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