Program aims for student need, success

By Dan Hardin, Staff Writer

Under the leadership of Chancellor Fred Wood, faculty and staff were assembled to take the fundamental components of Assembly Bill 19 and adapt them to fit the unique and individual needs of the Contra Costa Community College District.

AB19, California College Promise, is a one-year-old state law that Governor Jerry Brown signed into law in October 2017 that allocated $1.3 million in funding to the district.

The swift drafting and implementation of the program would guarantee funding for the 2018-19 school year.

One of the programs implemented at Contra Costa College in compliance with the statewide initiative is the Contra Costa College Promise Scholars Program.

CCC Counselor Kelly D. Cadungug said while the Promise Scholars Program may sound similar to existing programs like the Board of Governors Fee Waiver or the First-Time, Full-Time, Free Tuition program, it isn’t.

He said those programs are about money in the form of tuition, scholarships and financial aid.

Dr. Cadungug said the Promise Scholars Program has nothing to do with money and instead emphasizes retention and creating an atmosphere and associations that will help students finish college.

Student success adviser Erika Quinteros said the Promise Scholars Program provides incoming full-time students with a wide range of support resources that include referrals to other parts of the program to receive funding for one year of academic support.

It also offers dedicated counseling, career and professional development services.

Students will receive access to other programs and learning communities such as EOPS, Puente Project, Per Ankh Academy, Adelante STEM and UC programs.

Quinteros said, “For example, the counseling course (Counseling 120 — Managing College Success and Life Transitions) is to help them navigate through their first year. But in addition, it is an easier course to take. I tell them this is like your ‘fluff course’ that will allow them to focus more on English and math.”

To be eligible for the program students must be graduates of a West Contra Costa County high school. They must also be a first-time full-time freshman, enroll in a minimum of 12 units per academic semester, complete an educational plan and coaching sessions, counseling appointments and student success programming.

Students must complete each semester with a GPA of 2.5 or higher.

First-year nursing student Malinai Mercado said she learned about the program when she was a student at El Cerrito High School. Promise Scholars Program representatives visited the school to inform them about how they help students and explain the eligibility requirements.

“I really appreciated the interaction they had with us because it kept me from going at it alone,” Mercado said.

During her first several weeks at the college, Mercado said her experience with faculty and students has been pleasant.

First-year nursing student Jakai Kiel said, “If I had to navigate the system alone, I would have found it to be overwhelming.”