#CYProud: William Conley

Commencement is a celebratory time on campus. To capture this year-end spirit, we asked our faculty to tell us which students they are most proud of. Some of those profiled in this year’s #CYProud 2016 feature have overcome significant personal and financial hurdles to reach their educational goals; others have distinguished themselves as exemplars of academic achievement and/or student leadership.

As part of this year’s series, we are pleased to introduce William Conley who will transfer to the University of California, Irvine in the fall. William was an English major who will transition to political science studies at UCI. Congratulation, William, and best of luck in all your future endeavors! We’re proud of you #CYProud 2016.

William Conley, Cypress to UC Irvine
William Conley, Cypress to UC Irvine

#CYProud: William Conley, Cypress to UC Irvine.

  1. Origin – what is your back story (hometown, high school, personal story…)

I was born September 30th, 1993, and grew up in Yorba Linda, California. I went to Esperanza High School in Anaheim. I’ve enjoyed writing since the Fourth Grade and through the years I’ve come to also enjoy traveling.

  1. Why Cypress?

I was a rather slothful high school student, only doing enough work to get by and sometimes not even that. At a certain point in my high school years, I resigned myself to the idea of community college, and chose not to bother with studying hard for the SATs or maintaining a GPA high enough for a four-year institution. My laziness continued into the summer of 2012, when I put off registering for college classes until it was much too late. I was closer to the Fullerton campus, but due to errors on my end I registered all my first semester classes at Cypress. I accepted the error, realizing I was lucky to have classes at all, bit the bullet, and made the longer drive to Cypress. I have stayed at Cypress ever since. The Cypress campus is open, less claustrophobic, and even prettier I thought. Above al, the faculty anchored me to Cypress. I was thrilled by their dedication, passion, knowledge for their subjects, and their willingness to always meet with me during office hours to talk. I felt valued and included in a way I’d never experienced from past teachers.

  1. @Cypress – what have you been involved with? How has your path unfolded?

At Cypress, as in high school, I started as a rather passive student who didn’t engage in extracurricular projects or events. My grades improved from what I was used to earning, but despite the collection of clubs I might have enjoyed joining, I remained a student inactive in campus events. “Come in, do your work, go home” was my motto, and I stuck to that tightly for my first years at Cypress.

In the Spring 2014 semester, things began to change. I took a film class, and suddenly I felt a drive to perform at my best. This wasn’t always present in my past work, but it was for this class. Through that course, I was nominated for the Bill Clarke Memorial Scholarship. I applied and won, and then things changed for me. I suddenly felt much more optimistic about my future, about my own work ethic, and about where I was going. Around that same time, I learned that in Spring 2015, Fullerton College would be hosting a semester abroad in Rome. Wanderlust kicked in. I signed up.

There is a lot that can be said about studying abroad, about how valuable it is and how much it will change you. All of it is true. Never did I imagine that the accident of ending up at Cypress College would catapult me into a journey of this size. Through it I transformed as a person. When I returned, I had at least one more semester of classes to complete before I could transfer. Nothing was the same after that trip. Simple as that.

I finished my requirements in the Fall 2015 semester, and with one more semester free before transferring, I chose to take a Creative Writing class. As this was my sole class, I wanted to devote myself one-hundred and twenty percent to utilizing its resources. I spent the semester practicing my writing, reading as much material as I could, and most importantly, joining the first extracurricular club of my life. I joined Cypress College’s Creative Guild club, and through circumstance became its president. With our small size, we coordinated and assembled the Cypress College publication Sole Image. I have made good friends in this club and learned a great deal I wouldn’t have if I simply confined myself to my class. Towards the end of this semester, I was fortunate enough to also win Cypress College’s Violet & William O’Brien Scholarship for poetry. Through Sole Image and the Creative Guild, I felt like I was truly leaving a mark on Cypress before I transferred. That felt wonderful.

  1. Faculty or staff that have helped you get where you are today.

Cypress has incredible faculty who have helped me in incredible ways. I do not want to diminish any of the work of faculty by stating a few by name. Throughout my time at Cypress I have been blessed with a collection of inspiring teachers. These are simply three of the most notable examples:

  • Robert Greg Cavin — His Intro to Philosophy class was the first college course of my life, and my introduction to Cypress. It was nothing but positive, and I went on to take many more of his classes. He taught his material with poise and grace, and was particularly skilled in concealing his opinions in favor of teaching both sides of an issue. He taught students how to think, not what to think, is a pleasure to speak with during office hours, and was a source of immense inspiration for me in my early days at Cypress.
  • Kathryn Sonne — Kathryn was my introduction to the Cypress College Honors Program. She taught her classes in an open but controlled seminar style that she wasn’t afraid to let deviate from curriculum if an interesting topic had been raised. She augmented her classes with valuable service learning and extracurricular activities that provided opportunities to grow and experience new places and ideas. As one of the teachers who went on the Study Abroad trip to Rome in Spring 2015, I got to know her more, and she is wonderful and thoughtful company inside and outside the classroom. I am honored to have said I’ve traveled with her.
  • Stuart Rosenberg — Stuart Rosenberg’s impact on my life cannot be put into enough words. I was introduced to him through his film class, and was immediately enthralled with his teaching style. He taught with care and attention, and could articulate complex ideas and the abstractions of writing and art to his students. When watching him teach, you can feel his investment in his craft. I call it his craft because that is what it feels like. I was fortunate enough not just to have taken two of his classes but to have been given two opportunities at winning scholarships from him. When reviewing student work, his feedback is honest, polite, and always of great value. I feel I have grown substantially as a writer from my studying under him. It is with sadness that I leave Cypress not having taken every single class he teaches. He has simply changed my life.
  1. Post Cypress – what do you hope to do in the near term? What are your plans at UCI?

I am transferring to UCI as a Political Science major, and aim to continue studying that field through to my Bachelor’s. I also aim to explore UCI’s clubs and programs thoroughly in the hope of finding—or building—a community of writers with whom I can share work and ideas. My time in Cypress College’s Creative Guild has taught me the impact extracurricular clubs can have on an academic life.

  1. Advice to Future Students

If you (incoming students) are enrolling in courses at Cypress, you’re in for a great experience. There were many things I wish I knew going into Cypress that I’m only aware of now that I’m leaving. For one, work very closely with counselors and advisors early on. Community college is wonderful for its affordability and accessibility, but if you do not go in with a plan it can be a vortex of switching majors and completing prerequisites. Even if you are undecided, work with counselors on picking the most time efficient path to your goal, whether it be transferring or completing a certificate. Finally my advice to students is to really make the most of your time here at Cypress. Cypress has many clubs and activities that you can involve yourself with, and doing so will help you grow tremendously, I promise. The extra time commitments and responsibilities that can come with clubs may seem daunting, but the reward—experiencing new people and ideas in new settings—is simply worth it. I say this because I truly wish I had engaged myself with clubs early on at Cypress, and I didn’t. I learned the value of such clubs right as I was leaving. Learn from my mistake, and invest yourself in your time here. You will not regret it.

  1. Longer-Term Vision – what do you aspire to?

I have learned that I love traveling. In the distant future I want to see the world, as much of it as I can before my time on it is done. You know, scratching that wanderlust itch.

Writing has been something I have done since the Fourth Grade. If I can’t get over writing for pleasure now, I don’t think I ever will. I would very much like to publish in the future and establish myself somewhere in the literary world. A lofty goal, perhaps—a lofty goal I’m going to chase with conviction.

Thinking about teaching too. We’ll see on that one.

  1. What are you most proud of?

I’ll say that I am proud of the myriad experiences I have been lucky enough to have abroad traveling. I am proud of my writing, proud of having this as a hobby. Whatever the strength of my work is, I am proud whenever I’m completing a work or piece. I am proud of signing my name on the work. I am proud of owning what I write.

  1. Anything else you’d like to add…

I continue to see a prevailing stigma surrounding community college. Sometimes it is mocked or dismissed as invalid or illegitimate. To students who attend community college, don’t buy it for a second. Never let those people distract you. Community college is a life-changing experience all its own, with unique lessons and perspectives on life to teach you—lessons you might not have received had you gone elsewhere. Press on always in your education. Your triumph is in your decision to pursue one.

William Conley, Class of 2016 - Cypress to UC Irvine.
William Conley, Class of 2016 – Cypress to UC Irvine

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Cypress College is recognized as one of California’s top community colleges. Recent accolades include:

– #1 in the U.S. | Top Toyota T-TEN Auto-Tech Program in the Nation.

– #2 in C.A. | Top Two ESL & Basic Skills English Programs in California.

– #3 in C.A. | Ranked as a Top Three California Community College (Schools.com)

– #3 in the Region | Ranked Top Three in Greater Los Angeles & Orange County for Student Transfer and Graduation Rates (EdSmart.org)

– 15 of 113 | California Community Colleges piloting a Bachelor’s Degree (Mortuary Science)

– #17 in the U.S. | National Ranking on MTV-U’s website “Rate-My-Professor”

– Top National Licensure Exam Pass Rates | Perfect state licensure pass rates for students in the following programs: Dental Hygiene, Diagnostic Medical Sonography: Abdomen; Diagnostic Medical Sonography (OB/Gyn); Diagnostic Medical Sonography: Physics; and Mortuary Science: Sciences. 90+% state licensure exam pass rates for students in the following programs: Dental Assisting; Mortuary Science (Arts); Radiology Technology. And 85%+ state licensure rates for students in: Health Information Technology; Nursing; and Psychiatric Technology.

– 2/3ds of the Class of 2015 qualified for transfer to a UC or CSU institution.

– 76 Orange Empire Athletics Conference Titles

– 25 California Community College Athletic Association State Championship Titles

Outstanding Graduate Jeffrey Anderson’s Young Niece Fueled His Desire for Education

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“I was a fraud.” That’s how Jeffrey Anderson viewed himself. That feeling is also the reason he’s wearing a cap and gown today.

For some the decision to enroll in college is rote. For them, the expectation of a higher education has been there as long as they can remember. Anderson’s path was just about the opposite.

A high school dropout who had spent many of his 37 years “watching life pass me by,” his decision to enroll at Cypress College was inspired by his role caring for his young niece. Anderson said that as a child, things came easily. As a result, he wasn’t interested in anything difficult. When school became hard, he simply walked away.

“The turning point in my life was the birth of my brother’s first born,” he said. “As I tried to instill in her the ideal work ethic and morals that will help her succeed in life, I felt like a hypocrite. I felt like she could tell.”

Anderson said the one step he could take was to become a better person. As he spent time with his niece, he was reminded of a long-time goal to join many others in his extended family by becoming an educator. His research guided him to Cypress College’s Teacher Preparation Program. Three years later, Anderson maintains a flawless 4.0 GPA, has completed 84.5 units, and graduates with an associate in arts for transfer degree in Elementary Teacher Education. He’ll begin classes at California State University, Long Beach in the fall.

Along his journey, Anderson has also learned braille, became a Library of Congress-certified transcriber, and has traveled making presentations in the field. The company he works for provides braille transcripts for students across the entire 113-campus California Community Colleges system.

Anderson has also impressed his faculty.

“His term paper was truly outstanding — one of the best I have ever received from an undergraduate in my entire teaching career,” said Dr. Greg Cavin, chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies. That’s heady praise from a professor who has also taught at the University of California, Irvine, at San Diego State University, Chapman University, and Whittier College.

“He displays a clear passion for the field of education,” said Sherry Ward, Anderson’s professor in the Teacher Preparation Program. “Jeffrey has a combination of a positive attitude and the belief that he can always improve that’s rare in a college student, but so essential to the learning process.”

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Cypress College is recognized as one of California’s top community colleges. Recent accolades include:

– #1 in the U.S. | Top Toyota T-TEN Auto-Tech Program in the Nation.

– #2 in C.A. | Top Two ESL & Basic Skills English Programs in California.

– #3 in C.A. | Ranked as a Top Three California Community College (Schools.com)

– #3 in the Region | Ranked Top Three in Greater Los Angeles & Orange County for Student Transfer and Graduation Rates (EdSmart.org)

– 15 of 113 | California Community Colleges piloting a Bachelor’s Degree (Mortuary Science)

– #17 in the U.S. | National Ranking on MTV-U’s website “Rate-My-Professor”

– Top National Licensure Exam Pass Rates | Perfect state licensure pass rates for students in the following programs: Dental Hygiene, Diagnostic Medical Sonography: Abdomen; Diagnostic Medical Sonography (OB/Gyn); Diagnostic Medical Sonography: Physics; and Mortuary Science: Sciences. 90+% state licensure exam pass rates for students in the following programs: Dental Assisting; Mortuary Science (Arts); Radiology Technology. And 85%+ state licensure rates for students in: Health Information Technology; Nursing; and Psychiatric Technology.

– 2/3ds of the Class of 2015 qualified for transfer to a UC or CSU institution.

– 76 Orange Empire Athletics Conference Titles

– 25 California Community College Athletic Association State Championship Titles

#CYProud: Mallory Roa (Artist Profile)

As part of our ongoing student profile series (#CYProud), we’re pleased to highlight the extraordinary work of Mallory Roa, a Cypress College Class of 2016 graduate who will continue her art and photography studies on full merit scholarship at the prestigious San Francisco Art Institute, School of Photography (founded by Ansel Adams and home to legends such as Annie Leibovitz, Lewis Baltz, and our very own Cypress College alumna Carly Cram).

Mallory is a brilliant talent – an artist in all respects. Her photos are vivid and real; not just beautiful images in and of themselves, but narratively compelling. In some sort of magical way, she is able to convey a sense of history and essence through imagery… a significance of place, past and person.

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Compelling narratives; frank exposures; implied complicity. 

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Original views of geometry, texture, light and skyscapes. 

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Visual tapestries; evocative captures of color and elements. 

Scrolling her beautiful Instagram feed, it’s clear that she puts much thought and time into composition and design, the use of color and shape, and the progression of images on a page. She has a great and rare instinct for both curating and creating.

We’re proud that she’ll continue to cultivate and showcase her artistry at one of the world’s very best institutes for creative talents.

Congratulations, Mallory, and best wishes!

#CypressCollege #Photography #Art

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Mallory Roa. Photo Credit: David Dugoncevic
Talented photographer-artist, Mallory Roa. Photo Credit: David Dugoncevic (who will also attend SFAI on merit scholarship)

Mallory Roa | Artist Statement:

I am a photographer from Southern California. I have also lived in Rome, Italy for a semester. Traveling has brought awareness into my life. I work primarily in the studio and extremely manipulated and controlled environments. I find comfort in control, predictability, and symmetry. My portraits are printed in large scale to aid in creating an intimate, intense, and overwhelming experience. The broad themes in my work are identity, intimacy, and socio-etc commentary. I am also interested in the body image, gender identity, sexuality, virginity, finality of death, introversion, depression and anxiety, HSP tendencies, aphasia, and interpersonal connections. I look forward to living in a place where I am free to pose questions like “How can I be a feminist if I am rejecting my gender?”

My practice is centered on interpersonal relationships and how we view, interact, and stereotype those around us. Social justice is a major theme in my work. “The Generations” are sets of portraits of generational gaps in a family’s lineage. It comments on the physical aspects we pass along and genetics, as well as formality and honor. “Smokin’ Lesbians” is a light-hearted project with a play on words focusing on a group of people who can feel extremely objectified in public. Inspired by Richard Avedon, “Private Moment. Public Space.” is a street portrait exploration of first impressions and the image I impose on a subject. One of my older works, ”Match The Couples” was a survey and study conducted in my local art program that asked survey-takers to blindly match portraits of people into coupled pairs. Given no information, the intent was to discover how prevalent heterosexism, a system of attitudes and biases in favor of the opposite-sex sexuality and relationships, is in a small part of our society. Conducted in the art department, I expect that the results are still generous at 17.9% of participants choosing two heterosexual and two homosexual couples.

I am drawn to artists that explore the human condition. I am drawn to someone oppressed by societal standards in Catherine Opie’s “Self-Portrait,” people designated different at birth in Martin Schoeller’s “Identical,” or those governed by life choices in Rineke Dijkstra’s “Mothers” and “Bull Fighters”. Richard Avedon’s “In the American West” and Diane Arbus’ practices have given me the appreciation of people, their diversity, and rituals of portraiture. Other influences stem from artist’s genuine and pure curiosity of the seemingly mundane, such as John Divola’s “As Far As I Could Get” and Bernd and Hilla Becher’s “Water Towers”.

We plan to profile Mallory’s extraordinary portfolio (and other standout student artists, alums and faculty) with a rolling video narrative come summer. Stay tuned.
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Cypress College is recognized as one of California’s top community colleges. Recent accolades include:

– #1 in the U.S. | Top Toyota T-TEN Auto-Tech Program in the Nation.

– #2 in C.A. | Top Two ESL & Basic Skills English Programs in California.

– #3 in C.A. | Ranked as a Top Three California Community College (Schools.com)

– #3 in the Region | Ranked Top Three in Greater Los Angeles & Orange County for Student Transfer and Graduation Rates (EdSmart.org)

– 15 of 113 | California Community Colleges piloting a Bachelor’s Degree (Mortuary Science)

– #17 in the U.S. | National Ranking on MTV-U’s website “Rate-My-Professor”

– Top National Licensure Exam Pass Rates | Perfect state licensure pass rates for students in the following programs: Dental Hygiene, Diagnostic Medical Sonography: Abdomen; Diagnostic Medical Sonography (OB/Gyn); Diagnostic Medical Sonography: Physics; and Mortuary Science: Sciences. 90+% state licensure exam pass rates for students in the following programs: Dental Assisting; Mortuary Science (Arts); Radiology Technology. And85%+ state licensure rates for students in: Health Information Technology; Nursing; and Psychiatric Technology.

– 2/3ds of the Class of 2015 qualified for transfer to a UC or CSU institution.

– 76 Orange Empire Athletics Conference Titles

– 25 California Community College Athletic Association State Championship Titles

 

#CYProud: Mike Alcoran (Artist Profile)

Mike Alcoran
Mike Alcoran, Cypress College Class of 2016, Cal State University, Fullerton transfer.

As part of our ongoing student profile series, we are pleased to highlight Class of 2016 graduate Mike Alcoran, a prolific, award-winning filmmaker, photographer, and graphic artist, who will continue his digital cinema studies at Cal State University, Fullerton in the fall.

Mike is a tremendous talent. Through his art, he is able to make even the simplest of subjects wondrous. His signature style is infused with a flair and technique that brings surprising sensibility – beauty and intimacy – to the ordinary. Working primarily with a handheld camera, he details elements, people and places in their natural, often overlooked states. His films, mostly mood documentaries and travel logs, are beautiful, imaginative captures of the world in which we live. It’s a pleasure to view life through his perceptive lens.

A native of our local community (Cypress/Buena Park), Alcoran comes from a family of artistic talent – both his brother and cousins are skilled in the graphic arts and have a love of architecture. Mike began to explore his interest in design and photography as a student at John F. Kennedy High School. After graduation, the proximity and affordability of Cypress made college a possibility for him. Under the mentorship of several professors here at Cypress, Mike fine-tuned his natural gifts and found his true calling: film. He singles out Ian Holmes for help in the development of his craft, and Ed Giardiana for artistic inspiration and transfer direction.

In his relatively short span of cinema production, Mike has produced an impressive body of quality work. He has been a videographer for LA area hip-hop artist Transcendent, for Cypress College (beautifully covering two Student Art Exhibitions – 2013 & 2014, STEM, and other areas), and has done a number of short films for local businesses. Exploring his primary interests, he has completed several travel documentaries, including Through the Rocky Southwest (shown at the Cypress College film festival this year), Through the Pacific Northwest, and Oceanside Dreams. His first narrative feature, Strawberry Lemonade (an experimental horror film) premiered at the Emerging Artist Society’s First Annual Film Festival at Cal State Fullerton

Talent aside, Mike is just a really nice guy. Humble. It took a bit of Internet searching to uncover that he is extremely well prized, not only in film but in several other artistic areas as well. His photograph Five More Minutes, Please won a national award from the Canon Imagination Project, and several others have been picked up by Getty Images.

Five More Minutes, Please:

Five More Minutes, Please.

Through the Rocky Southwest

At some point in the future, after finishing at Cal State Fullerton, he plans to venture into the world of narrative filmmaking. Long-term, he aspires to join one of the major film studios like Disney or Dreamworks.

For more from one of our very favorite students, check out Mike’s talent via his website, Twitter , Instagram, and Vimeo page.

Congratulations, Mike, on all your success! We look forward to seeing more of your talent in years to come.

#CypressCollege #DigitalCinema #Photography #Arts

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Cypress College is recognized as one of California’s top community colleges. Recent accolades include:

– #1 in the U.S. | Top Toyota T-TEN Auto-Tech Program in the Nation.

– #2 in C.A. | Top Two ESL & Basic Skills English Programs in California.

– #3 in C.A. | Ranked as a Top Three California Community College (Schools.com)

– #3 in the Region | Ranked Top Three in Greater Los Angeles & Orange County for Student Transfer and Graduation Rates (EdSmart.org)

– 15 of 113 | California Community Colleges piloting a Bachelor’s Degree (Mortuary Science)

– #17 in the U.S. | National Ranking on MTV-U’s website “Rate-My-Professor”

– Top National Licensure Exam Pass Rates | Perfect state licensure pass rates for students in the following programs: Dental Hygiene, Diagnostic Medical Sonography: Abdomen; Diagnostic Medical Sonography (OB/Gyn); Diagnostic Medical Sonography: Physics; and Mortuary Science: Sciences. 90+% state licensure exam pass rates for students in the following programs: Dental Assisting; Mortuary Science (Arts); Radiology Technology. And85%+ state licensure rates for students in: Health Information Technology; Nursing; and Psychiatric Technology.

– 2/3ds of the Class of 2015 qualified for transfer to a UC or CSU institution.

– 76 Orange Empire Athletics Conference Titles

– 25 California Community College Athletic Association State Championship Titles

 

#CY: Tiana Buttice

See Why We’re Proud….

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Meet Tiana – Ask anyone on campus and they’ll agree – they’ve never seen a student like Tiana Buttice. In her five years at Cypress, Tiana has blossomed from a markedly reserved individual into an extraordinary student leader, both on campus and off. She currently represents the student body on the North Orange County Community College District’s Board of Trustees. There could be no individual better equipped than she to be in that seat. Tiana cares deeply about the community college system and has a remarkable grasp on issues related to organizational governance, leadership and state legislation. This fall, Tiana will be at an institution fit to develop her policy interests – UC Berkeley. At Cal she plans to study Political Economy.

Origin / Why Cypress – “I live with my grandmother, who is my legal guardian, and my younger brother in Anaheim. I went to Savanna High School, but didn’t graduate from there. I took the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE) so that I could receive a certificate that would allow me to attend a community college. I knew early that high school was a waste of time after hearing that many people took the same courses over again once arriving at a community college. Plus, I just didn’t enjoy high school, and I didn’t have the grades or the required courses to transfer into a four-year university. So I skipped my senior year at Savanna and came to Cypress. I chose Cypress over Fullerton College, which was the typical transfer community college for my high school, because I wanted the opportunity to start over. I didn’t have a path when I started, but I had to go to school because I didn’t have many other options. My grandmother was not going to allow me to stay in her house without being in school. I had always intended to pick myself up somehow…”

@Cypress – “I’ve done so many things at Cypress… It all started with the Astronomy Club. I am a former Astronomy Club president. I’ve held multiple positions within the Cypress College Associated Students (Senator, Vice President of External Affairs, and now Student Trustee). I’ve also done work-study with Scott Pickler, our Cypress College baseball coach. And, currently, I work in the Mathematics Learning Center as a math tutor where I am able to help students.

It’s been a really long journey for me. I’ve taken a very wide variety of courses, and changed my major twice. There have been many people at Cypress who have helped me get where I am today: Michael Frey, Professor of Astronomy and Physics; Penny Gabourie and Katherine Sonne from the Honors Program; Dave Okawa, the Advisor to the Associated Students; Becky Rojas; my peers in AS.; Ryan Billings… and each and every one of my professors who believed in me.”

Most Proud of … “I am most proud of the work that I have been able to do for others. My experiences as a statewide student advocate have been the most rewarding. Never let anyone or anything hold you back from achieving your dreams. Believe in your abilities and work hard to get when you want. There are people who will love you and support you in whatever it is that you want to do, you just have to put yourself out there.

Advice to Students – “Be proud of your community college education and make the most of it. Take the time you need now to figure out exactly what it is that you want to do, and utilize the resources here. Get involved with campus programs and student groups. You never know what’s going to truly inspire you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Cypress College Faculty, Staff, and Administration truly are here to help guide you and they want the best for you. Give your input to the college. Participate! Do your best and don’t forget how much you’re capable of and that you have the opportunity to give yourself the life that you want to have.”

Long-Term Vision – “I will be transferring to UCBerkeley and I hope to not only graduate with my Bachelor’s degree, but to also experience a new side of life. This is an opportunity I’ve never had before. I’m excited to live away from home and explore wholeheartedly. I now have the opportunity to truly learn a lot about myself. I hope to continue my career within education. My experiences have given me a passion that I will never forget. I value my community college education for what it has given me in my life and I aim to give that experience back to students every day: whether it be through teaching, policy shaping, counseling, etc. I somehow want to work to give opportunity to the students of my community and to students everywhere. Ultimately, I want to help others – especially marginalized groups.”

Congratulations, Tiana!! We will miss you at the College. We wish you the very best at Cal: http://www.berkeley.edu

#CypressCollege #CYProud

#CY: Eleese Williams

See Why We’re Proud….

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Meet Eleese – Eleese Williams’ essence is resilience. She’s smart, beautiful and extraordinarily positive – a striking combination in and of itself, but all the more so in her case. From birth, she’s struggled with a potentially life threatening condition – sickle cell anemia. Sickle cell disease is a group of disorders that cause red blood cells to “sickle” or become misshapen and break down, which painfully impacts blood flow to limbs and organs. In her years at Cypress, Eleese has learned how to manage her illness. She’s done so while raising her three-year-old son and redefining her academic path. Her story is striking, and she inspirational. Eleese will graduate tomorrow as a Liberal Arts Transfer major, with a concentration in Social and Behavioral Sciences. She has been accepted into three Cal States, but has decided to stay close to home. She will attend Cal State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) in the fall.

Origin Story – At surface-level it’s hard to believe that Eleese – vibrant as she is –  has suffered so much physical hardship in her 22-years. She looks the picture of health. And she is healthy, she attests… at least now. “It’s been a long road to get to this point. I’ve had to learn to take care of myself, especially for my son. There have been some very hard times… periods when I’ve had to take weeks off school. My first flare-up happened when I was six-months old. I was helicoptered to Long Beach Memorial. I was always in the hospital growing-up. And that had a big academic toll. Until recently, life had a stop-and-go rhythm; two steps forward, one back.”

Eleese started at Cypress in 2010, intent on majoring in accounting: “That was a really rough year. I had my son and was totally unhappy at school. I was taking accounting classes to please my dad, but they were such a drag. I just wasn’t doing well. Then one day, someone in EOPS asked me why I was taking those classes. ‘Take something you’re interested in,’ I was advised. So I did… and my health and life changed pretty quickly. Following what actually interests me has made everything fall into place.” Her transcript now positively reflects her choice – she regularly makes A and B grades and is on the President’s Honors List. Her son is proud of her, “Mommy’s congratulating!” he says. “Graduating,” she corrects. “Mom, can I do homework? Why don’t you ask me about my day at preschool?”

Finally free from undue academic stress, Eleese’s health has improved dramatically. She hasn’t had a flare-up in two-plus years, which has allowed her to be fully there for her son as she always wished. “It was so hard when I was away from him. At times I’d be stuck in the hospital for weeks, and then I’d be stuck at home in bed on pain meds. There was a point when my son pushed me in a wheelchair. I knew then that I just had to change something. I realized that my health is his health.” In addition to a new academic direction, Eleese also made important lifestyle changes. “I drink 3-4 Liters of water a day and always have a heavy jacket with me. I’ve learned how to keep my blood flowing. I’ve also learned how to manage my time more effectively. I take care of all my medical appointments before the start of the semester, for example.”

Why Cypress – Eleese is from Lakewood. She decided to come to Cypress for a change, to get away from the home colleges closer to her high school. What attracted her most to the campus was the diversity. “There’s so much diversity here. It’s reflected everywhere – in the students, faculty, staff… it makes the campus vibrant.”

@Cypress – Eleese was a student leader and program ambassador for Cypress College’s Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS). “The program is incredible. I always encourage everyone to get involved if they qualify. Use the resources that are on campus! In EOPS you’ll find so much support to help you succeed – from guidance with financial aid, to registration, academic counseling and lots more. It’s totally comprehensive.” While studying full-time, Eleese also worked 20/hours a week for the program, and was involved with Disability Support Services (DSS) on-campus.

Advice to Future Students – “You’re not alone! There are so many resources here. Take advantage of them! It’ll make your time here so much easier. Also, start at a community college instead of going to a four-year. Cypress gives you a great understanding of the college system without so much financial risk.”

Long-Term Vision – Eleese is transferring to Cal State University, Dominguez Hills and plans to pursue a career in criminal justice and private investigation.

Congratulations, Eleese!! And best of luck at Cal State Dominguez Hills: http://www.csudh.edu/

#CypressCollege #CYProud

#CY: Jonathan Le

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Meet Jonathan – Jonathan Le carries himself with an air of elegance and professionalism fitting of a future physician. A Biochemistry major, Jonathan is an Anaheim native and graduate of Savannah High. Before enrolling at Cypress College, he did a Vocational Nursing Program through the North Orange County Community College District’s School of Continuing Education. He had always had an interest in the medical field and thought he wanted to pursue nursing. Post program, he decided he would be a doctor. He enrolled at Cypress in spring 2013 with that intention in mind. He excelled academically here at the College and received offers of admission to every top-tier UC. His final decision was between Cal and UCLA. After visiting UCLA’s Welcome Day for Admitted Transfer Students, his choice was made. In the fall he’ll be a Junior BioChem Bruin.

Off-Campus – Jonathan excelled in his studies at Cypress. He also distinguished himself off-campus in truly remarkable ways. As a student he has worked at a UC Irvine research lab with a team that is pioneering genome sequencing and stem cell applications for hair growth. The team’s research findings are currently under peer review for publication in one of the world’s most-cited and comprehensive multidisciplinary scientific journals: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Jonathan is the fourth listed co-author on the publication. Incredible! Though he’ll attend UCLA in the fall, he plans to also continue with his research at UCI.

@Cypress – “Dr. Adel Rajab and Dr. Fumio Ogoshi of the Cypress College Bio Department were really helpful. They gave me guidance with class choices and checked up on my progress. Their lab classes were also really interesting. We got to work with DNA and use advanced techniques to see how modern theories translate to protein identification. It’s interesting to see the actual application value of what we’re learning in the lab.”

Why Cypress – “The campus is much nicer than Fullerton!”

Advice – “Get ahead in your classes. Get the books in advance. I would always read the first couple chapters of all my course texts to get an idea of what I’d be in for. It’s easy to fall behind when classes start so get a jump-start to keep on-top of things throughout the semester.”

Long-Term Vision – After getting his Bachelor’s of Science in Biochemistry from UCLA, Jonathan is planning for medical school. He’d like to obtain his M.D. specialty in Cardiology / Cardiovascular Disease, and Interventional Cardiology.

Congratulations, Jonathan!! We wish you the very best at UCLA: http://www.ucla.edu/

#CypressCollege #CYProud

#CY: Alexandra San Pablo

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Meet Alexandra – Alexandra has a dream story. She’s an extremely bright D.R.E.A.M student bound for UC Berkeley. The California Dream Act (an acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) has opened higher education opportunities to those like Alexandra who came here as children, are long-term residents, have good moral character and have graduated from a U.S. high school. Born in the Philippines, Alexandra migrated with her mother and two sisters from Manila to Norwalk when she was 11 years old. Despite excelling academically, her post-secondary opportunities were limited. It was difficult, she says, to watch friends from Whitney High continue their studies in prestigious schools and not be able to do the same. Community college was her only chance forward, but because of financial constraints the pace appeared impossibly slow. She couldn’t afford more than one class a semester for five semesters. That all changed in July of 2013 when California passed its own version of the DREAM Act. In the fall she was finally able to apply for financial aid and enroll at Cypress as a full-time student. With a clear path ahead – sights set on transfer, she was on her way at last.

@Cypress, STEM2 – Alexandra grew-up with a penchant for science. In her senior year of high school she was one of a select number of students invited to participate in summer research at UCLA. While there, she got her first applied taste of civil engineering and loved it. Her summer of research fueled her academic interests in geotechnical studies and the relationship between soil strength and infrastructure stability. At Cypress, she joined the STEM2 program. She has been a regular at conferences and networking events and has been an inspirational speaker on several program panels. Via STEM2 partnerships she has enhanced her research background with regular work at Cal State Fullerton. Her most recent area of investigation has been paleoclimatology with a focus on ancient earthquakes and tsunamis. She is grateful for the STEM2 program – the workshops, transfer counseling, and research opportunities – as well as the program staff and extraordinary faculty (shout-out to Dr. Armale and Professor Plett) for their mentorship. In addition to her studies, research, and STEM2 program participation, Alexandra was a lab grader in physics.

Best Experience – “My best experience at Cypress was being able to go on the annual northern trip held by the (STEM)^2 program. I wouldn’t have been able to visit the schools up north, such as Davis and Berkeley. I was able to make friends during that trip and explore different campuses that I wouldn’t have expected to apply to, which made the trip worthwhile.”

Advice to Future Students – “Have a path and have a timeline. I created an Excel that showed the classes I needed to transfer and helped keep me on-track. I also had a corkboard that I flagged with my progress. Stay motivated – getting involved in a program is a big help. And speak to your professors. They can help you network, get research gigs, and have solid letters of recommendation. Attend their office hours – that’s key. The STEM staff are also great help.”

Long-Term Vision – Alexandra was accepted into all of her transfer choices, but the final decision was between UCLA and Berkeley. She decided on Cal after looking into faculty research interests – UC Berkeley is a world leader in geotechnical civil engineering.

Congratulations, Alexandra!! And best of luck at UC Berkeley: http://www.berkeley.edu/

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#CY: Stephanie Garcia

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Meet Stephanie – Stephanie Garcia is conflicted in the very best of ways – she got into all her transfer universities of choice but can’t decide which to attend. The University of California, Davis (UC Davis) has long been her dream school, but Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) has a strong reputation in her area of interest – social work. A Liberal Arts Major at Cypress, Stephanie was heavily involved in the PUENTE program as both a student leader and graduate mentor. She credits PUENTE as having “changed [her] life.”

@Cypress – PUENTE – “Puente became my home from the start. I joined the program hoping to obtain some guidance through college. I was blessed to find that and so much more. The Puente Program professors, Dr. Ponce and Mr. Silva were amazing mentors. Mr. Silva, my ‘Captain,’ is the strongest, most admirable person I know. The two together invoked in me an immense desire to flourish in my studies. More importantly, they taught me to reach for the seemingly unattainable. I believe that much of my success is due to them. Without the program’s connections to prestigious universities and professionals, my student experience would have been pretty ordinary… but it wasn’t. It was extraordinary. As an underrepresented minority, this program has opened many doors for me. It will allow me to connect with fellow Latinos on a greater scale, and someday be better positioned to represent their interests.”

Origin – “I am most proud of being the first in my family to graduate college. I endured many obstacles over these past two years. The challenges I’ve faced have made me value education in a new way. As the eldest of three siblings, I had no college guidance and missed out on my first semester as a result. I felt discouraged and hopeless when I started, but I had faith that my path would cross with someone who would help guide me in my journey. My faith held true. Flash-forward two years to today and I’ll soon be a graduate Liberal Arts Transfer Major with an emphasis in Social and Behavioral Studies. I’m astonished to have discovered such potential to succeed within myself. My success here motivates me to continue being successful in the future.”

Why Cypress – Stephanie graduated from Magnolia High in Anaheim. She chose Cypress College over Fullerton for a change, to get a fresh start on a new chapter of her academic life.

Best Memory – “Without a doubt, my best memory at Cypress College is the night of my Puente program graduation. I overcame my fear of public speaking that evening. I was able to address to a large crowd of people in a speech that acknowledged my parents, peers, and professors for their unconditional support throughout my first year at Cypress. I realized that most others in the room shared my struggles. That experience reinforced my desire to represent the Latino community.”

Advice to Future Students – “Get involved. Be a part of something meaningful.”

Long-Term Vision – “Gandhi once said, ‘Be the change you wish to see in this world.’ I aim to do just that. Coming from a family of domestic violence, verbal abuse, and poverty, I envision myself addressing the needs of my community by helping them overcome social adversities. While my dream is to become a Licensed Social Worker, I hope to provide guidance and help to others who find themselves in similar situations. My primary interest is to work with women and children who have endured physical abuse. In the long run, I’d love to be part of a women’s campaign, empowering those who are oppressed.”

Congratulations, Stephanie!! And best of luck at either UC Davis or CSULB – whichever you choose! http://ucdavis.edu/ AND  https://www.csulb.edu/

#CypressCollege #CYProud

 

#CY: Valeria Gonzalez

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Meet Valeria – Valeria Gonzalez is wise beyond her years. She knows what she likes, what she wants, where she’s headed and how to have fun in the day-to-day. Now that’s unique. An Electrical Engineering major from Paramount, California, Valeria will be the first in her family to head to university. Come fall, she will attend Cal State Fullerton to specialize in biomedical engineering. Valeria is a smart cookie. She understands the power of connectivity: “It’s not all about the books. It’s about doing what you like, in a place where things are happening in your field and with people that inspire you.” That’s why she chose to attend CSUF amidst several top-tier options. “It feels like the best choice since I got to do summer research there on two occasions through our STEM2 program. My most recent project involved working with Brain Computer Interface (BCI) technology – utilizing a headset controlled robotic arm. I’m now linked to many students and faculty in my area of interest at CSUF. I’ll be able to continue my specific research projects and keep in touch with friends and mentors I made along the way there.”

Why Cypress – Valeria chose Cypress College to mix things-up after high school; to get a little outside her hometown circle of familiarity. She knew she wanted to transfer to a four-year institution and understood the financial savings and educational value of a community college. She also knew what she wanted to study. In high school she had an “awesome” physics teacher who served as her gateway to the engineering field.

@Cypress STEM– At her new student assessment, Valeria glimpsed a STEM2 program poster in the Transfer Center and knew she would join. She got involved from day one, taking advantage of each and every program opportunity that she could – she attended and participated in panels, was a regular at conferences, was involved in biodiesel fuel research at Cal State Fullerton, and was a Supplemental Mechanical Physics Instruction Leader for four semesters. Her internships were particularly transformative: “It was amazing to be part of real working initiatives. I got to meet people who are ambitious and creative, which made me think about different ideas and connections between fields.” Also, the many conferences she attended opened new doors of possibility. Her interest in neuroengineering sparked after attending an annual conference hosted by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. “I heard a talk on robotic engineering and the integration of robotic technology in our lives, as well as some discussion of aerospace applications. That clicked with me. I thought, ‘Hey, that’s what I want to do!’ And I never even knew it existed. Those conferences were so valuable.” So valuable in fact they helped link her to yet another exciting research project… this summer she’ll join a small biomedical tech team at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).

Advice to Future Students – “Focus on your strengths and go after the subject matter that really interests you. Don’t worry about making a grade, worry about understanding your field in-depth. The grade will follow. Life isn’t linear; don’t try to set it up to be. Have fun and don’t stress so much – you’ll get more out of your experience here and set yourself up for success down the line. Meet people – that’s pretty important. Just have fun with it.”

Long-Term Vision – Valeria will attend Cal State Fullerton this fall. She plans to pursue graduate studies in bioengineering and would like to eventually start her own company.

Congratulations, Valeria!! And best of luck at CSUF: http://www.fullerton.edu/

#CypressCollege #CYProud