Although some of you may already be aware, others may not yet know about our Campus Conexiones events.  Born from the LatinX Alliance, Campus Conexiones highlights various LatinX staff and faculty each month in AVANZA in order to build connections between them and our students at Mesa.  Eager to close the Latino educational achievement gap, these events allow students and staff/faculty to get to know each other and create a network of support and encouragement.  See more about their objectives here:

We have a whole new line up for the spring 2018 semester.  So mark your calendars and save the dates.  We are kicking the semester off on February 21, 2018 from 11:30-12:30, and we are featuring two fabulous speakers.  Both of these amazing women work with STEM Conexiones, the Title III HSI Grant.

First we have Lauren Arriola-Sanchez,Campus Conexiones 02-21-2018 our Project Assistant: English/Spanish Translator, who has been translating flyers, DACA messages from our Chancellor and President, webpages, and more.  Lauren will be able to share how she has overcome numerous obstacles throughout her life to continue in her path to success.  Come and be inspired by her dedication and resilience.

Next, we have Sara Ramirez, our Project Assistant: Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) Publicist, who credits her parents for her strength to persevere.  Self-identified as Latina, Sara will share about how she has been able to embrace both cultures (Mexican and American) and excel in her path to success.  Stop by and be encouraged by this first generation student committed to excellence.

Join us on Wednesday the 21st to get to know these amazing women better.  They are excited to connect with students and be a source of support and encouragement.

Save the dates for our future Campus Conexiones events as well:

Yolanda Catano, Tuesday, March 13th, 12-1 pm

Juan Bernal, Wednesday, April 4th, 2:30-3:30 pm


CT Climbs to the Top

Hy-hike to the topAll of us, working with Proyecto Éxito, love to see and experience the success of our students.  It is a true gift to observe as each student grows into their own, gaining self-confidence as they develop their skills and succeed in their endeavors.  One particular such experience really stood out for us in the fall semester, and we really wanted to highlight it here in our Blog.

Hy Truong started out as a Peer Navigator for our CRUISE program in the summer of 2016.  In the spring of 2017, he expanded his work with us to include becoming a classroom tutor for Math 116; transferring to Accounting 116A in the fall.  The classroom tutoring (CT) program actually places a tutor within the classroom, to be in the lecture with the class.  After the class,Hy-reaching the CT will then facilitate a tutoring session based on the classroom lecture and invite students for further practice and discussion to ensure their success in the course.  CT’s will also take the time to answer additional questions and give more examples to assist students in their comprehension of the material being covered in the classroom.

Since beginning with our programs, we have witnessed this quiet young man find his voice and excel in every task he has taken on.  We were honored in the beginning of the fall 2017 semester to have him come to our office and share about an assignment he was struggling to accomplish.  He admitted to us that he had trouble talking about himself, and that this assignment required him to do just that.

Surprised at his admission, we expressed to him the amazing things we had seen him accomplish over the semesters with us, and pointed out the differences he has made in many lives with his strength of Hy-mountaincharacter.  We reminded him of different events we had attended together and how we had witnessed him interacting with other students and peers.  After discussing the assignment more thoroughly with us, Hy left our office deep in thought.

It was several weeks later that Hy returned to our office with huge smile on his face to share with us his finished assignment.  Overjoyed with our excitement, we wanted to share it with everyone.  Not only did we see his character shining through his pamphlet, we saw it as a source of encouragement for other students.  We believe that his message, as well as his resilience, can be of inspiration to many other students and faculty, and we just wanted to thank him for being a part of our team.

See his complete pamphlet here:  Hy-Flyer



English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

ESOL-Jaime Bio PicJaime Lenke has been teaching ESOL in the SDCCD district at Miramar College and San Diego Mesa College since 2012.  He is a member of our HSI Title V Grant, Proyecto Éxito team, primarily working as a co-coordinator of our course re-design team for ESOL curriculum.  In addition to course re-design, Jaime has been working on improving the ESOL assessment and placement process, creating an ESOL Newsletter:


as well as working on establishing pathways between San Diego Mesa College’s ESOL program and Continuing Education’s ESL programs.  Future projects include working with the College Connections Team to continue to create guided pathways for Basic Skills and ESOL students.

Tracey Walker has been teaching at Mesa College for the last 15 years.  She has also held positions at Miramar, Southwestern, and Grossmont Community Colleges.  She is a member of our HSI Title V Grant, Proyecto Éxito team, primarily working as a co-coordinator of our course re-design team for ESOL curriculum.  Other positions Tracey has engaged in, include:  Honors Co-Coordinator; Writing Center Co-Coordinator; Basic Skills Initiative Coordinator; and ESOL Chair.

Tracey has been piloting activities for new integrated reading/writing courses; has been instrumental in streamlining ESOL pathway and electives; and is participating in Acceleration Innovators at Mesa (AIM).  This year’s cohort is comprised of English and English Language Acquisition (ELAC) faculty as well as Graduate Tutors.  They are focusing on accelerated principles and pedagogy in an effort to close the equity gap through sharing of best practices.  These workshops allow for a great deal of dialogue and crossover between English and ELAC faculty; this is necessary because the ELAC program and curricular redesign focuses on backwards design: integrated reading and writing, and feeds into 47A or LComm 101.  This allows for greater success in the transition from non-native to native speaking courses. (The current program doesn’t do this, as it separates reading and writing; creating a great loss of many students in the transition from ESOL to ENGL.  The hope is to increase the number of students who transition from the non-native to native speaker track in reaching success.)  Some specific topics covered this semester include theme-based lessons, relevant materials, low stakes reading and writing assignments, and how to address grammar in context.  The collaboration between the two cohorts will create a more seamless pathway for students.

Together and within their department, Jaime and Tracey have reshaped the way we look at ESOL courses and teaching approaches.  Last semester they conducted focus groups with ESOL students to assess which parts of current ESOL practices were most beneficial for the students.  With the student feedback they have continued to collaborate on best practices in order to further their professional development.  Additionally, with the help of the Testing Center, the Combined English Language Skills Assessment (CELSA) for ESOL students has been computerized which will be a huge asset to assist students with their placements.  Both of these ESOL Course Designers have been working on the development of a Summer Learning Institute for English Language Acquisition professional development.  We are all excited to see all that is still to come.

Campus Conexiones Fall 2017

Welcome to a new semester with new stories to reflect on the successes that have paved the path for all of us just coming in.  Last year’s collaboration between the LatinX Alliance, HSI Title III and Title V grants, along with theSept 2017 Campus Conexiones Peer Navigation/CRUISE program was a huge success, it was a given that we would continue to use the Campus Conexiones to reach out and connect with students at Mesa.  We’ve already kicked off the semester with our first interview of Manuel J. Velez on September 26th.

Professor Velez gave a powerful presentation in which he shared his experiences growing up and coming into his identity as a Chicano.  He discussed his journey through college, his obstacles to become a writer, and his dedication to activism.  He proudly spoke of using his work to depict his community as it really is, and dispel the myths surrounding Chicana/Chicano communities.

In 1995, Professor Velez received the Pellicer/Frost Bi-National Poetry Award for his collection Bus Stops and Other Poems (1998).  To experience a piece from this collection, read by the author himself, visit:

Oct 2017 Campus ConexionesThat was just the beginning.  We’ve got a whole line up of inspirational people to share with you.  Up next:  October 24, 2017 from 11-12, we will be introducing you Ian Villalta.  Professor Villalta was born to immigrants from El Salvador, graduated from nearby Kearny High School, and completed his undergraduate studies at San Diego State University.  In addition to being a part of our Psychology Department here at Mesa, Professor Villalta is a Mentor for the HSI STEM Mentorship Program and a member of the planning group for the Mesa College Research Conference (MCRC).  Come and join us to hear what else he has to share.

We will continue our fall series in November with an evening event on November 29th from 4:30-5:30, where you will meet Counselor Cristina Carrillo.  Stay tuned.



While many of you may have been away from campus over the summer, Proyecto Exito was in full swing with several events.  We tried to touch on the highlights below so that you can remain in the loop with our successes and new adventures.  It all began with the Course Redesign Institute (CRI):

CRI 2017

CRI Banner

What an amazing week of collaboration and fun.  Each year we hold the Course Redesign InIMG_0679stitute, where we invite faculty to take a closer look at their syllabus andDSC_0023 curriculum and consider ways to make them more interactive and stimulating for students.  This year we had a remarkable commitment from 15 dedicated faculty, who were willing to take that good hard look, and explore some alternative approaches that could further address the needs of our disproportionally impacted students.  Our awesome facilitators:  Dr. Denise Rogers, Maria-Jose Zelden-Perez, and Dr. Jennifer Carmichael, brought valuable insights, speakers, and experiences for our collaboration benefit.DSC_0013Find further details about CRI and the 2017 agenda here:

Classroom Tutors

We offered classroom tutoring in six classes over the summer, (Math 96, 116, & 119, and Chemistry 152) including the usual tutoring sessions after every class.  Additionally, we welcomed nine new Classroom Tutors to carry on this program.  As we move toward institutionalization we are always seeking to fine tune these current programs making them more efficient and effective for our students.  For the fall we are in 13 classrooms; including Accounting 116A.  We continue to receive positive feedback from students who participate in the program; that it is really helpful to their success and understanding within the classroom.  We are currently exploring ways to increase the number of tutoring sessions available, always cognizant of students having other classes and a busy schedule.  We welcome any suggestions and feedback.

Summer CRUISE 2017

Summer CRUISE 2017-2


After welcoming 13 new Peer Navigators (PN’s) and initiating them with a grueling, two week training, our Summer CRUISE program sprinted off of the starting line.  These amazing new additions were awesome in their transition exceeding any expectations for greatness.  For the first time we offered six Summer CRUISE workshops (four daytime and two evenings); serving more than 500 incoming students, including our Promise and International Students.  Our new PN’s were exceptional in getting connected with our students, welcoming them onto our campus, and providing them with an abundance of information to support them on theirSummer CRUISE 2017-1 path to success.  This is exactly the kind of collaboration we seek to build on Mesa Campus.

Check out some of the photos here:


Mathletics 2017-2

Finally, out of the planning stage and into implementation.  Proyecto Exito hosted our first ever Mathletics Workshop.  Designed to encourage students with Math collaboration and building confidence, our Math Course Designers Juan U. Bernal and Kelly Spoon planned a four-day workshop to review some of the tough concepts, increase self-esteem, and establish a math related network for students.  With the opening of the STEM Center these Professors are committed to making math fun and encouraging students to commit to math related majors.Mathletics 2017-1

Check out some additional photos from the workshop here:

And see what students had to say here:


HSI Grant Regional Meeting

IMG_0244On March 22, 2017, Proyecto Exito hosted the first ever HSI Grant Regional Meeting on Mesa Campus.  Representatives from nine community colleges in San Diego and Riverside counties attended making this a truly collaborative effort.  Discussions immediately took off with regard to Steering Committees; Math Faculty & Acceleration; Objectives; IPR’s vs. APR’s; Carryovers; First Year Experiences; and Evaluations; just to name a few.

This first of its kind collaboration IMG_0254allowed many of us to share ideas, experiences, and outcomes from our individual programs; both teaching and learning from each other.  It easily developed into a forum of give and take as we brainstormed ways to network for the best possible outcomes for our student populations.  In addition to the combination of ideas and practices, we had an opportunity to engage in giving and receiving feedback to our ideas and our programs; making it a truly invaluable experience.



Group consensus was that regular meetings would be appropriate and beneficial for the growth and development of our individual grants.  This will further model to our students the importance of working together toward a common goal, across the lines of departments, cultures, and educational backgrounds.

AHSI Conference

 Alliance of Hispanic Serving Institution EducatorsAHSIE Conf 1

April 9-12, 2017, several members of our team attended the Alliance of Hispanic Serving Institution Educators (AHSIE) Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.  This annual Best Practices Conference expresses the purpose and the mission of the Alliance of HSI Educators.  AHSIE exists to support HSIs in their quest to provide quality, relevant educational opportunities to their students and communities.  AHSIEs activities are intended to benefit HSI practitioners/educators through cooperation, networking, partnerships, information-sharing, technical assistance and collaboration.

Our very own Agustin Rivera, Title V/HSI Grant Student Support Services Officer and Fabiola Beas, Lead Peer Navigator, presented on our amazing CRUISE (Creating Rich Unique Intellectual Experiences) and Peer Navigator Programs and the success that we have been experiencing with our peer to peer connections.  They were able to present data and examples to demonstrate the effectiveness of the monthly peer contacts, the importance of a formal space for students, as well as staff development techniques to establish and maintain a strong peer mentorship program.

I was able to catch up with our Fabulous Fabiola to hear about her experience.  She is SDSU bound, majoring in Psychology with the desire and determination to become a community college counselor.  See what she had to say:

AHSIE Conf 2Q:  What was the first day at the conference like?

A:  The first day at the conference was the student leadership institute.  I was able to meet several student leaders from different campuses all over the country and Puerto Rico.  I became friends with a lady from CSU San Marcos, and we were the only student leaders from the San Diego area.  There was a lot of team building that emphasized team leadership, and I’m planning to bring many of them to our Peer Navigator meetings.

Q:  What else did you do/take away from your experience?

A:  I attended a lot of workshops and learned a lot.  Many other campuses had peer mentors, tutors, or student coordinators of some form.  CSU Channel Island actually incorporated classes within their mentor program, using peer mentors to teach the courses and prepare the syllabus.  They used this process called syllabus mapping, and I brought back the instructions to share with the peer navigators.  They also used alternating office hours, where they set out a schedule for their mentors.  For example, they were assigned office hours, which might include housekeeping or organizing, so that they always have something to do.  I thought that dividing office hours into different segments like this would be more efficient; making sure that even the little tasks get done.  It was like a more structured way of scheduling.  Another thing was a workshop that talked about how to be supportive of undocumented students.  The lady had little signs that said, “Welcome Dreamers!”  I really liked that and even brought some back to hang up in the AVANZA Engagement Center.

Q:  What was this presentation you gave?

A:  I gave a brief presentation with Agustin about our CRUISE and Peer Navigator Programs.  Agustin presented about how to establish a peer mentoring program on campus, and what went into training Peer Navigators.  Then I was able to present on the responsibilities of a Peer Navigator and what it means and entails to be a Lead Peer Navigator.  We received a very positive response from the presentation, and many people asked further questions for more details when it was over.  There was a lot of interest to start similar programs on various campuses.AHSIE Conf 4

Q:  What workshop stood out the most to you?

A:  I really had a great appreciation for the CSU Channel Island program.  It was really similar to our Peer Navigator Program; however, there were a couple of things that really stood out to me that I would like to adopt for the peer navigators.  One such thing was a monthly outing that took the place of one of their monthly meetings.  It was just an opportunity for the mentors to get some down time together away from the stress of work and school where there are so many demands for their time and attention.  This would be something really informal and fun, but where the mentors could relax, connect, and rejuvenate.  I believe that implementing something like this could be really beneficial for our team of Navigators.

Q:  How did it feel to be the first student to attend an AHSIE Conference?

A:  It felt like an achievement to be the first student.  First formal and professional conference, more mature, improve leadership and professional skills.

Q:  What pointers would you give to a future Lead Peer Navigator preparing to attend a conference like this?

A:  I would encourage students (leaders or not) to attend the student leadership workshops, be open and friendly to meet new people and network.  Also, allow yourself to be open to new people and experiences.  Stay engaged and involved on campus so that you can meet other people (faculty/staff/Dean’s), you never know when a new opportunity will arise.

Q:  Anything else you would like to share?

A:  I had a lot of fun!!!!

Ultimately, the conference was a hit for all of our team members who attended.  They were able to network with other campuses, share and gain ideas and effective practices, in addition to participating in a wide variety of workshops and discussions.  We hope that you will stay tuned as we continue to roll out new ideas and innovations to engage our students and shape them into the leaders they are meant to be.