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 of 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.”