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.