orientation, assessment and developing an education plan.
  • Register as a full-time student at Grossmont or Cuyamaca College – at least 12 credit units per semester.
  • Maintain a 2.0 grade point average in the fall semester of college to be eligible for the spring.
    In 2016-17, almost 25 percent of the approximately 5,900 graduates from the 12 Grossmont Union High School District schools attended Grossmont or Cuyamaca College.
    “With the Grossmont-Cuyamaca College Promise, many more students will have the opportunity to pursue their dream of getting a higher education,” said Cindy Miles, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District. “We are excited about transforming the lives of students and their families, and creating a better-educated workforce for East County.”

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Gustavo Gonzalez Herrera: Following a Dream to Serve Others

Gustavo Gonzalez Herrera
Gustavo Gonzalez Herrera has wanted to become a doctor since he witnessed the lack of medical care afforded to the poor while growing up in a Tijuana family barely able to feed itself. Thanks to Grossmont College, he may reach his dream. 

“I want to make a difference,” said Gonzalez, 24, a biology major who is carrying a 4.0 GPA and plans to transfer to UC San Diego. 

He’s making a difference at Grossmont College, where his dedication and academic success led the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges to recently award him with a $500 Barnes & Noble Scholarship to pay for textbooks.

For a student enveloped by poverty as a child, the scholarship will have a profound impact. Gonzalez grew up dirt poor in Tijuana, one of three boys being raised by a single mom. The family for one year lived in a church, with his mother taking care of more than a dozen orphans in exchange for having a place to raise her children. 

“My mom had enough money to feed us, but not much beyond that,” Gonzalez said.

Still, Gonzalez and his brothers often resorted to sorting through Dumpsters for leftovers from a grocery distribution center, carefully sorting edible fruits and vegetables from spoiled produce.

Despite the challenges, Gonzalez never wavered from his studies nor did his commitment to become a medical professional.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Agreement allows Grossmont and Cuyamaca College graduates to earn bachelor's degree at Prague university

Anglo American University
An agreement signed between the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District and a Prague university will allow graduates who have earned a degree from one of the two East County colleges to continue their education in the Czech Republic.

The district’s agreement with Anglo American University (AAU) will provide an opportunity for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in a program that is less expensive than a California State University and can be completed more quickly. In addition, students could experience a part of the world they might not otherwise have known, said Alan Krautstengl, president emeritus of AAU.

“Students would have an international experience, setting them apart from the competition,” he told the district’s Governing Board when the agreement was approved May 15. “Spending time in a completely different environment gives them an edge.”

AAU, a not-for-profit university founded in 1990, is the first independent European institution to be accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, one of six regional accrediting agencies in the United States. The university, located in a restored palace in the historic center of Prague, enrolls almost 1,000 students from more than 70 countries.

The university offers 14 undergraduate and graduate programs, and all courses are taught in English. Most classes are small, with a ratio of eight students per instructor.

Classes at AAU cost $250 per credit unit, compared to $396 per unit at San Diego State University. Krautstengl said students with outstanding academic records in their first semester are offered extensive financial support, and students with perfect or near-perfect GPAs at 3.9 or above pay no tuition.

The cost of living in Prague is also a bargain, he said. Students typically pay $300 to $400 a month for a room, and a year of medical insurance costs $500.

The university has an accelerated pathway for students with Grossmont and Cuyamaca College associate degrees so they can earn a bachelor’s degree with just 45 credits in three semesters. For those who want to continue their education in Prague, AAU also offers a master’s in business administration degree through Chapman University.

“This is a unique opportunity for our graduates,” said Cindy L. Miles, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District. “It will add value to their education and give them an enriching international experience they will remember for the rest of their lives.”