Thursday, December 27, 2018

Cuyamaca College Center for Water Studies Holds 2nd Annual Women in Water Symposium

Girls and women interested in learning about career and advancement opportunities in the water and wastewater industry are encouraged to register for the Cuyamaca College Center for Water Studies’ 2ndannual Women in Water – Exploring Career Pathways symposium on Jan. 17.

The all-day conference comprises two tracks of speakers: one for women contemplating a career change, military veterans transitioning to civilian life, and women already in the water and wastewater industry who are seeking professional development opportunities; the second for scores of high school girls in the region wanting to learn more about career opportunities as they near graduation.

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Deputy General Manager, Sandy Kerl, will be the keynote speaker. Lan Wiborg, Deputy Director of Long-Range Planning and Water Resources for the City of San Diego, will moderate a general manager’s panel discussion that includes Tish Berge, General Manager at the Sweetwater Authority; Cari Dale, Water Utilities Director at the City of Oceanside; and Vicki Quiram, General Manager of the Carlsbad Municipal Water District. Topics of discussion in that and other panels will cover career pathways, the importance of forming mentorships, what it’s like for women to work in what is now a male-dominated field, developing leadership skills, and more.

“The Center for Water Studies is playing a critical role in training the next generation of water and wastewater industry professionals, and the Women in Water symposium offers an unparalleled opportunity to gain insights and develop connections that can lead to a rewarding, good-paying career,” said Center for Water Studies Program Chair Joe Young.

Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators in San Diego County were earning an average annual wage of more than $70,000 annually as recently as May 2017, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Grossmont College football standout Jay Williams signs with Florida State University

Jay Williams and Coach Mike Jordan
Jay Williams’ teammates on the Grossmont College football team joke that he never smiles for his photographs. But Williams had a big smile on his face on Dec. 19 when he signed a letter of intent to play for Florida State University.

The 6 foot-6 inch, 290 pound offensive tackle chose the Seminoles among 20 offers he received from universities across the country, including the University of Arkansas, University of Indiana, and the University of Oklahoma. At a signing ceremony alongside Grossmont College Football Coach Mike Jordan, Williams thanked his family, coaches and teammates for believing in him.

“It’s been a long ride,” he said. “It’s a blessing that all of my hard work has paid off. I’m really grateful.”

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Franziska Collier: Overcoming life's challenges thanks to Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges

Franziska Collier
Franziska Collier has suffered through more than her fair share of bad breaks. Her three young children and Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges keep her going.

“Outside of my kids, Grossmont and Cuyamaca College are my life right now,” said Collier, 41, an honors student with a GPA just shy of 4.0. “It keeps me involved. It keeps me motivated. It keeps me going.”

Her perseverance has led to numerous honors and awards from the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges, including the Betty D. Krueger Scholarship and the James Rodey Creative Writers Scholarship. The Betty D. Krueger Scholarship is awarded to an outstanding student who writes a compelling essay about the value of attending Grossmont or Cuyamaca College. The James Rodey Young Creative Writers Scholarship, named in memory of a former Grossmont College student, is awarded to a Grossmont College scholar excelling in creative writing.

Collier will be among those honored during a Jan. 12, 2019, scholarship awards ceremony and reception at Cuyamaca College.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Trustees sworn in, officers selected for district Governing Board

L to R: Bill Garrett; Linda Cartwright; Debbie Justeson;
Elena Adams; Brad Monroe
New members Linda Cartwright and Brad Monroe, along with re-elected board member Debbie Justeson, were sworn into office for the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Governing Board on Dec. 11. 

Cartwright was then unanimously selected to serve as board president for 2019, with Justeson serving as vice president and board member Elena Adams as clerk. 

Cartwright has been a public school teacher for more than 30 years, working as an elementary school teacher in the National School District. She has served as a mentor teacher, a Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment coach, and was elected president of the National City Elementary Teachers Association. She was honored with the California Teachers Association WHO Award.
Monroe, a community college educator for 43 years, was founding chair of the Ornamental Horticulture program at Cuyamaca College. He developed the annual Spring Garden Festival, and helped bring the Water Conservation Garden to the college. He was named Horticulturist of the Year by the San Diego Horticulture Society in 2013 and the Irrigation Association’s Person of the Year in 2008.  The Governing Board holds its meetings on the third Tuesday of each month, except in September and December, when they will be held on the second Tuesday. The meetings start at 6:30 p.m. following a closed session. The board meets at Griffin Gate at Grossmont College in even-numbered months (February, April, June, August, October and December) and at the Cuyamaca College Student Center in alternate months.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Trio picked for annual classified employee excellence award

Cohesion and excellence are concepts often expressed in threes. The Three Musketeers. The Three Tenors. The Three Wise Men. The Triple Crown. The three Olympic medals.
The Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District has a winning trio of its own – the winners of the 2018 Chancellor/Classified Senate Award -- who were lauded Tuesday night by the Governing Board in recognition of their exemplary work.

Gwen Nix

 The jobs of the winners – Rochelle Weiser from Grossmont College; Gwen Nix from Cuyamaca College and Gabriella Avila-Garcia from District Services, are varied, representing the broad expanse of tasks performed by non-instructional staff .
 In recognition of classifieds’ critical role, one member of each college and District Services is chosen each year for the honor and is presented with a trophy, $250 gift certificate, recognition at the statewide Classified
Rochelle Weiser
Leadership Conference and lunch with Chancellor Cindy L. Miles and Governing Board President Bill Garrett.

 “These three award winners reflect a true commitment to excellence in their service to students and campus communities,” Miles said. “Our classified professionals are truly the backbone of the district – they keep our operation running smoothly and their contributions are appreciated beyond measure.” 

 Ariane Ahmadian, Cuyamaca College Classified Senate president, said the yearly award honors classified employees whose job excellence and work ethic inspire others.

"Among our many dedicated professionals are people like this year's winners, who go well beyond the scope of their duties and are consummate and respected members of our district," she said.

Gwen Nix
After 12 years at Cuyamaca College, with the last eight as administrative assistant to the vice president of Student Services, Gwen Nix is known for her institutional knowledge and problem-solving skills. The current vice president, Jessica Robinson, said she came to rely on Nix’s knowledge and sage advice when she began at Cuyamaca College in January. 

 “The professional demeanor, coupled with her enthusiastic and welcoming personality make her a perfect fit as the welcoming face of the vice president of Student Services office,” said Robinson, who nominated Nix for the award.  
Gabriela Avila-Garcia

Robinson also noted Nix’s involvement in many college committees and events, including the annual Spring Garden and Butterfly Festival, the twice-year convocations and Cuyamaca’s recent 40th Anniversary celebration. Her humor and warmth, as well as her professionalism, will be missed by all when she retires next year, Robinson said.

Nix worked for 20 years as an administrative assistant at San Diego State University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences. After getting her Master of Arts degree in theological studies from Bethel Seminary in San Diego, Nix served a three-year stint as an adjunct instructor for a freshman first-year program at SDSU. When the program ended, Nix decided to leave academia and worked for a year-and-a-half as a resort manager.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Grossmont College recognized as Champion of HIgher Education

Grossmont College was recognized as a Champion of Higher Education by the Campaign for College Opportunity for its work to significantly increase the number of students earning an Associate Degree for Transfer, an associate degree that guarantees transfer to a California State University institution.
“This achievement speaks to the heart of what we do – helping students achieve their educational goals, especially for those who wish to transfer to impacted California State University campuses,” said Grossmont College President Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh. The award for the college’s efforts during the 2017-18 academic year was given at a Dec. 4 formal reception in Los Angeles. Grossmont College also ranked:

  • Third place among California community colleges for the high proportion of Associate Degrees for Transfer granted relative to campus enrollment;
  • Sixth place overall in the number of total Associate Degrees for Transfer granted; and
  • Eight place for high growth of Associate Degrees for Transfer granted as compared to the 2016 – 17 academic year.
“This is great cause for celebration for Grossmont College,” said Cindy L. Miles, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District. “A large thank you is due to our faculty, staff and students who worked so diligently to achieve these results.”

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Open enrollment begins for spring 2019 at Grossmont, Cuyamaca colleges

Spring semester is just a calendar page away at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges and much is in store for the new year. 
Hip-hop classes are among Saturday classes at Grossmont.

Open enrollment begins Tuesday, Dec. 4, for the new semester, which starts Jan. 28 with new courses, first-time programs and more free textbooks used in classes. 

Tuesday is also the first day of open registration for intersession classes, offered Jan. 2-26. The cost of the courses is $46 per unit, with most classes offering three units of college credit. Online registration continues through Jan. 28 for spring 2019 classes via WebAdvisor.

First-time college students may be eligible for free tuition at Grossmont or Cuyamaca College through the Grossmont-Cuyamaca College Promise. Promise students must attend full-time, complete an onboarding program, and maintain at least a 2.0 GPA as a full-time student. Learn more at 

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Journey takes former Cuyamaca College student to Ph.D. program

Ritchie Hernandez
Ritchie Hernandez moved to the East County from high school with no car and little money. But he had plenty of ambition. Now, thanks to Cuyamaca College, he’s now thriving at UC San Diego’s Ph.D. program in organic chemistry.

“My training in general chemistry at Cuyamaca College put me head and shoulders above many of my classmates in my undergraduate chemistry courses at UCSD,” Hernandez said. “I would not be where I am without Cuyamaca College. It was just a great environment for me and perfect for what I was looking for.”

Hernandez embodies how Cuyamaca College, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, has transformed tens of thousands of lives for the better since its founding in 1978. His journey, though, was unlike almost any other.

Born to deaf parents, Hernandez became conversant in American Sign Language as a toddler. He didn’t speak until he was 3, and his first spoken language was Spanish, which was learned from his paternal grandparents who helped raise him.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Grossmont College, Osher scholarship open the world to student

Describing Grossmont College scholar Violette Challe as passionate about social justice would be more than a little bit of an understatement. Challe, who speaks several languages, wants to help change the world.

But first she’s set on transferring to UC San Diego and its Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and Master of International Affairs.

Her passion – and her academic excellence – are among the reasons Challe, 22, recently earned an Osher scholarship from the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges. The money is helping to cover the cost of attending Grossmont College this year, and it comes in addition to a scholarship she earned last summer that allowed her to study in Germany and serve an internship with the Abgeordnetenhaus, or parliament.

Challe with German instructor Astrid Ronke
Challe, 22, grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, including San Francisco, Pacifica, Petaluma, and Santa Rosa. When she turned 18, Challe ventured abroad to work as an au pair in Italy, a move that changed her life. Living in Europe during the refugee crisis, she saw the suffering of so many as so much of Europe turned its back to the problem. Immersing herself in books such as "The Other Hand," "The Kite Runner" and "A Thousand Splendid Suns" furthered her resolve.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

A homecoming for Heritage of the Americas Museum's new executive director

Brittany Gardner
Brittany Gardner was a student at Avocado Elementary School when she fell in love with the Heritage of the Americas Museum during a third-grade field trip.  Less than 20 years after that excursion, Gardner was recently named the museum’s new executive director.

 “I remember it as being this big, grand place with all these artifacts, an exhibit with rocks that glowed, I was just amazed and in awe,” Gardner said. “I never dreamed at the time that I would one day become the museum director.”
Located on the Cuyamaca College campus, the Heritage of the Americas Museum is a cultural and educational jewel packed with a vast collection highlighting the history and prehistory of the Americas – from Maya painted bowls and wedding vases to jade burial suits, ancient Peruvian art, saber tooth tiger skulls, and an abundance of fossils and arrowheads.

For Gardner, the third-grade field trip planted the seeds of discovery that led to dual associate degrees from Cuyamaca College and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from San Diego State University. Now pursuing an MBA and a certificate in nonprofit management from the University of San Diego, Gardner, 27, was a natural fit to head the museum after the retirement of longtime director Kathleen Oatsvall.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Gary Jennings: Remembering Cuyamaca College’s First Year

Cuyamaca College held its first Commencement on May 30, 1979, with a graduating class of 38 students. Gary Jennings was among the original 38.

“We were a small group,” said Jennings, now a 63-year-old resident of Crest. “There were only a few folding chairs that day, and they could probably fit into your garage.”

With Cuyamaca College celebrating its 40thanniversary, Jennings has joined dozens of others in recalling how life at the Rancho San Diego campus has changed over the years.

Jennings’ path to Cuyamaca College was a bit circuitous. Born in Pomona, raised in Temple City, he spent one semester at Southern Colorado State College in Pueblo, Colo., before moving back to Southern California, where his father worked as the U.S. Postal Service’s Southern Section manager overseeing San Diego and Imperial counties. Jennings enrolled at Grossmont College’s graphic design program in 1977, but when courses were moved to Cuyamaca a year later, he became among the first 1,947 students at the brand new campus.

It was a much different place. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Kurdish refugee now breathes easier as respiratory therapy student

Havin Sindi has overcome more than her share of life’s challenges. A refugee from Kurdistan whose family was forced to flee after her father was threatened for cooperating with American troops, the Grossmont College scholar was often targeted with racist taunts and cries of “terrorist!” while growing up in El Cajon. Meanwhile, balancing two cultures, Sindi found herself struggling with English at school and being encouraged to speak only Kurdish at home.

“Over time, I have learned these obstacles have molded me into a respectful, educated, open-minded and bilingual speaker,” she said.

Her perseverance has paid off. Sindi is thriving at Grossmont College, where she has earned one degree in general studies with an emphasis in science and quantitative reasoning and is on track to earn a second associate degree in June 2019 in respiratory therapy. Her determination, volunteer work, and grades led the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges to award her a pair of scholarships this fall.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Rice Family Foundation receives Garrett civic leadership award

Lisa and Jessica Wilson

A foundation that has provided more than $1 million in donations to Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges has been honored with the second annual Bill and Judy Garrett Civic Leadership Award.

The award was presented Thursday night to the Rice Family Foundation at a dinner honoring donors to the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges.

 “The Rice Family Foundation’s support of our colleges embodies the spirit of the Bill and Judy Garrett Civic Leadership Award, which recognizes an individual or group that leads with integrity and supports student success,” said Sally Cox, chief executive officer of the district foundation.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Theater under construction at Grossmont College reaches new heights

Steelworkers put up the last structural beam at a topping off.
A construction milestone of the Grossmont College Performing and Visual Arts Center was celebrated Thursday by educators and officials autographing the last structural beam going up on what promises to be a landmark structure.

The customary “topping off” ceremony also marks the nearly halfway point for the $42 million project being funded by Proposition V construction dollars approved by East County voters in 2012. The nearly 39,000-square-foot facility, which broke ground in 2017 and is targeted for completion in fall 2019, will serve as an instructional and performance venue for the theater, dance and music programs. In addition to a 390-seat, multipurpose theater replete with one of the largest stages in the county, an orchestra pit and balcony, the center will also house the Hyde Art Gallery.

President Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh signs a construction beam.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Brooklyn Lopez: Setting an Example for Others

Brooklyn Lopez
Brooklyn Lopez could write a book on overcoming adversity. Growing up without a father, raised by a mother struggling with alcohol and substance abuse, Lopez said she often found herself home alone and had to learn how to cook, clean and take care of her younger siblings by the age of 5.

Today, however, the former foster youth is a Cuyamaca College honor student who is on track to earn an associate degree in accounting in the spring of 2019. She has her sights set on transferring to San Diego State University and she is aiming for a career in finance or as an accountant.

Lopez’s achievements were recently rewarded with a Retiree Network Scholarship. The scholarship is given to a select few who – at the very least – have completed at least 24 units at the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, have a minimum grade point average of 3.0, are enrolled in a minimum of nine credits, and have plans to transfer to a four-year university or complete an associate degree or certificate.

“What motivates me is that I can prove to other students no matter what life throws at them, they can always choose the better option and the better path. There is no excuse to fall in the negative one,” she wrote in her scholarship essay. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Baroque, Beethoven and Beyond


Winds from the San Diego Symphony will join pianist Jessie Chang in a unique chamber music concert set for Friday, Nov. 9, at Cuyamaca College’s Samuel M. Ciccati Theatre.

Jessie Chang & Selected Winds from the San Diego Symphony: Baroque, Beethoven and Beyondwill feature an all-star cast of classical musicians in the latest ECHO Chamber Music Series that is being underwritten by Sam Ersan, vice chairman of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra’s Board of Directors. Among the works being performed are Jan Dismas Zelenka’s Trio Sonata No. 3, Igor Stravinsky’s Pastoraleand Ludwig van Beethoven’s Quintet for Piano and Winds Op. 16.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Graphic design student a portrait of perseverance

Grossmont College student Jake McDermott
Jake McDermott isn’t letting the challenges of his past keep him from realizing the promise of his future. The former foster youth who has overcome learning disabilities and ADHD is thriving at Grossmont College, where he is a member of the campus Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, volunteers extensively, is on track to transfer to San Diego State University and is looking forward to a career as a graphic designer and photo editor.

“There are a lot of support services at Grossmont, and the counselors and staff at the college are really supportive, helpful, and caring, which is why I am doing so well,” McDermott said. “It’s just a good place to get a good education.”

McDermott’s efforts have been rewarded with several Osher scholarships from the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges, and he also helps support himself through a work-study program that has him using his skills as a graphic artist at The Common Ground, the Grossmont College student engagement, cross-cultural space.

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 Gutiérrez, 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 Gutiérrez, 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.”