Transfer counselor propels students

By Wanda Gonzalez, Advocate Staff

Transfer counselor Andrea Phillips has had an immensely positive impact on first generation college students at Contra Costa College for years.

From organizing college readiness events on campus, to creating personalized educational plans for students, Phillips has done it all in an effort to help students transfer to four-year institutions.

Every second Tuesday in October, Phillips hosts a transfer day on campus in which 50 college representatives come out and students are able to table.

In addition, for the last three years, she’s hosted the historically black college caravan. The caravan is similar to transfer day, however, historically black colleges come out so students can get information from colleges that offer more than just an education.

“Two of the years that we did that, we brought in West Contra Costa Unified School students to participate in that historically black college caravan. Many of their students received on-the-spot scholarships, some received on-the-spot admissions,” Phillips said.

Not only has she been helping Contra Costa College students, but she’s even opened doors for high school students in the district.

“Get On The Bus” is another great project the counselor started. It gives students the opportunity to visit local colleges such as Sacramento State, San Jose State, Stanford, Cal-State East Bay, San Francisco State, Sonoma State, UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, and Saint Mary’s University.

Phillips was then able to start the “Get On The Plane” HBCU Spring break tour with the help of our former Dean of student services, Vicky Ferguson.

“Get on the plane is impacting all kinds of students with the opportunity to see something outside of Richmond and to really explore and see what kinds of educational opportunities and journeys that they can take outside a 15-mile radius.” she said.

Phillips is originally from Southern California, but she moved to the Bay Area in 1986.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley, then got her master’s degree in Social Science at Stanford.

In 1993, she began working at Skyline high school as a teacher.

From 1994 to 1999, she was a History teacher at James Logan High School in Union City.

Phillips then went back to school and earned her master’s degree in counseling psychology, so she could become a high school counselor.

She started working part-time at Chabot College in 2000, doing orientation and assessment, then eventually worked her way up to general counseling.

In 2003, she got a part-time position at the City College of San Francisco working with the African American Scholastic Program, high school dropout program and noncredit students before beginning to work part-time at Contra Costa College in counseling and African American studies in 2005.

Career and transfer center program assistant Marina Melara said, “Andrea (Phillips) does more than counseling with students and actually builds relationships with them.”

It’s more than just a job for Ms. Phillips, she truly cares about her students’ success she said.

Phillips also did athletic counseling, EOPS counseling, general counseling, but in 2010 she began focusing more on transfer counseling.

In 2012, she was hired full-time and her main focus since then has been transfer services.

“I see students individually to help them plan out their transfer process,” she said.

“I do all the college transfer-related workshops, UCPIQs, application workshops, scholarship assistance. I coordinate and bring four-year reps here on campus so students can meet with them individually.”

Phillips has dedicated 15 years of her life to helping Contra Costa College students reach their educational goals.

Natasha De Almeida, career development services coordinator said, “Andrea (Phillips) cares about the students, their experiences and always makes sure they get the help that they need.”

“We have a great team here in the transfer and career center with Marina and Natasha” said Ms. Phillips, “During transfer time season, they have really supported the work that we do and embrace the work as well, so it’s been a great starting of a legacy”