#CYProud: Crystal Neer, Radiologic Technology

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.

Crystal Neer
Cypress + RadTech

Neer is a radiologic technology major graduating from Cypress College Spring 2017. She will be receiving her rad tech license in the summer and hopes to spend time doing x-rays and become licensed in administering CAT scans as well. She hopes to attend a four-year instutition in the near future to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

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

My name is Crystal Neer. I grew up in Garden Grove, CA. I graduated from Rancho Alamitos in 2004 and immediately started working. I went to college, but found it was not for me. After having my son in 2011, I knew it was time to go back to school to better myself, not only for me, but my son as well. Being a single mom is not easy, but the hard work is worth every minute and I would not change it for the world. I enjoy volunteering at the OC Food Bank, studying, and spending time with family and friends.

Why did you choose Cypress College?

I chose Cypress College because it is close to me, and I love the campus. The school also provided the Radiologic Technology Program. There aren’t any other schools in the area besides OCC that offer the program.

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

I am part of the CalWORKs program, as well as EOPS and CARE. These programs have provided financial aid, daycare for my son, books, counseling, guidance, transportation, and moral support throughout this journey.
Originally, I was interested in the Ultrasound Program, but after finding out some things about the program, I quickly changed to Radiologic Technology. I worked hard to be on the President’s List and was also honored to be a student mentor for Biology 210. I was accepted into the Radiologic Technology Program in 2016 and will be graduating in May of 2017 with high honors.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I am passionate about helping people. When my mom had breast cancer, the people in the office were so kind. They were always supportive and helped my mom as well as me through a tough time. That was when I grew a real passion for helping people. I want to help guide people through what may be a very difficult time in their lives.

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

Where do I start? There have been so many who have truly helped me. When I first came to Cypress, I went to see Connie Boehler in the CalWORKs office. She helped me figure out the classes I needed to take. I visit her at least once a semester, sometimes more when I come across a problem or need advice. She has always been there to provide moral support and guidance.

Ms. Boehler referred me to Doreen Villasenor, the counselor for EOPS. She was very welcoming and warmhearted, just what I needed during this tough time back to college. I visited Ms. Villasenor three times each semester. She helped me stay on track by creating my educational plan. I always enjoyed speaking with her as I would leave feeling motivated and on the right track, which I was.

Lili Perez, the EOPS/CARE program coordinator has helped me tremendously. She always welcomed me to the office and offered her help and advice if I ever asked. Ms. Perez encouraged me throughout my time at Cypress. She played a huge role in my scholarship achievements, persistently asking if I had applied. Finally, I did, and I won. Not only did I get one, but I received five scholarships. They include the Soroptimist Scholarship for women, Kaiser Permanente Scholarship, Gay Hannah Scholarship for single parents, Bruce Family Scholarship for Health Science, and the Cypress Foundation Scholarship. The EOPS/CARE program also provided grants for attending workshops, as well as school supplies.

Eva Palomares is another one of my amazing counselors. After Ms. Villasenor left EOPS, Ms. Palomares took her place. Ms. Palomares is another person I owe many thanks to; she has always been there for me during any issues. She always worked me into her schedule when needed, especially with my busy schedule during my internship. Ms. Palomares encouraged me, along with Lili Perez, to apply for scholarships. I always thought little old me, why would I get awarded anything like that? I was wrong, and Ms. Palomares taught me to be proud of myself and celebrate every accomplishment.

Dee Ann Sato, my Biology 160 and 210 professor, taught me what it really means to love anatomy and physiology. Not only does she love her students, but she will do anything she can to help them. Anytime I did not understand, she would stay after class and explain things to me. She gave me ideas of how to understand and remember concepts that I found difficult. Ms. Sato also gave me an opportunity to help other students. She helped me get out of my comfort zone and most importantly, helped me grow.

Anne-Marie Beck, a career counselor, has helped me create my resume starting from scratch. Ms. Beck encouraged me to find my strengths and learn how to use them. She also taught me about one of my biggest weaknesses, interviewing. I now feel confident for any future interviews.

Kelly Carter, the counselor for Health Sciences. I remember the first time I went to speak with her, I was so nervous. She was very direct and to the point. I really like that about her, which is when I realized she was there to help. She helped me overcome my fears and put the past behind me. I entrusted my future in her, and she never let me down. She has been here to guide me throughout my college career.

Last but not least, Lynn Mitts. She is the program director of Radiologic Technology as well as Ultrasound. After taking a class with her, she has been there every step of the way. She goes above and beyond to help me. Ms. Mitts has always made time for me out of her busy schedule and has helped me through a time I found to be very difficult. For that, I am forever grateful.

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

I will wait for my license to come in the mail. It usually takes about two months. During this time, I will be off and enjoying the time with my mom and my son. Family is so important to me, and I would not be where I am today without them

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

Long-term goals, I am not sure what is next. I want to spend some time doing x-rays and hope to get my license in CAT scans. I would like to get some time in these areas and possibly return to school in the near future to pursue my bachelor’s degree.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of myself. I have not always been focused on school. There was a time when I was very unsure of what I wanted to do. After having my son, my life drastically changed; everything I have done is for him. I have been focused, motivated, strong, responsible, positive, and committed. It has been very hard, but with my family, friends, teachers, and counselors, it has all been made possible.

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

Do not give up. Sometimes it feels like it will never end, but all it takes is a little hope. See a counselor and get an education plan. Apply for financial aid and scholarships. You never know, you might actually qualify! I did!

Most importantly, if you don’t understand, seek help. You will find it.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to showcase some of the biggest hearts we have at Cypress College. The people I have mentioned above have played a critical role during my time at school. If not for these people, I may not be where I am today. They all hold a special place in my heart and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to learn from them. I will miss you all as I continue on, but you will always be considered as my family.

#CYProud: Phong Le, Business

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.

Phong Le
Cypress + UCI

Le is a business administration major transferring to the University of California, Irvine following his graduation from Cypress College. He emigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam four years ago and took ESL classes at the School of Continuing Education before starting his studies at the College. Le aspires to become a CPA and have his own practice.

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

I was born in Vietnam, and have been living in the U.S. for four years. In the beginning, I struggled with learning a new language, culture, and customs; but I was lucky and very excited because I knew that the opportunities in this country could allow me to pursue my dream of becoming a successful businessman. Thus, I spent the majority of my time learning to expand my knowledge.

Why did you choose Cypress College?

The School of Continuing Education (SCE) was located at Cypress College, and it had an impact on my English improvement. When I first came to the U.S., I could not speak a word of English. In the beginning, I just wanted to take free-credit ESL classes at SCE to improve my English. Later on, with advice from my brother, friends, and counselors, I decided to attend Cypress College. The SCE and Cypress College together created an amazing ESL program. I truly love Cypress College, its facilities, and the faculty.

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

I have been involved in EOPS for three years. I really enjoyed participating in activities organized by EOPS such as the UC and CSU meetings, the Lung Force Walk, and college campus trips. Additionally, there are a lot of workshops to assist EOPS students with writing a good resume and personal insight essays, and preparing for transfer. I found a lot of helpful information through EOPS activities and took advantage of good opportunities to improve some of my weaknesses, like communication and networking skills.
Since I started taking business classes, I have been involved in a lot of accounting and finance events organized by the business club and business faculty. Through the Career Day and business events, I reinforced my interest in business, especially accounting and finance.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I am passionate about helping other people. I am extremely lucky to have great friends and relatives who lent their time to help me during difficult times. Most of my accomplishments so far could be credited to many good friends’ support, which has served as my inspiration. Thus, whenever I have a chance to help other people, I truly want to share what I know and lift them up.

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

There are many amazing faculty and staff members who have helped me at Cypress College. I have been working with one of the most awesome counselors, Alan Reza from EOPS, who gave me a lot of advice over the course of my education. In addition, I took two ESL classes with Professor Alison Robertson and learned so many reading and writing skills. Professor Alison is extremely professional and organized, and she is also a very kind person.

Lastly, one of my most favorite professors is Professor Ann Solis, who has had an impact on my business interest today. She loves to invite her students to meet her after class for a better understanding of the material. Her explanations and examples are very clear and easy to understand, while her advice is insightful. She is very friendly and kind, too. She also loves to share her students’ success stories to inspire other students. Career Day and other accounting events that she and her students organized are very helpful and motivating. I truly love participating in accounting and finance events with her. She has really helped expand my knowledge and networking skills.

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

I just started working as an intern in a CPA office. This summer, I will spend more time on my internship to learn as much as I can before the Fall semester starts at the University of California, Irvine. I will work with UCI business counselors to set up my new path at the four-year university, join some business clubs, and discover the school’s helpful services during summer. When school starts, I will focus more on the accounting field, and maybe finance as well to become more versatile in the future.

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

I want to get my bachelor’s degree, become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and earn a master’s degree. I would like to work for big companies to earn experience and eventually have my own practice.

What are you most proud of?

I am proud of all the little accomplishments I have achieved while at Cypress College. I am proud of being an active and good student. I am proud of learning so many things I had not known before. I am proud of assisting students and instructors when I worked at the School of Continuing Education (SCE). I am proud of being accepted to UCLA, UCI, UCR, and other CSUs. I am proud of helping many low-income citizens as a volunteer in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program to help them prepare their tax returns.

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

There are always motivated and amazing people around you such as your friends, counselors, or professors. Sometimes, I do get tired. I talk to those motivated people to recharge my passion, dream, and energy.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

If you stay ready, you don’t need to get ready. – Will Smith

Posted in CY

50th Commencement Speakers and Awardees

“Commencement is a joyous time for our graduates because it marks the completion of a significant endeavor and leads to the next phase of their lives. Likewise, it is a celebratory time for the institution as well because we are so proud of the Class of 2017.”Cypress College President Dr. Bob Simpson

 

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Claudia Villasenor, 2017 Outstanding Graduate of the Year

Like many first-generation college students, Claudia Villasenor began her time at Cypress College uncertain with what she wanted to do. Two associate degrees later, the honors student describes Cypress College as “a place that allowed me to find myself and discover the career that I was destined to do.”

Villasenor moved to the United States at age 11, an experience that has shaped her desire to go into education for a profession. She has transferred to California State University, Fullerton where she is working on a bachelor’s degree in child and adolescent development and a Multiple Subject Credential with a bilingual authorization. She plans to teach elementary school.

“I decided to enroll in Cypress College because of the atmosphere of inclusiveness and acceptance that Cypress portrays,” Villasenor said. “My older sister graduated from Cypress College, so she always mentioned the positive atmosphere shat she felt. She mentioned the attentiveness of the faculty and the enthusiasm of the staff.”

At Cypress College, Villasenor participated in the Honors Program, was a member of the Honors Club, participated in events such as Donate a Day of Service, and had her art and writing published in Gender Smash and Sole Image. She has also worked on campus throughout her time at Cypress College as one of the original members of the Student Ambassador team — a role in which she shares her experiences with potential new students.

“Most of these prospective students have the preconceived idea that college education is not something that is within their reach, so my job is to make them think otherwise,” Villasenor said. “I feel accomplished whenever new students come to Cypress College and thank me for helping them during their application process.”

Villasenor earned an associate degree in liberal social arts in social and behavioral science from Cypress College last spring and is completing an associate degree in art this spring.

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Swen Nater, 2017 Outstanding Alumnus

If a person never played high school basketball, what are the odds he would win two NCAA championships? What are the odds of him being selected in the first round of the NBA draft and going on to stardom? Impossible, right? Not for Swen Nater. Swen never played high school ball, nor did he ever start a game in college; however, he was selected in the first round of the NBA draft and went on to play 12 years professionally. He not only started, he led the ABA and NBA in rebounding, became an All-Star, and set several records. Swen Nater never paid much attention to the odds. He loved basketball and dreamed of playing the sport at the highest level. That is exactly what he did, thanks to his inexhaustible industriousness and the countless hours he spent in the gym.

Swen enrolled at Cypress College as a math student. By then he was 6’ 9”, but weighed only 185 pounds. While Swen was eating lunch on his first day of school, the assistant basketball coach, Tom Lubin, noticed his height and asked if he was planning on playing basketball. When Swen said, “No,” Coach Lubin asked if he could work with him and Swen agreed. At Cypress, Swen became a Community College All-American his sophomore year and helped lead the team to a state title. After a game in which Cypress College played against the UCLA freshman team at Pauley Pavilion (he scored 25 points and grabbed 25 rebounds), Coach John Wooden recruited Swen to attend UCLA to play as Bill Walton’s back-up. Walton said Swen was the best center he played against in College — which he did every day at practice.

At a post-season All-Star game that included the best college seniors in the country, Swen started because another player was injured during pre-game warm-ups. Suffice it to say he more than held his own, scoring 34 points, grabbing 25 rebounds, and being named Most Valuable Player. Swen was ABA Rookie of the Year, and the following season he led the ABA with 16.4 rebounds per game. He went on to lead the NBA in rebounds and still holds the all-time record for defensive rebounds in one half at 18. He is one of only five members of the “30/30” club — scoring 30 points and getting 30 rebounds in a single game. The others are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kevin Love, Moses Malone, and Robert Parish. Swen still holds the record for most rebounds in one game for the Milwaukee Bucks at 33. He also holds the all-time California Community College single game rebound record at 39.

Swen resides in Issaquah, Washington with his wife, Wendy. He’s a buyer for Costco and a motivational speaker.

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Jeanette Vázquez, 2017 Commencement Speaker

Jeanette Vázquez is a passionate educator and proud graduate of Cypress College. She was raised in Fullerton and, as a daughter of immigrants, learned from her parents’ hard work, resilience, determination, and integrity. She has dedicated her personal and professional lives to serving her community.

Vázquez attended Cypress College as a first-generation college student. She was the Cypress College Associated Students president and graduated in 2009 with an associate degree in liberal arts. She transferred to the University of California, Berkeley where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and minor in public policy. Following some time as an AmeriCorps Fellow with Iowa Legal Aid, Vázquez then earned her teaching credential and master’s degree in education from Loyola Marymount University.

Vázquez is now a sixth grade teacher in North Orange County and was elected to the Fullerton School Board in November 2016.

During her time at Cypress College, Vázquez became known as a change agent in her student government roles. As president, she reinvigorated the Associated Students Council, oversaw the first formal legislative advocacy efforts of the governing body, and revamped the organizational structure which facilitated greater effectiveness in meeting students’ needs.

She and a group of peers from Associated Students have remained connected to Cypress College in a variety of capacities — including work to help form the first alumni association through the Cypress College Foundation.

#CYProud: Alejandra Garcia, Biology

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.

Alejandra Garcia
Cypress + CSUF

Garcia is a biology major transferring to Cal State Fullerton following her graduation from Cypress College. She is a STEM scholar who enjoys volunteering, and aspires to attend medical school and become an OB-GYN.

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

I grew up in Tustin and attended Tustin High School. I was doing well and had a promising future. Then, in my senior year, I became pregnant. When I told family and friends about my pregnancy, they all immediately said my life was over and that I had ruined my future. The staff at my high school just saw me as another statistic: teen mom who would drop out of high school and work a minimum wage job — that would be all. I, on the other hand, felt even more determined.

I graduated from high school while my newborn daughter was in the stands. I then decided to keep pursuing my education, so I enrolled at Cypress College. I decided to follow my dreams and follow the pre-medicine path. When I would tell friends and family, they all said I was crazy, that I should major in something simple and graduate as soon as possible and get a job. Again, I didn’t listen. I listened to my mom who told me to follow my dreams and that she supported me. Being the first person in my family to attend college had its difficulties. It took me five years to finally be able to graduate and transfer, but it was well worth it when I received acceptance letters from seven out of the eight schools that I applied to.

Why did you choose Cypress College?

At first, I chose Cypress College because it was conveniently close to my house. Later, I did research about the College and found that it was an amazing school. After a few semesters at Cypress College, I was ecstatic about the high quality of professors we have. I have never had the need to take a class at another campus. In fact, I have met people who come from the areas around San Bernardino because we have highly qualified professors on campus. Cypress College is a great school, and I feel very happy with my decision to enroll here.

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

I have been part of the (STEM)2 program since its early days at Cypress College. I can honestly say that a huge part of my college success has been because of the program. As the first person in my family to attend college, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Through this program, not only did I learn how to present myself in a professional manner, but have been able to experience and take part in many different events. I had the opportunity to go to a pre-med conference at the University of California, Davis, where I met with professionals that were already where I want to be one day. I have also been able to give back to my community through this program. I have been a part of the College’s Kindercaminata, where I was in charge of the STEM booth. I have done volunteer work at St. Mary’s Hospital and a local non-profit pregnancy clinic where not only do I get to shadow and learn from healthcare professionals, but also help people from my community. Through the (STEM)2 program, I was able to acquire my first summer research experience at Cal State Fullerton. Most importantly, through the (STEM)2 program, I was able to meet some of my closest friends today.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I am very passionate about helping people, most importantly pregnant teens. I am very fortunate to volunteer at a non-profit pregnancy clinic where I get to mentor pregnant women who are going through a crisis pregnancy. A lot of the times these women feel like there is no help and there is no hope for the future. I like to share my story with these women and tell them that there is always another way and there is always hope. My goal is to one day be an OB-GYN and help pregnant women who feel like they are lost and show them that it is possible to overcome any obstacle.

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

There are four faculty and staff members who have helped me get where I am today. The first faculty member is Professor Robin De Roo. She is the organic chemistry professor here at Cypress College. Her class has been one of the most difficult classes I have ever taken, but she has always motivated me to keep trying. She was also a single mother trying to finish school with two children, so she knows the difficulties of having children and going to school. She has always encouraged me to keep going with school, telling me that although it is difficult, never give up because I’m being a good example for my daughter.

Next is Dr. Adel Rajab. He is one of the biology professors here at Cypress College. Dr. Rajab is an extraordinary professor and human being. I have been able to go to him and ask for letters of recommendation, as well as help with projects at Cypress College. I could always go to him if I needed help and he would do anything in his power to help me. It was an amazing feeling knowing that there was a faculty member that would stop whatever he was doing in order to help me out.

Finally, there is the director of the (STEM)2 program, Ms. Yanet Garcia. Ms. Garcia is the founder of (STEM)2, and I was lucky enough to be one of the first students admitted into the program. I have seen how much she has grown the program and how much she has helped students who are in the program. If it hadn’t been for her and this program, it would have taken me even longer to graduate and transfer. I owe much of my success to her and the (STEM)2 program.

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

This summer I will be doing research at Cal State Fullerton where I will be working on how copper is transported from mother to fetus during pregnancy. I will also be transferring in the fall to Cal State Fullerton where I will be working on my bachelor’s degree in biological science. I hope to continue my involvement in the research project, as well as volunteering at St. Mary’s Hospital and the non-profit pregnancy clinic.

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

My long-term goal is to go to medical school. My dream medical school is the University of California, San Francisco, but I would be happy to attend any medical school. After I graduate from medical school, I hope to specialize as an OB-GYN to work with women who are in a crisis pregnancy. I also hope to one day have my own clinic that provides women with all the services they need in order to feel that an unplanned pregnancy is not the end of the world.

What are you most proud of?

What I am most proud of is that my daughter is seeing her mother go on this journey and at her young age, is seeing and understanding how important education is. I am also very proud that my mother, who was also a single mother, is seeing her hard work paying off. I have my daughter and my mother to share my achievements with because I am very thankful for their unconditional love and support.

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

My bit of advice that I would like to share to current and future students is to not give up. There have been many times that I felt like I couldn’t do this anymore, when I felt like the classes were too hard and maybe I was not cut out to do this. Well, unfortunately the classes do not get easier but there is a light at the end of the tunnel! You always have to remember what is driving you and not lose focus on that. Surround yourself with people that are positive and have that same drive as you to keep each other focused. You will get through this, and once you get that degree or land that dream job, it will all be worth it.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I would just like to thank everyone I’ve had the pleasure of meeting at Cypress College. I have met amazing people in my five years here. There were times where it got rough, but there was always someone who pushed me to keep going. It has been an amazing experience, and I am very proud to be part of the Cypress College 2017 graduating class.

Posted in CY

#CYProud: Chidi Ewenike, 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.

Chidi Ewenike
Cypress + Cal Poly Pomona

Chidi Ewenike is a physics and mathematics major transferring to Cal Poly Pomona following his graduation from Cypress College. He plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and is looking forward to a career in robotics and automated systems.

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

What many do not know is that I am a half-Nigerian Finnish immigrant. I moved to Brea, California from a little town, Karkkila, Finland, at a young age where I have lived ever since. My interests in life include soccer, science, reading, travelling, gaming, and working on little automation projects at home.

Why did you choose Cypress College?

I chose Cypress College because I was given the opportunity to play soccer for the Chargers. Ed Kephart, the men’s soccer coach at the time, was one of the coaches at my club and he reached out to me to play for the team, which I enthusiastically agreed to. Since my return to school in pursuit of an engineering degree, I chose to remain at Cypress due to the strength of the (STEM)2 program and the friends I have made at this school.

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

My initial involvement was participating in the men’s soccer team. At the time, I was pursuing a degree in English, but after sustaining another head injury while playing, I realized that I had no interest in English and I wanted to pursue a different career. I decided to join the Finnish military and it was there that I acknowledged my fascination with the development of technology. I constantly saw different innovations being made in robotics, automated systems, and electronics, which sparked my interest in becoming an engineer.

Since returning from Finland, I became fully committed to becoming an engineer and joined clubs and organizations to further this goal. I am the Calculus I Supplemental Instruction Leader at Cypress College because I truly enjoy the subject, as well as assisting upcoming scientists and engineers with this study. I am also a heavily active member in the (STEM)2 program, as well as the Leaders of Tomorrow Club and Society of Women Engineers. I was also involved in the STEM Club, and the Engineering and Physics Club.

During the summer of 2016, I conducted research at Cal State Fullerton in “Brain Computer Interface Technology: Home Automation for Assistive Technology.” Our team designed a headset that controlled household devices using blinks to assist patients suffering from debilitating disabilities with performing normal functions. The feeling when a design comes together with such resounding benefit for others is indescribably rewarding.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I am most passionate about pursuing a career in robotics and automated systems. We live in an age of exponentially rising technological advancements commonly referred to as the “Third Industrial Revolution.” Technology is growing so rapidly that today’s innovations are yesterday’s news. The shame is that these innovations occur so frequently that society embraces these technological revolutions as expectations rather than the miracles that they are. Not for me though. These innovations are and have been absolutely enthralling to witness: the dawn of an automated era. Such advancements have truly captivated my interest and imagination.

Every day, I visit my favorite engineering and technology forums and am awestruck by the newest geniuses of the human mind, the realization that all of the complexities that we, as a society, utilize are merely human creations. It was this aspect that drew me to engineering and so much so that I am pursuing a degree in electrical engineering with a minor in computer science. It is my sincerest hope that I can one day contribute to this “revolutionary” period, particularly in the field of automation and robotics.

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

There are many individuals who have selflessly done so much for me over the past few years in order for me to succeed. I would like to thank:

  • Yanet Garcia and Rosa Mejia for tirelessly providing us STEM students with countless opportunities to thrive as scientists and engineers. I joined the (STEM)2 program as a student with a dream and thanks to their efforts, it is now a reality.

  • Professors Hoa Tran and Christina Plett for providing me with a true love and appreciation for my studies, notably in mathematics. Their guidance and passion for their preferred field has always inspired me. Also, the magnitude with which the two of them care for their students has made school enjoyable and inspired me to one day become a professor myself.

  • Dr. Brinda Subramaniam for always pushing me beyond my limits so I can one day reach my potential. Dr. Brinda holds her students to a standard that every student should hold themselves to truly be successful, especially in science and engineering. The lifelong lessons Dr. Brinda provided me will not only make me a superlative engineer, but a quality person as well.

I do not know where I would be in my life were it not for these individuals and everything they sacrifice for students like myself. I feel truly blessed to have had the honor and privilege to learn from these professionals.

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

I was selected to participate in a summer research program this summer in robotics at the University of California, San Diego to further my development in the field of robotics and automated systems. Upon transferring, my plans are to join the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and a robotics team to gain more hands-on experience in my desired field. I am also looking to obtain an internship to, again, gain more hands-on experience and bolster my resume for when I complete my schooling overall.

With my associate degrees in physics and mathematics, I am hoping to continue gaining experience as a private tutor to refine core engineering material and develop my teaching skills to pursue a career in teaching later down the road.

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

My long-term goals are to make serious contributions toward society in robotics and automated systems. There is so much potential to expand human convenience through innovations like autonomous vehicles, bionic prosthetics, and home automation that I would like to contribute to. These are mere examples of the endless possibilities in this field of which I am aspiring to.

I ultimately want to gain as much experience as possible — both professionally and academically — to one day obtain my Ph.D. and become a consultant. I feel that once I accomplish a fulfilling career, it is my duty to pass down my knowledge and experience to the next generation by also becoming a professor.

What are you most proud of?

I would have to say that I am very proud of how far I have come. When I came to this school in 2010, I had no intentions of pursuing a meaningful education and my grades reflected this. There was a point when I did not think I would ever transfer to a four-year institution. When I left for the Finnish military, it was with the intention of finding my passion and gaining the discipline needed to succeed in academia. I returned to Cypress with one goal in mind and I can proudly say that, with the support of my mother, sister, friends, and faculty, I have accomplished that goal.

I am also very proud to represent the black community in the STEM field. This community is exceedingly underrepresented, and I feel it is a responsibility to inspire future generations of African-Americans to pursue a career in STEM, particularly in engineering. I am fortunate to have had countless individuals who fought relentlessly for me to have the equal opportunities I have today and it is not a sacrifice I take in vain.

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

Work hard and leave with no regrets. Make the most of your time at Cypress College by performing the best you possibly can in all classes, as well as seeking opportunities where they are seemingly unobtainable. Do not wake up tomorrow thinking, “Well, what if I studied a little harder for that exam?” or “Why did I not participate in this invaluable program with so much to offer?” This school was built for students to succeed. Join organizations like (STEM)2 and get involved in clubs. Take advantage of this invaluable opportunity in every way possible. Never limit yourself; you deserve what you work for.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I would like to thank my family, friends, and faculty for everything they’ve done for me because I would be lost were it not for them. I am eternally grateful to have attended Cypress College and to have been involved with this fine institution. Thank you again.

Posted in CY

#CYProud: Malik Elasha, Physics

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.

Malik Elasha
Cypress + Cal

Malik Elasha is a physics major transferring to the University of California, Berkeley following his graduation from Cypress College. He is a STEM scholar who hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in condensed matter physics and move on to an industry career researching nanotechnology.

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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 Garden Grove. For the first half of high school, I attended Pacifica, but due to getting sick, I had to attend an online school called Pacific Coast for my remaining time of high school. Also due to my sickness, I had missed out on several classes and didn’t have the required units to graduate, so I took a proficiency exam to test out of high school and start at community college. I have a profound interest in physics and my hobbies are playing basketball and tennis, reading, and playing video games.

Why did you choose Cypress College?

I chose Cypress due to it being ten minutes from my home, as well as hearing a lot of good things about the school’s STEM Department. After attending for a semester, I decided that I really enjoyed all the professors I had taken classes with, and I heard about the (STEM)2 Program from several students I had met in my classes. Between the incredible faculty and the amazing opportunities in the (STEM)2 Program, I decided that staying at Cypress College was the best decision I could make.

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

During my time at Cypress College, I have been involved in the (STEM)2 Program. My time in the program has exposed me to so many incredible friends who are also pursuing a STEM major, as well as many amazing opportunities that I wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise. (STEM)2 has allowed me to learn from the experiences of so many amazing guest speakers and provided me with many different opportunities to apply for research programs and internships. Thanks to (STEM)2, I was accepted to do research at the University of California, San Diego as a part of the school’s Summer Training Academy for Research Success. The (STEM)2 Program was a large part of my life at Cypress College, from the lessons I have learned, to all the wonderful study groups and friendships that I have formed with other individuals in the program.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I am very passionate about my physics studies. As a physics major, the things I learn in my physics classes will stay with me for the rest of my time in school as well as throughout my career. I am passionate about physics because it is an incredible science that teaches me so many amazing things about how the world works and how I can work to improve it. My passion is further fueled by my motivation to use the things I learn to make a difference in the world by researching nanotechnology.

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

During my time at Cypress College, I have had absolutely incredible professors who have all made a really big impact on my life and education. The two faculty that have had the most impact on me are Professor Christina Plett and Professor Brinda Subramaniam. Professor Plett has been a very large influence on me during my time in her 250A and 250B classes. Her passion for math and the joy she has teaching it really gave me a much better perspective on the subject. Her class has led me to really enjoy math, appreciate all the applications of what we learn, and to want to learn more about math.

Dr. Subramaniam has been influential in helping me to decide what I want to study within physics. Not only was her incredible teaching of electricity and magnetism very educational for me, but during my time in her class, she gave me a lot of advice on what she recommends for me to pursue in physics as well as advice on which schools I should apply to and why. These two professors have changed my future and my perspective on my education, and for that I will be forever grateful.

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

From Cypress College, I will be transferring to the University of California, Berkeley where I will continue to work toward my undergrad in physics. I hope to get involved in undergraduate research in condensed matter physics while I am at Cal.

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

My long-term educational goal is to complete a Ph.D. in condensed matter physics. I aspire to use that Ph.D. to pursue an industry career researching nanotechnology. I currently plan to finish my undergrad in physics at UC Berkeley, complete a Ph.D. in condensed matter physics, work on industry research in nanotechnology, and toward the end of my career I want to take what I learned from my long time in school as well as my career and teach the next generation of engineers and scientists.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of how far I have come in these two years I have spent at Cypress College. When I started here, I set a goal for myself to give all my time and effort to my education and to do the best I can in all my classes. I am proud that I was able to stick with that and dedicate all of my time to studying and maintaining my 4.0 GPA.

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

The best advice I could give to any student is to work hard, focus on your education, and don’t be afraid to open up to your professors. Give your utmost effort and time to education since the return for what is put in is incomparable. Being dedicated and committed to doing the best you can in all your classes will go a long way toward helping you accomplish both your educational and career goals.

I would also advise students to open up to their professors and ask them for advice. Professors really want to help their students and can give great advice on how to better prepare for classes. Professors can also provide students with information on their fields of interest and their own experiences to help students make decisions on what degrees and careers they want to pursue.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I want to say thank you. Thank you to all the incredible friends who helped me stay motivated and focused even as our classes got more and more difficult. Thank you to the wonderful faculty who have expanded my knowledge and education, helped me find the path I wish to pursue, and have helped get me to take this next step of transferring to UC Berkeley.

Posted in CY

#CYProud: Phuoc Vo, Culinary Arts

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.

Phuoc Vo
Cypress + Culinary

Vo is a culinary arts major joining the Marriott Voyage Global Leadership Development Program following his graduation from Cypress College. He was the top choice in the nation for the program, which prepares participants for hospitality and culinary management positions, and will start working at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa this summer.

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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. I was always fascinated by food and how new trends are constantly evolving cooking and plating techniques. I originally went to the University of California, Santa Barbara for pharmacy, but once I actually started working in a pharmacy, I quickly realized that it wasn’t for me. After I graduated in 2015, I returned to Orange County and heard about the Cypress College School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management program. From then on, I decided to pursue my passion in culinary and enrolled in the program.

Why did you choose Cypress College?

I chose Cypress College because of the good student-to-faculty ratio and small classroom settings. In these classroom sizes, you are treated like a student and not just another number. I was able to build a great student-faculty relationship, which is very difficult to do in larger institutions like the UCs and CSUs. Cypress College was also an affordable option that fit my budget perfectly.

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

As a part of the Special Events class, I served as the supervising chef for Cypress College School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Program Advisory Board Meeting and Career Fair of Spring 2017. In this leadership role, I facilitated communication among the student body while executing a luncheon for our hospitality employer partners.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I am most passionate about cooking and creating new dishes for others. There’s just something about seeing the smiles on people’s faces as they enjoy the food I make. The sense of satisfaction I get is indescribable and something I always look forward to.

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

  • Lisa Clark, the department coordinator and professor of hospitality management, is someone who is genuinely passionate about hospitality and dedicated to her students. She has always supported me and pushed me past my limits to challenge and develop me.

  • Chef Jeremy Peters always nurtured my curiosity and pushed me to be creative by allowing me to experiment in class. If I wanted to try something new with a dish and he didn’t have the equipment, he would try his best to get it.

  • Chef Stephanie Rosati pushed me through Baking I and Garde Manger. She has high expectations of me, which pushed me to constantly improve myself to deliver.

  • Chef Tracey Heine is the backbone of our program and is always around, ready to give tips and tricks on how to improve my dish or how to be more efficient.

  • Although Chef Amanda Gargano just joined this semester, we were able to connect through our shared interest in food. She inspires me to stay up to date on food trends and learn from them to boost my creativity.

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

After I graduate from Cypress College, I will be joining the Marriott International team as a Culinary Voyager. I will be immersed in their culture built on putting people first and constantly pursuing excellence during a one-year internship at the JW Marriott in Palm Desert. I will get hands-on training and learn about managerial responsibilities from the property’s executive chef and team.

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

My long-term goal is to become an executive chef of my own restaurant where I can pass on the knowledge I picked up through the years and bring out the potential in others.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of representing Cypress College at the Marriott International Voyager Program final interviews. This was the first year that Marriott decided to partner with a community college and I was lucky to receive the honor of being the best of 20 culinary students across the United States applying for this internship. I astounded recruiters and chefs with the plate I presented to them, and I strongly believe I’ve opened a world of possibilities for students majoring in culinary arts and hospitality in community colleges.

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

Enjoy your time at school and network with as many students and faculty as possible because you never know where that can get you. Most importantly, always stay humble in your endeavors.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

This is a quote that I live by and keeps me going. Whenever I feel like I’m in a rut, I remind myself of this quote and it gets me out of it.

“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.” – Lance Armstrong

College Dedicates Holocaust Survivor Photo Gallery

Cypress College held a dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Holocaust Survivor Photo Gallery in the second floor hallway of the Student Center. The gallery features photos taken by Photography Professor Clifford Lester, whose parents were Holocaust survivors.

“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to photograph the survivors and to present to our campus community, and our community around, the message of the survivor,” Lester said at the ceremony, “which I think, over the years to come when we are all gone, that their words and their spirit should continue to bring light into our world, and to guide us into how we treat and respect one another.”

Dr. Jacob Eisenbach, a Holocaust survivor and the keynote speaker at Cypress College’s 2016 Yom HaShoah event, praised Cypress College, Dr. Simpson, and Professor Lester for opening the gallery and making inclusiveness and peace a priority.

“This gallery is teaching our students, it’s teaching our communities…that genocide and Holocaust should never be forgotten,” he said at the dedication.

Piri Katz, another Holocaust survivor and a guest of honor at this year’s Yom HaShoah event, also attended the dedication with her daughter.

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Cypress College President Dr. Bob Simpson said efforts like this photo gallery and the College’s Yom HaShoah Holocaust Day of Remembrance event came out of a desire to “support and advance that core value of the College of inclusiveness” through the College’s Diversity Committee.

He added, “Another message that I have shared since I became president was I want us as a College to dream big dreams. Let’s not waste time on the little stuff. What can we do that’s going to have a profound and lasting impact?”

All members of the Cypress College campus and extended community are invited to walk through the gallery and learn the survivors’ stories.

Northern California College Tour Opens Up Possibilities

Opening possibilities for all students is one of the core goals of Cypress College, so offering programs that provide a support system, expose students to wide-ranging educational and life opportunities, and help facilitate success at all levels, like the Puente, Legacy, and Honors programs, is one of the many priorities of the College.

Two buses full of Cypress College Puente, Legacy, and Honors students fought traffic out of Southern California Thursday, April 20, for the opportunity to visit Central and Northern California public university campuses. It was the first time students from all three programs went on a college tour together.

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Students visited four campuses and the California State Capitol on the three-day tour that also provided the opportunity to see and experience other parts of the state.

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The group’s first stop: the beautiful, beachfront campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara. Students chowed down at one of the campus’ four dining commons alongside UCSB students before heading out on a student-guided tour of the expansive campus.

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“One of the campuses I really loved was UC Santa Barbara,” said Karen Lopez, a Puente student who plans to double major in psychology and English. “As we were touring the university, I could imagine myself there as a student. The campus was absolutely beautiful and it was near a beach.”

“I personally have never been a fan of the beach,” she added, “but just thinking about the peaceful environment and how calming the sound of the ocean is makes me think it would be a great way to study for exams and work on homework for classes.”

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Following the stop at UCSB, everyone reloaded the buses for a four-hour trek up miles of idyllic coastline and into the hills and winding acres of Central California vineyards and farmland off the historic 101.

Destination: the South Bay Area city of San Jose for an introduction and short walk around the San Jose State University campus.

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Representatives from the university’s EOPS program gave a short, but comprehensive presentation about the program: how to apply and qualify, what the requirements and benefits are, etc. They also heard from students in the school’s MEChA student organization and the Associated Students president-elect about college life.

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Michelle Chitica, a Puente student and radiologic technology major at Cypress, said she felt very privileged touring the campuses and “listening to the students and other speakers share their stories of success.”

Students also took interest in the Olympic Black Power Statue on the SJSU campus, and learned the history behind the statue from a student.

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Karina Lopez, a Cypress College Puente Program student studying business administration, said she wasn’t too fond of the SJSU campus as a whole, but thought the statue was inspiring.

“It was great that students gave us a short presentation about it,” she said, “because we were able to understand the significance of the statue and how SJSU students were the ones who protested and fought to have it on campus, despite the college administration taking credit for it.”

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The next day, the buses headed further north to visit the University of California, Davis, known for its strong science, veterinary, and agriculture programs. Students were treated to a presentation about UCD and its programs, outlining entrance requirements and what the university looks for in potential students, and various programs the university has to help students along.

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Student guides then took groups on tours of the huge campus—the biggest UC by acreage.

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Lisette Figueroa, a nursing major in the Puente Program at Cypress College, said she “fell in love” with the Davis and San Jose universities and that they “felt just like home even though I was seven hours away from where I live.

She added, “Visiting these campuses not only motivates me, but made me question why I did not go to college sooner.”

After Davis, students were treated to a tour of the California State Capitol in Sacramento, courtesy of Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva’s office. The Assemblywoman’s district includes Cypress College.

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Students learned about the state legislature and the work that is done in the Capitol. They even had the opportunity to enter the Assembly Chamber, one of the most secure areas in the State Capitol building, and sit in the same seats assembly members sit in on a day-to-day basis.

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“The tour at the State Capitol was amazing,” said Karina Lopez, the business administration major. “It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to go into the Legislature room.”

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Michelle Chitica, the radiologic technology student, added that visiting the State Capitol made her think about political science “for the first time.”

The second day ended with some time exploring in the heart of San Francisco. One of the great things about the college tour is that it not only introduces students to many different campuses to consider continuing their educations at after Cypress, but it takes them to places they might never have been to or considered visiting.

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Some students had never been to San Francisco before, let alone out of Southern California. John Rojas said visiting the city was one of his favorite parts of the trip.

“It was my first time there and I was very excited about crossing the Golden Gate Bridge,” he said.

To finish off the tour, students visited Cal—the University of California, Berkeley—on Cal Day, the university’s annual open house.

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Gabby Garcia and Jesus Madrigal, both Cypress College alumni and former Puente students, met up with the group to take students on a quick tour of the campus and share their educational journeys. Both graduated from Cypress in 2010 and transferred to Cal, where they earned their bachelor’s degrees. Garcia now works for Google and Madrigal is continuing his studies at Cal in a doctoral program.

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After the tour, the students sat down for a presentation and had the opportunity to speak with current Cal students. Quite a few students from the group were impressed with the school and expressed their desire to transfer to Cal after completing their studies at Cypress College.

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Michael Maxwell, a Legacy Program student and sociology major at Cypress College, reflected on the entire tour, saying it “expanded my horizons and ignited a fire within me.”

“As a first-generation college student, I had no road map; now I know what lies before me,” he said. “This trip is something I will always remember and I am grateful that I got to experience so many amazing universities and get a better understanding of the transfer process.” He said after this tour, he has decided to transfer to a UC school.

Employees to Recognize Retiring Colleagues, Celebrate Years of Service

Cypress College faculty and staff will celebrate the end of the school year, and recognize retiring colleagues and coworkers receiving service pins at a luau in the Theater Lobby Wednesday, May 3. There are 26 employees retiring this year and 65 employees being recognized for their years of service at the College.

Retirements

  • Raul Alvarez, Foundation/Community Relations
  • Karen Cant, Administrative Services
  • Nina DeMarkey, Social Sciences
  • Steven Donley, CTE/Economic Development/Grants
  • Bonnie Fast, Library
  • Pat Ganer, LA/Communications
  • David Gibson, Physical Plant / M&O
  • Carol Harvey, Health Science/Nursing
  • Robert Johnson, Fine Arts/Photography
  • Michael Kavanaugh, Systems Technology Services
  • Velia Lawson, Counseling
  • Kevin Luckey, Physical Plant / M&O
  • Barbara Marshall, LA/English
  • Agnes Martinez, Counseling
  • Debra McPherson, LA/ESL
  • Barbara Meyer, Fine Arts/Theater
  • Jeanne Miller, Business&CIS/Accounting
  • Tien Nguyen, Physical Plant / M&O
  • Mary Rothera, SEM
  • Cathy San Roman, Physical Plant / M&O
  • John Sciacca, Health Sciences
  • Robert Simpson, Administration
  • Gail Smead, SSS/CARE-CalWORKS
  • Shirley Smith, Campus Safety
  • Judith Swytak, Health Science/Nursing
  • David Wassenaar, Business/CIS

 

Service Recognition

Five Years  

  • Sharon Bataran, Health Center
  • Yadira Cazales, Production Center
  • Adam Eckenrode, Mathematics
  • Marla McBride, Health Center
  • Charles Rogers, Dramatic Arts
  • Ann Sheridan-Solis, Accounting
  • Nadia Wallace, Fine Arts Office
  • Marredda Williams, Nursing

Ten Years  

  • Julie Angevine, Science, Engineering & Math Office
  • Remedios Anzurez, Custodial Services
  • Blanca Atkins, Admissions & Records
  • Gloria Badal, Political Science
  • Raymond Collins, Custodial Services
  • David Dang, Biological Sciences
  • Paul De Dios, Counseling & Student Development
  • Robin De Roo, Chemistry
  • Michael Faraci, Nursing
  • Sally Frumkin, Nursing
  • Raul Garcia, Custodial Services
  • Miguel Garcia, Custodial Services
  • Ruth Gutierrez, Reading
  • Michael Klyde, Auto Technology
  • Michael Land, Academic Computing
  • Rebeca Laveaga, Transfer Center
  • Marcus Marquardt, Psychiatric Technology
  • Joseph Melodia, English
  • Fumio Ogoshi, Biological Sciences
  • William Pashaie, Library
  • Jeremy Peters, Culinary Arts
  • Larry Ramos, Auto Collision
  • Linda Redd, Admissions & Records
  • Ramon Sanchez, Custodial Services
  • Jose Sanchez Duran, Biological Sciences
  • Martin Santos, Custodial Services
  • Bryan Seiling, History
  • Robyn Udell, Biological Sciences

Fifteen Years  

  • Jennifer Coopman, Mathematics
  • Ayman Gadalla, Computer Information Systems
  • Willis Heusser, Philosophy
  • Behzad Izadi, Computer Information Systems
  • John Lambros, Forensics
  • Eunju Lee, Mathematics
  • Clifford Lester, Photography
  • Zoe Megginson, Learning Resource Center
  • Laurie Morvan, Mathematics
  • Danny Ortega, Public Safety
  • Sylvia Paek, Mathematics
  • Nancy Pound, Social Science Office
  • Jaime Ramos, Psychiatric Technology
  • Carlos Sandoval, Psychology
  • Judith Swytak, Nursing
  • Penn Wu, Computer Information Systems

Twenty Years 

  • Keith Cobb, Financial Aid Ofiice
  • Mary Forman, English
  • Jane Jepson, Counseling Office
  • Sergio Leonardo, Grounds Maintenance & Repairs
  • John Linhares, Grounds Maintenance & Repairs
  • Daniel Pelletier, Counseling Office
  • Stuart Rosenberg, English

Twenty-five Years  

  • Dana Bedard, Matriculation
  • Joseph Vasquez, Custodial Services

Thirty Years  

  • Bonnie Fast, Library
  • Troy McKeown, Academic Computing
  • Fidel Ugarte, Grounds Maintenance & Repairs

Thirty-five Years  

  • Carole Villasenor, Counseling Office