Updated Measure J Timelines

SEM Building Timeline

Program Validation: June-October 2016
Schematic Design: November 2016-March 2017
Design Development: March- September 2017
Construction Documentation: October 2017 – March 2018
Groundbreaking: December 2018
Construction Completion: December 2020
Furniture, Fixtures, Equipment: January 2021 – May 2021
Opening: Fall Semester 2021 (August)

Veterans Resource Center and Student Activities Center Timeline

Program Validation: December 2016-February 2017
Schematic Design: February-April 2017
Design Development: April- August 2017
Construction Documentation: September 2017 – March 2018
Groundbreaking: December 2018
Construction Completion: February 2020
Furniture, Fixtures, Equipment: March 2020 – May 2020
Opening: Fall Semester 2020 (August)

Veterans Memorial Plaza Timeline


Parking Lot Closures For Repairs and Re-Striping

Campus parking lots will be closed on a rolling basis for the next three weeks due to asphalt repairs and re-striping.

All-Day Closures

  • Friday 7/28 – Lot 1
  • Monday 7/31 and Tuesday 8/1 – Lot 2 and Lot 3
  • Wednesday 8/2 – Lot 6
  • Thursday 8/3 and Friday 8/4 – Lot 4
  • Monday 8/7 and Tuesday 8/8 – Lot 5
  • Wednesday 8/9 and Thursday 8/10 – Lot 7
  • Friday 8/11 through Friday 8/18 – Lot 8

Dates subject to change. Improvements to the College Circle will be confirmed at a later date.

High School Students Get a Taste of College, Earn Credits During Summer Connect

By Spencer Golanka

The Dual Enrollment Summer Connect Program at Cypress College is dedicated to assisting high school students reach their educational and career goals before moving on to post-secondary education.

This summer, more than 300 students participated in the program and completed up to two units of college credit during the two-week sessions. Courses in career exploration and educational planning were aimed at helping students identify occupational and educational possibilities, while also providing an orientation to the college lifestyle and developing a personalized Student Education Plan.

Students also enjoyed hands-on teaching from Cypress instructors and counselors, along with summer enrichment opportunities including various field trips, activities, and renowned guest speakers.

Keith Kaplan, Tesla Foundation CEO, spoke to Summer Connect students about the evolving workforce of the future. He emphasized the inevitable transition to unmanned aviation and artificial intelligence, as well as the enormity and complexity of space travel. Students enjoyed the presentation and especially appreciated Kaplan’s one-on-one interactions.

Students were treated to an exclusive look at the Orange County Computer Forensics Laboratory. Lab Director Chris Pluhar and Deputy Director Carlos Field taught students about the importance of investigative work not only in law enforcement, but in our everyday lives as technology is becoming ever more prevalent.

At the University of California, Irvine, Summer Connect students were fully immersed in the world of the United States legal system at the campus’ School of Law. A panel of legal personnel from local districts discussed the intricacies of the legal system and its relevance in society, along with informative lectures from law professors and a tour of UCI’s Law Library.

Students were also exposed to cutting-edge technology throughout UCI’s technological research institution. Also, program administrators led a tour of their campus and research facilities. Students had the opportunity to utilize technology that was developed by UCI graduates pursuing doctoral degrees in informatics (the study of human-technology interaction).

At California State University, Dominguez Hills, students were given the opportunity to talk with a panel of entrepreneur CEOs from businesses across the district. CEOs from various industries, including insurance and restaurant, presented students with entrepreneurial advice and real-world examples that are necessary for success in all business sectors.

Several students also began coursework in the Dual Enrollment Cybersecurity Pathway. More than 80 students enrolled in CISCO Networking classes and learned to configure and troubleshoot network devices to prepare for a highly recognized industry certification (CCENT).

#CYProud: Dominique Brown, Dance

Student success comes in many different forms, and Cypress College is proud to recognize and celebrate the variety of paths our students take to achieve their dreams. Whether it’s transferring to a four-year institution, or receiving an associate degree or certificate and heading into the workforce, we are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProud students for 2017.

Dominique Brown
Cypress + Grand Canyon University

Brown is a dance major transferring to Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona following her graduation from Cypress College. She decided to attend Cypress College after taking a dance class the summer before she was heading to a four-year college. She aspires to receive her master’s degrees in dance and business, and start an international dance company.

Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

I was born in Jamaica, but raised in Orange County, and I have lived in various cities within Orange County. My favorite residence was in Placentia, mostly because of the pond in the courtyard of the complex. I still remember the joy I had watching the ducks swim from my veranda.

As for my hobbies and interests, I love dancing and creating dance videos. (I also enjoy drawing and eating.) My interest in dancing began the moment I set foot onto American soil in California. I fell in love with the dances I would see in music videos and movies. I enjoyed it so much that I began to mimic the movements I saw, which led to my selection of Poppin’ as my style of origin.

From the top of my head, I would say that the movie Bring it On was the first movie I was crazy for. The Clovers, one of the cheer teams featured in the movie, subconsciously inspired my passion for dance and athletics. Five years later, my passion for krump was inspired by the documentary, RIZE. There are times I regret not continuing to study the movements and history of krump.

Sixth grade was when I became more confident in dancing in front of others, but throughout elementary and junior high my life goal was purely about becoming a professional basketball player in EuroLeague Women. I ate, breathed, and slept basketball, and in between I was involved in other activities like double dutch. Fast forward to the end of my junior year of high school, my life plan took an abrupt detour when I began to hate the sport of basketball, mainly due to my surroundings while I was on the school’s basketball team. I couldn’t even watch March Madness that year and for the next three years. I was not able to write a truthful paper for my “American Dream” assignment because basketball was no longer a part of it. During my senior year, I was an empty vessel on the basketball court. The only things that kept me alive and sane were God and dance.

I am grateful for those who were positive influences in my life and helped me to realize my new plan: becoming an entrepreneur.

Why did you choose Cypress College?

I was on the verge of going to a four-year college straight out of high school, but I was invited, along with two schoolmates, to perform a dance at Cypress College’s Triple Threat Showcase. The week before we had also been invited to watch the People in Motion dance concert and I was enthralled by the production level. But what I found more enlightening was my decision to never do a solo on the campus theater stage ever again. At first glance, I thought, “Maybe I should try using the whole stage to make my dance more dynamic.” I was wrong, and I regret it to this day. I was so winded that I almost tripped going up the stairs to get water.

Other than that, experiencing the stage and witnessing other great performances was really great. Even though I was excited, I was still planning to attend the four-year college in the fall after I took one class during the summer at Cypress. Fortunately, that class—multicultural dance—is what made me stay at Cypress. It made me desire to pursue dance as a major along with business.

What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?

I have participated in two of the dance concerts at Cypress College, one last spring semester and the other this spring semester. For one semester during the 2015-2016 school year, I was a member of the Black Student Union. I was also a member of the Cypress College women’s basketball team this past season (2016-2017). I no longer hate basketball. I have made great friends and acquaintances over the past three years who are reliable. The network I’ve built with them will forever be remembered.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I am most passionate about dance, music, movies, video games, and anything Dragon Ball-related. At times, I feel as if I’m having a heart attack when I am really immersed in any of the things mentioned above. People who witness me in my trance may also see me spazzing out with excitement for an amazing dance move, piano run, or an unexpected plot twist. An example is when I watch Dragon Ball Super, I am practically screaming, jumping, pacing, and extremely animated throughout the entire episode.

Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?

The faculty that have helped me get where I am today are dance professors: Erin Landry, Maha Afra, and Katiana Pallais. Honestly, I would say all the dance professors at Cypress have positively affected my life in one way or another. Another professor I am grateful for is Thomas “TJ” Reynolds. I had him for an English class during the 2017 spring semester. What each of these professors have in common is that they will invest their time into their students. They also encourage students to invest their time and efforts into the desire to learn more.

What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?

I will be transferring to Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona to continue my dance major. I will also be furthering my business studies, so I can double major in dance and business. After I receive my bachelor’s degree from GCU, I plan to continue my studies as a graduate student.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

My main long-term goals are to get my M.F.A. in dance and M.B.A. in business, then form an international dance company. The mission of the company will be to provide a platform to advocate for people who feel their voices are not heard.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my heritage. Maybe it is because I came to the U.S. at a young age, but my Jamaican pride is a major part of who I am. The values and morals that were instilled in me have been my foundation and remain strong.

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

I would say to have fun, be responsible, and be ready to sacrifice some fun to get outstanding grades. Cypress College is a great school. It has really prepared me for a four-year college. If I went straight from high school to a four-year, I would have probably struggled mentally and financially. During my time at Cypress, I made the Library and Learning Resource Center my friend. Forming study groups also helped me to succeed in my classes.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

CYPCITY!? ………………… LET’S GO!!! Thank you for helping me mature! ♥

Posted in CY

College Recognizes Facilities Director for Energy Efficiency Efforts

Cypress College thanked Albert Miranda, Physical Plant and Facilities director, for his efforts to decrease the college’s carbon footprint and improve energy efficiency and waste management. Plaques on the college’s new HVAC generators recognize Miranda’s contributions to the campus. They read: “For CC Students & in Appreciation of Albert Miranda.”

Miranda has been with Cypress College for 40 years, having started his career in the facilities department. He helped prepare the college’s Facilities Master Plan in 2016 and spearheaded the college’s North Campus Thermal Energy Project to increase cooling capacity for both existing and future buildings on campus. He has also worked as an adjunct faculty member for the district’s School of Continuing Education ESL program.

Cypress College Welcomes 12th President Dr. JoAnna Schilling

The Cypress College community welcomed the 12th College President Dr. JoAnna Schilling on her first day on campus. She met with her executive leadership group and toured the campus, meeting students, staff, and faculty while also familiarizing herself with the campus. She looks forward to meeting more of the campus community in the coming weeks.

Prior to her arrival at Cypress College, Dr. Schilling was Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs at Rio Hondo College, where she also previously served in multiple roles as the Dean of Arts and Cultural Programs, Continuing and Contract Education, and Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs from 2006-2012. From 2012 to 2016, Dr. Schilling served at Cerritos College as Vice President of Academic Affairs/Assistant Superintendent.

Dr. Schilling is also an accomplished playwright and screenwriter, as well as a classically trained vocalist. Prior to her experience in higher education, she was a literary associate and educator in the professional conservatory at South Coast Repertory Theatre. She is the author of recent journal publications in the Community College Journal of Research and Practice, Community College Enterprise, and Management Learning, was a contributing editor at Dog Fancy Magazine, and is the author of three “Dog Lover Companion” books for Avalon Travel Publishing/Perseus Books.


Tesla Foundation CEO Talks Workforce of the Future

Tesla Foundation CEO Keith Kaplan stopped by the Cypress College campus Thursday, June 22 to talk to high school students enrolled in the college’s Summer Connect Program about the workforce of the future. Technological shifts and advanced automation have created many new jobs in exciting industries like space travel and unmanned aviation (drones).

The college hosted over 200 students in classes for career exploration, educational planning, and CISCO networking during the June Summer Connect session. Students participated in field trips to area universities, including the University of California, Irvine and Cal State University, Dominguez Hills. Another couple of hundred students are expected to attend the July Summer Connect session.

#CYProud: Monica Vargas, Psych Tech & Dance

Student success comes in many different forms, and Cypress College is proud to recognize and celebrate the variety of paths our students take to achieve their dreams. Whether it’s transferring to a four-year institution, or receiving an associate’s degree or certificate and heading into the workforce, we are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProud students for 2017.

Monica Vargas
Cypress + Psych Tech

Vargas received her associate degree in psychiatric technology and dance and will continue her studies at Cypress College in the Registered Nursing program to prepare for an eventual master’s degree in psychiatric nursing. She strives to spread awareness about mental illness and the human condition, and enjoys spending time volunteering.


Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

I was born in Los Alamitos, California and attended Los Alamitos High School. I was always active; I did taekwondo as a kid, then in high school I joined a club soccer team. I always took honors and AP courses while maintaining a good GPA. I was always interested in psychology and the human mind, and I also love to dance and often perform in different venues.

Why did you choose Cypress College?

Cypress College offers a convenient location as it is close to both my home and work. Additionally, it offers a great education and value for my money, as well as many services and licensure programs that are not offered at other locations. It has helped open many pathways to brighten my future.

What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?

I began my studies at Cypress College believing that I would only be a psychology major; however, after taking a few dance classes, I discovered a second passion and chose to pursue it as a second major. Similarly, I happened upon the Psychiatric Technician Program, which opened many more paths in my future career goals.

I will receive associate degrees in both psychology and dance, as well as my psychiatric technology license, which will help me to attain future personal, academic, and career goals.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I am passionate about spreading awareness about both mental health and diversity in each individual. Being able to be part of a psychiatric program, I was able to visit many mental hospitals and developmental institutions. This not only allowed me to learn more about mental illnesses, but also become aware of the stigma and labeling that exist for these people.

My passion is to spread awareness about not only the mentally ill, but all people. I hope to help educate people to remove stigmas and labels of others. I am also passionate about helping people as much as I can. I have volunteered my time at the Boys and Girls Club teaching dance to kids who were not expected to be able to dance. I also volunteered training individuals who had health impairments and could not afford a fitness coach. I am always looking for ways in my community to help out in any way I can.

Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?

The faculty at Cypress is usually very helpful; however, three professors went above and beyond to help me and everyone around them.

Professor Maha Afra pushed and motivated me to pursue my goals, and has been there every step of the way to help me achieve them. She is always very well-informed and became my mentor. Additionally, she kept her office doors open to all of us in a welcoming environment with lots of pillows where we would go when life was overwhelming. She also reminded us of our self worth and continued to motivate us to achieve.

Professor Christina Johannsen is another faculty member who always made time to listen to all her students and really tried to help us succeed. She was very caring and helped everyone who needed it. She helped me see that anyone can become anything they set their minds to, and I knew that I could always rely on her vast knowledge and her keen way with words.

Finally, Professor Jaime Ramos helped me figure out my career plan and motivated me to pursue it. He always answered my career questions honestly and was always very genuine. He helped me establish career goals and ways to achieve them.

What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?

I plan to stay at Cypress and enter the Registered Nursing Program. After transferring from Cypress College, I plan to attend Cal State Long Beach and enter their Psychiatric Nursing Program in order to receive a master’s degree and become a psychiatric nurse practitioner. I hope to one day become a college professor and share my acquired knowledge the way Professors Afra, Johannsen, and Ramos did for me and motivate other students to move forward with their goals.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

I aspire to become a college professor, as well as open a dance therapy studio. I am a dancer for Maha and Company, Professor Afra’s dance company, and I aspire to continue dancing in this company that helps spread cultural awareness through movement.

What are you most proud of?

I am proud of being able to take 18 units, be part of a dance company, and have a job all
while paying for my education. I won an award for being one of only three students to maintain straight A’s throughout the Psychiatric Technician Program and my other courses. It was not easy, and I had many sleepless weeks, but it was worth every bit of effort.

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

Take advantage of everything Cypress College has to offer, from financial help, to all the licensure programs available. Oftentimes, community colleges have a bad stigma; however, it is definitely the smart route as they offer more help both financially and educationally.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I wish the best of luck to everyone. Hard work and dedication always pay off. I wouldn’t have been so successful without the dedicated faculty and staff at Cypress College, and I am very grateful. Furthermore, I would like to thank everyone who I have had the pleasure of meeting at Cypress as they all played a role in helping me achieve some of my goals.

Posted in CY

#CYProud: Miguel Ruiz, Biochemistry

Student success comes in many different forms, and Cypress College is proud to recognize and celebrate the variety of paths our students take to achieve their dreams. Whether it’s transferring to a four-year institution, or receiving an associate degree or certificate and heading into the workforce, we are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProud students for 2017.

Miguel Ruiz
Cypress + UCSD

Ruiz is a biochemistry major transferring to the University of California, San Diego following his graduation from Cypress College. While at the college, he’s been involved in a number of clubs and programs, including serving as interim president for the Chemistry Club and cofounding the Cypress College Chapter for the Society of Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science. He aspires to enter an M.D.-Ph.D. program and ultimately become a molecular pathologist researching disease.


Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

Growing up, my family didn’t have the luxury of being fully engaged in my life. I was a latch-key kid, and I was responsible for taking care of my mother and contributing to our household by working since the age of 16. In the face of hard times and financial uncertainty, I elected to derive motivation from my situation and pursue science for its impartiality and objectivity. My mother was a nurse, and her commitment to the care and advancement of others has inspired my desire to pursue biochemistry; it is my medium of choice to follow my mother’s paradigm. It has been up to me to give my life meaning and clear the path toward higher education. Since entering community college, my goal has been to continually challenge myself through more rigorous class schedules each year. At times, I have even taken particularly large class loads exceeding three or four science courses at a time. My goal in taking these rigorous class schedules has been to train myself to adapt to high-stress workloads and improve my discipline and work ethic.

Why did you choose Cypress College?

After my exit from high school, I had no idea where to begin my path toward higher education. I wish I could say that my research of the graduation rate, or the retention rate of Cypress College, was what attracted me initially to the college, but in reality, it was the people; some of the best, hardworking, and most responsible people I knew went to Cypress College.

What has been most remarkable is what’s kept me at Cypress College: community. In high school, I never had an academic identity. I felt like an outside observer whenever I tried to engage in science previously. At Cypress College, I found the (STEM)2 program where I was given the opportunity to become immersed in a community with similar passionate and ambitious individuals who made me feel as though I had developed a niche in the sciences. Then, unbeknownst to me, science became my life. Every person I knew, every person that I called friend, was a science major. My mentors and people I idolized were professors and scientists.

Cypress College essentially provided the fundamental environment to facilitate my growth as a scientist when I had no other resources. The experience I had at Cypress College shows that given the proper environment and community, an individual can be positioned to achieve.

What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?

After all the experiences and knowledge I cultivated at Cypress College, I believed it was my duty and certainly an honor to give back to the community that essentially made me. I worked with other Latino students to co-found the Cypress College Chapter for the Society of Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, a club which strives to conduct on- and off-campus science-related activities to promote science in Latino communities. Cypress College also gave me the opportunity to be a part of a club for the first time and serve in a position of leadership. I was a member of the Cypress College Chemistry Club where I served as treasurer and later as interim president.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

In a sense, my major is my absolute passion. But I also believe my greatest passion in general is to understand that which I do not know compounded with a profound desire to improve the human condition. My thirst for knowledge is everything to me, and I believe I manifest my passion through my studies in biochemistry. As a biochemistry major, I’ve been given the opportunity to explore the universe at a molecular level, while applying what I’ve learned toward a greater cause: to ultimately research and produce innovations that I hope will have a significant impact on humanity.

Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?

Without the faculty and staff at Cypress College, I would have lacked the inspiration and plethora of knowledge necessary to succeed and overcome. All of my professors at Cypress contributed to my development as a student, but there were some that went above and beyond their role as educators—they became my mentors.

Professor Adel Rajab was my first biology professor in college. Professor Rajab’s BIO 174 was a daunting course, but he was an inspiration. He holds his students to a high standard and motivated us to achieve a deep knowledge of the material.

Professor Torri Draganov gave me the best experience I could have ever hoped for in a chemistry class. Professor Draganov was patient and effusive, and gave me the tools I needed to succeed in chemistry. When I knew nothing about higher education beyond community college, Professor Draganov offered me guidance in structuring my journey through higher education.

I met Professor Alex Mintzer when I began taking rigorous course schedules. Although the material that we learned was heavy, Professor Mintzer was always available to clarify the material for his students or simply be there for his students to talk to.

Yanet Garcia and the STEM faculty were hugely impactful on my growth at Cypress College. Yanet was more than a counselor to me; she pushed me every step of the way to go out and look for the opportunities I needed to succeed and thrive.

Professor Robin De Roo was my organic chemistry professor during my most intense semesters at the college. She was key in helping me keep my sanity during the most challenging of times. Professor De Roo understood my background as a first-generation student who was still learning self discipline. She offered me advice, guidance, and life lessons with an open door, and has impacted me in a way I can never forget.

What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?

This summer, I plan to recertify as a phlebotomist so that I may work in a hospital in close contact with patients and caregivers to better understand my potential role in the medical field. Furthermore, this fall I will be transferring to the University of California, San Diego as a biochemistry and cell biology major. To further elucidate my potential in research, my goal is to pursue research at UCSD in pharmacology, biotechnology, and molecular pathology.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

Undergraduate transfer has been one of my first steps in a series of goals. My next step is to graduate from UCSD in two years as a biochemistry and cell biology major with a minor in chemistry and an emphasis in molecular biology. Subsequent to my graduation, my hope is to take the MCAT and obtain a high enough score to achieve my ultimate goal which is to apply and be accepted to an M.D.-Ph.D. program at the University of California, San Francisco. Currently, my life goal is to conduct research in disease as a molecular pathologist.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of who I am now and what I feel I represent. I am proud to be my mother’s son. I am proud to be the son of an immigrant. I am proud to be the first science major in my family. I am proud to represent an underrepresented minority.

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

Learn how to deal with failure. Failure is inevitable; it will happen. What I think truly defines a person’s character is how they react in the face of utter failure. Life is not about the failure, it’s about the readjustment, the adaptation. Countless times, with people of various backgrounds, I’ve observed that oftentimes failure, or fear of failure, has been the major driver in causing us to lose sight of our goals, get bogged down, and ultimately become intimidated of who we are meant to be. It is my belief that learning to pick yourself up after failure and continuing to pursue what you love is the ability to succeed in anything you desire.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I would like to extend my gratitude to all the faculty and staff at Cypress College. I don’t know what I would have done without this place.

Posted in CY

#CYProud: Junnior Rodriguez, Automotive Engineering

Student success comes in many different forms, and Cypress College is proud to recognize and celebrate the variety of paths our students take to achieve their dreams. Whether it’s transferring to a four-year institution, or receiving an associate degree or certificate and heading into the workforce, we are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProud students for 2017.

Junnior Rodriguez
Cypress + Cal Poly SLO

Rodriguez is an Auto Tech, Physics, and Math major transferring to the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo following his graduation from Cypress College. He grew up with a strong passion for automotive technology and engineering, and entered Cypress College as a first-generation college student. He initially went through the College’s Toyota T-TEN program, then pursued his associate degree in physics and math for transfer into mechanical engineering.


Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

I was born and raised in Orange County, California. As a child, my favorite toys were Lego and plastic car model kits. I loved the challenge and joy that I experienced while using my imagination to build anything my mind could think of. I spent days, even weeks, creating and building my ideas with these toys. As I got older, my interests and abilities evolved, and so did my toys and hobbies. They went from 1/25-scale model cars to actual production vehicles. Simply out of curiosity, I disassembled my entire car to study how it was made and how it operates. A revelation from this obsession resulted in knowing how things work and how I can improve them. This is when I knew I wanted to become an automotive engineer. From my humble beginnings in this journey toward higher education, Cypress College has enabled me to progress from becoming an automotive technician to evolving toward a mechanical engineer.

Why did you choose Cypress College?

During high school, my dream job was to become an automotive technician. I applied at my local Toyota Dealership, only to be turned down as I didn’t have any work experience. This inspired me to further my education and attend a trade school. It all started with a simple Google search of local schools in my area. Once I saw the T-TEN, Toyota’s Technician Training & Education Network, automotive technician training program at Cypress College, it was love at first sight. Looking through Google images, the state-of-the art and hands-on education alongside the greenest grass I have seen on this beautiful Southern California campus, made the decision to attend Cypress College an easy one. Two weeks after graduating high school, I became a Cypress Charger!

What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?

I initially started attending Cypress College for its Automotive T-TEN Program. Automotive Performance and Drivability Instructor, Michael Klyde, notified me about an internship opportunity with the Orange County Automobile Dealers Association. At first, I thought to myself that there would be no way I could land this opportunity as I was intimidated, afraid, and had never done anything like it before, but I applied for and received top honors in this highly competitive opportunity available to all trade school students in Southern California. From this experience, I saw firsthand that the more we do outside the classroom, the more fulfilling our experiences are inside the classroom. I was more motivated in my classes as I realized that what we are learning, we’ll be using later in our careers. What we study from textbooks isn’t enough, but once you start applying what you have read, that’s the true value of an education. As a result, I wanted to do more and get involved as I saw valuable opportunities the more we apply ourselves. My hunger for learning and finding more about myself led me to get more involved on campus.

By being an active participant and giving myself an opportunity to put myself out there, I saw and felt the community in this community college. I’ve been the secretary of the Automotive Club; member and vice president of the Engineering & Physics Club; member and engineering ambassador for the STEM Club; STEM Study Lounge leader; founder of the study group Physics Friday; and I’m a member of the (STEM)2 Program. Also, with the help of friends, we founded and I was honored to be the president of the Leaders of Tomorrow Club.

I’ve also worked on campus as the Calculus II Supplemental Instruction Leader for Professor Nusbaum’s Math 150B course tutoring in the LRC’s the Math Learning Center, and as a Peer Mentor for the (STEM)2 Program. In my various roles on campus, I’ve turned myself into the student I always knew I could be. By believing in myself and knowing that I am destined for greatness, I’m starting to get more out of life while helping others along the way. My broad background gives me an advantage with various transferrable skills, a flexible mindset, and technical, hands-on experience that will engineer my success wherever I go.

Every opportunity that I’ve received happened because I applied myself and networked, both of which are vital skills I obtained from the (STEM)2 Program. Thanks to this program, I’ve been able to conduct undergraduate research at Cal State Fullerton in mechanical engineering. This experience confirmed to me that what I am studying in school is what I want to do as my career.

When I first started coming back to school and decided that I wanted to become an engineer, I honestly didn’t know what an engineer was or what they do. If it weren’t for my personal mentor, Alan Jaquias (a Cypress College alumnus), and the guest speakers I’ve heard from and workshops I’ve attended here at Cypress College, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I consider internships and summer research opportunities as “test drives” in your intended major. As you should never buy a car without first test driving it, so you should treat majoring the same way. You shouldn’t invest four years of your life studying something and realize you have no passion or “feel” for it because you never experienced it firsthand. So get out there, test drive your major, and get involved! All the effort will pay in great dividends toward your success.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I can’t stop thinking about cars, technology, engines, and building what my mind envisions. It has transcended being an obsession and is almost a love affair with wanting to learn and do more. I am like a sponge, anxiously waiting to be submerged in knowledge to soak up. When most would be sleeping and dreaming in the middle of the night, I would be awake reading, doing practice problems, sketching my ideas, preparing for my future, and making my dreams a reality by putting in that extra work. This leads me to one of my favorite motivational quotes by the legendary Soichiro Honda, founder and former president of Honda Motor Company:

“Many people dream of success. Success can be achieved only through repeated failure and introspection. In fact, success represents one percent of your work, which results only from the 99 percent that is called failure.”

I, personally, have failed numerous times in my life—so much so that it’s now a normal occurrence—but I don’t consider those failures to be losses as I have always learned from them. When you’re driven by passion and dreams, every day is a blessing and an opportunity to bring those goals to fruition.

I love anything that has wheels and is motorized. When my mind starts racing and I imagine what could possibly be, it inspires me to learn and do more. I love that I can let my mind run free, get my hands dirty, and apply the principles of math and science to create things that pull on my knowledge, experience, and creativity. That feeling is what drives me.

When sleep started becoming an inconvenience because it took time away from pursuing my goals, I knew I had fallen in love with engineering. By following my dreams and embracing my curiosity, I know that my passion for learning will fuel my future and allow me to reach the pinnacle of what I am capable of in my career. I accept the challenges and risks because when you’re passionate about something, you can’t go wrong!

I prepare myself today to live for a better tomorrow. “Si Se Puede!” (Yes, you can!) is what I tell myself every day in the morning after I wake up. If I am alive and able to get out of bed, then everything else after that is definitely possible. I can’t wait to wake up one morning knowing that I have achieved what was once thought to be impossible. Until then, “Si Se Puede!” You always have to start by believing in yourself. Being passionate about something is only the beginning; executing and planning to achieve your goals is where it all comes together. Embrace those late nights, hard work, risks, and bold, curiosity-driven undertakings as it’ll all be worth it!

Who are the faculty and staff that have helped you get where you are today?

As a student, I realize that we are a representation of those who we learn from. I have many amazing and profound people to thank, but the list will go on and on. I want to let everybody know that I couldn’t have ever done this alone! To all the professors, instructors, faculty/staff, lab attendants, Math Learning Center tutors, students, study partners, and to my family, friends, and mentors, I want to say THANK YOU for always being there for me, helping me, and believing in me! I would like to recognize specifically:

  • Yanet Garcia, (STEM)2 program director a.k.a. “The STEM Queen” for her continued support, dedication, mentorship, counseling, supervision, and the plentiful opportunities that she has provided, not only for me but for the entire (STEM)2 Program, its scholars, and the entire SEM Division. She has influenced my life in the most positive way, and I am grateful as she always leads by example and has been a person I look up to and admire! Her commitment to all the students is everlasting, and I owe much of my successes to her and the (STEM)2 Program.

  • The (STEM)2 Program, Yanet and “Responsible” Rosa Mejia, SEM Dean Richard Fee, the STEM counselors and peer mentors, STEM “Salad” Secretaries Julie and Susan for their vibrant personalities, Louie (our STEM mascot), and all STEM Scholars for helping me grow professionally, academically, spiritually, and mentally. Thank you for the workshops, club events, university trips, guest speakers, internship and summer research opportunities, scholarships, and the book loan program that has guided and helped me along this educational journey. Thank you all for showing me that when we STEM majors stick together, we can accomplish anything and have fun doing it!

  • Professor Nusbaum, for demonstrating how math is an art where every step of the process plays an essential role. When a class changes you as a person, you know the professor has made a significant impression on you. Professor Nusbaum has taught me to take pride in my work, be detail-oriented and not omit any steps in a process, and carry myself with integrity, humbleness, and resilience. Thank you for believing in me. I am honored to have been your student and your Math 150B (Calculus II) supplemental instruction leader.

  • Michael Klyde, for helping and guiding me since the beginning of my time at Cypress College. He was the first person to notify me and make me aware of internships, scholarships, and other higher education opportunities. He always believed in me and wanted more for me, and is one of the primary reasons why I became more heavily involved in school and in my studies. He’s not only an instructor, but a person I can call my friend; he has been there since day one and continues to push me to keep moving forward.

I would also like to give a shout out to:

  • Jane Jepson for shedding light on my future and leading me down the correct educational path for me;

  • Professors Hoa Tran, Garet Hill, and Christina Plett for the fun math adventures;

  • Professors John D. Alexander, Michael Beard, Marty Orozco, and Don Blanchard for helping me develop into being a proud professional in the automotive industry and for teaching me lifelong lessons, skills, and techniques for becoming a successful technician;

  • Professor Obed Silva for showing me my true passion for writing and how to have fun with it, and for being an example to always do better;

  • Professor Regina Rhymes for supporting my club and being our advisor of Leaders of Tomorrow. Thank you for sharing your positive energy and experience with us; and

  • Professor Brian Shotwell, for being my supportive “tension in the rope” and acknowledging all my hard work and efforts during his fun and interactive physics class.

  • What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?
    With under a six percent chance of being admitted as a transfer student majoring in mechanical engineering, I am proud and humbled to say that I’ve been accepted and will be transferring to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo! Ten years since graduating high school, a career change, and 225.5 completed units later, my educational journey has truly been a dream come true! Thinking back, I never pictured myself going to college and making it this far, but that’s what excites me; I am doing things that I never thought I could do. I plan on taking a cross-country road trip in my own race car to explore and embrace this milestone of mine with the car that I built during my time here at Cypress College. I will visit landmarks and attend many baseball games, reflecting on how far I’ve come, reminiscing on the years, and remembering to always keep moving forward.

    Using the abundance of knowledge and skills that I’ve learned and gained here at Cypress College, largely through the automotive T-TEN and (STEM)2 programs, I’ll be networking and making vital connections with industry professionals to obtain internships and summer research opportunities once I transfer to better prepare myself for the future; the difference is all in the preparation. I plan on joining Cal Poly’s Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) team to further gain hands-on experience and be able to build what my mind and thoughts create. I consider myself a “doer” and know the true value of my education doesn’t come from what I’ve memorized or the exams I’ve passed, but from what I do with what I’ve learned. Knowing that Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s philosophy is “Learn by Doing” is how I know I’ll thrive. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

    What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

    My goals are to graduate from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo knowing that I used the tools that I gathered here at Cypress College to take full advantage of the opportunities available there and to find out what I am capable of and see how I can contribute to be of service to others. As Cypress College Astronomy Professor Michael Frey once commented, “Be an advantage for those who are at a disadvantage.” The circle of life of helping one another will help us all. I aspire to be an inspiration to others. In science we trust, and we must trust to always keep moving forward for the better!

    Our strengths don’t come from being the best, but from bringing out the best in one another. Together we are strong while divided, just like in math, we will only be a portion of who we can really be. I am here to help. I will be doing what I can to contribute toward evolving and becoming a well-rounded individual. Bringing in the Latino Heat and not just breaking the stereotypes but incinerating them, along with my unique and diverse experiences will convey a whole new perspective into how we do things. I don’t plan on building any walls but I do plan on helping you all build the best version of yourselves. Some call me crazy, but I think it’s crazy to not follow one’s dreams.

    What are you most proud of?

    I’m proud of how far I’ve come on this educational journey. Being a first-generation college student has definitely been a challenge filled with lack of direction and support, and feeling lost and scared. My time here at Cypress College has changed my life because I stayed true to myself and built myself up through my struggles and failures. I’m definitely not the same person I was when I first started attending Cypress College. I’m graduating as a proud, confident, determined, persistent, positive leader who knows that I have the ability to make this world a better place. I’ve realized that I’m not alone on this voyage to become an engineer and have evolved completely as a person. I couldn’t have done it without the guidance of faculty, staff, and the (STEM)2 Program, as well as support from my family, friends, and fellow students who all believed in me. The plethora of opportunities that I’ve encountered because of Cypress College have been the catalyst of growth and giving back.

    Being the type of person that will always give more than what I receive, I contributed to the College by advocating for and sharing my story about my experiences at Cypress College for the construction of the new Science Engineering and Mathematics building. I spoke in front of the North Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees and told them that I never saw myself going to college, that it was something my family had never done before. But knowing I had the power to make a change and further my education at the College, I never looked back and it’s been the best decision of my life. Investing in education is an investment for all mankind. I expressed how the Board has the power to affect every student that comes after me to be exposed to better educational experiences and they shouldn’t limit anybody having a better tomorrow. Proudly, I received a standing ovation from everybody in the room and got praised for staying persistent in my studies. I received the nickname “SEM Savior” by Cypress College President Dr. Bob Simpson, and the Board unanimously voted in favor for the new building right after my speech.

    I may be the first one in my family to pursue a college degree, but I know I won’t be the last! I want every future generation to be better than the one before. I’m proud to have paved the way, not only for myself, but for my family and for future students to believe in themselves and to always remember to give back. Some have called me a role model, someone that they can look up to. I leave Cypress College with a legacy of being a student who came, dreamed, studied, helped, and ultimately succeeded in making a change for the better! I’m beyond proud to call myself a Cypress Charger. This place has been my second home, where I’ve flourished and become someone who now has the confidence to make a valuable impact anywhere I go. I’ll forever be #CYProud! Thank You.

    What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

    I would tell them that they are not alone. Everyone around you is also struggling, and those who have struggled the most are usually willing to help out the most. I am one of those people. You won’t ever be the first person to face these challenges and you won’t be the last, so while you’re in need, all you have to do is ask. Don’t be afraid or view asking for help as a weakness. It’s actually a sign of strength to know you need help and are willing to admit it. I would recommend getting involved in a collaborative learning environment that leads to active participation, asking questions, and being with fellow students so that no one struggles alone.

    The first step to addressing any problem is confirming that there is a problem. Keep your head up, your mind open, give someone your full attention, and be ready to seek and ask for help as that will benefit you greatly. With that being said, we can’t help everyone, but everyone can help at least one other person, so always be willing to help others, too.

    Is there anything else you’d like to share?

    Work hard and get involved! Something beautiful happens when you start applying yourself as that’s when you start growing out of your comfort zone. Three words that I live by are accept, adapt, and overcome. You must embrace change and never be afraid of it. As the legendary Michael Jackson said: “If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make a change.” Go out and join programs and clubs; attend school events and workshops; apply for internships, scholarships, and summer research experiences. Doing all these things is how you’ll learn what you do and don’t like. Take the risks; nobody is going to do it for you. Always do things with integrity and purpose, and don’t take your time here at Cypress College for granted. Anything is possible as long as you keep trying. There’s beauty in the struggle, and I’ve seen a lot of beauty after all of my failures. Nothing is more satisfying than achieving and feeling proud knowing that you didn’t give up!

    I may have taken a longer route than others, but I am the first in my family to embark on this educational pathway where I’ve worked multiple jobs, gotten involved on campus, was a leader to fellow students and I was still able to achieve academically. We are here in the land of opportunity, so no matter where we go, one thing is for sure, don’t quit until you get to your destination and be forever grateful for those who help you. Show everybody that we can make it and that it doesn’t matter which path you take as long as you get to where you want to be! Hard work forever pays off, so keep on charging, fellow Cypress Chargers!

    -Junnior “Si Se Puede” Rodriguez

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