Additions intended to guide students towards four-year universities, jobs, careers.
Cerro Coso Eastern Sierra College Center Director Deanna Campbell extolled the virtues of seven new course offerings at the June 17 Mammoth Unified School District (MUSD)/Town of Mammoth Liaison meeting in the MUSD Conference Room.
The seven new programs launched this year in Mammoth and Bishop include POST Peace Officer Academy, Kinesiology, Studio Arts, Science Major, and Psychology Transfer Degrees, Clinical Medical Assistant Certificate, and Home Health Aide Certificate, a three-week clinical course to become a home health aide.
Campbell stressed that the addition of these courses is intended to guide Cerro Coso students toward four year universities, jobs, and careers. Enrollment at Mammoth’s Cerro Coso has remained steady, and Campbell said the College’s goal is not to recruit more students, but to ensure students complete their chosen course of study.
Given this strategy, “We’ve seen graduation numbers basically quintupling over the past several years,” Campbell said.
One of the new programs is tailored specifically to provide Mammoth Hospital with much-needed clinical medical assistants. “The Hospital approached us and said, can you do the program?” Campbell recalled. She offered the Clinical Medical Assistant Certificate program, which takes two to three semesters, as a perfect example of a course that will guide students straight into the job field.
MUSD Superintendent Lois Klein added that Mammoth High School (MHS) students are increasingly seeing Cerro Coso as a tool to further their education and careers. Campbell reported that 65 MHS students are currently enrolled in online classes this summer to earn college credit, and that 24 of the 60 graduating MHS seniors are going to Cerro Coso on scholarship. Klein praised the benefit of the Inyo-Mono Promise, the full scholarship offered to students fully enrolled in Cerro Coso, which also facilitates students’ transfer from Cerro Coso to the University of Nevada, Reno at a discounted tuition rate.
Meanwhile new course offerings, particularly higher level math and science courses, can now ease a transfer from Cerro Coso to the UC’s.
“Families are starting to understand that this is a very viable option,” Campbell said.
Campbell credited the collaboration between Cerro Coso and MUSD for the College’s success in guiding students to the College, and from there to university and career paths.
“Cerro Coso and MUSD collaborate on every level from strategic direction at the superintendent and principal level, to daily coordination regarding coursework at the faculty, teacher level,” she said. Campbell credited this collaboration with helping students plan for college and a career post-high school, as well as adding classes and courses requested by students to Cerro Coso’s list of offerings.
“It’s been a really exciting year,” she said. “We’ve had so much collaboration, and I think it’s really expanded the opportunities for students.”
However, MUSD Board President John Stavlo had some sobering words to offer on the subject of educational opportunities. He alluded to Council candidate criticism of education in Mammoth during the Council election season last month. Some candidates, according to Stavlo, had argued that the Town could only attract more families with better education.
“I think we’re doing ourselves a real disservice if we’re not going out and educating the public that this is not true,” he said. “We need to get the word out there, what is coming out of this District.”
Stavlo noted that several of this year’s MHS graduates are going to respected universities, such as UCLA and Yale.
Campbell agreed that the College needs to do a better job educating the community about its programs. “I hear from employers all the time that they have trouble recruiting people, because the belief is that we don’t have a good education system,” she said.
Campbell suggested a partnership with the Town to advertise graduation data; “I think that message alone is powerful,” she said. Moreover, half of the MHS graduates attending Cerro Coso this fall are Hispanic, and “most have a four-year transfer plan; they’re not going to Cerro Coso as the end.
“Again, perception is the issue … I think it’s important for families to understand that students going to Cerro Coso first and transferring, they’re still going to be able to go to Yale … and come out of college with a degree, and no debt.”