Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Two new student trustees join Governing Board

Mohammed Alyasini

Two new student trustees will be taking their seats on the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Governing Board this month.

The student trustees, who are elected by their peers as non-voting Governing Board members, are Grossmont College student Samantha Elliot and Cuyamaca College student Mohammed “Mo” Alyasini. 

Samantha Elliot

Elliot and Alyasini’s presence on the board comes at a pivotal time for the district, poised for a November general election that will determine whether additional debilitating state budget cuts are in store. Community colleges statewide are calling for public support of Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal for temporary tax increases, saying its loss in the November election would trigger $300 million in cuts to the two-year college system on top of the $502 million loss already taken for the current academic year.
“During this prolonged period of budget losses that have meant cutting hundreds of course offerings at our colleges alone, it’s never been more crucial to listen to the voices of student trustees,” Governing Board President Bill Garrett said. “We are also counting on these student representatives to engage their peers in a campaign to help community colleges get back on track in providing open access to higher education. A highly trained and well-educated workforce will inject vigor back into California’s economy.”
Alyasini, an economics and business major beginning his sophomore year in the fall, said his biggest concern for students today is their ability to prepare for university transfer within two years.

“If a student surpasses the two-year mark, a lot of schools won’t even consider them for transfer,” said the Cuyamaca representative, who aspires to earn a master’s in business administration to pursue a career in investment banking. “These budget cuts are making it harder and harder for students to meet this milestone.”
Born in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, Alyasini moved to the United States at age 4. The son of a U.S. Army Ranger, he lived in six states and attended 14 different schools by the time he was in high school. He has called San Diego home since 2003, and graduated from Valhalla High School near El Cajon.
Alyasini said his interest in becoming a student trustee was sparked by his service as vice president of the Associated Students of Cuyamaca College.
“That really opened my eyes to the untapped power that students had in making large-scale decisions on behalf of their education,” he said. “I felt as though it was a personal duty to become as involved as possible to provide a larger platform to lobby for students’ wants and needs.”
Elliot, a Grossmont College student whose broad range of study includes American Sign Language; mythology and world religions; and public policy and administration, said she looks forward to engaging student voices and getting them more involved in their educational futures. She has been active with the Associated Students of Grossmont College and the Student Senate for California Community Colleges.
Elliot said rising enrollment fees, the availability of classes and textbook costs as the greatest concerns of today’s students.
“The biggest challenge I envision for this year, given the fiscal condition of the state, will be ensuring that the district is able to provide quality and affordable education for students,” Elliot said.
In addition to student government and advocacy, the San Diego native and Valhalla High School graduate has participated in Grossmont College’s theater program as well as in community theater. Professionally, she hopes to pursue a career in deaf education or as a college instructor.