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.

2017 Summer CRUISE

Kicked off with Success!!!!


2017 Summer CRUISE 1We’ve kicked off our Summer CRUISE 2017 with seven sessions of CRUISE.  We are hosting five morning CRUISE’s from 8:00am-1:00pm:  June 27-29; July 11-13; 18-20; 25-27; and August 1-3.  Additionally, we are offering two evening CRUISE’s from 5:30-9:00pm July 11-13; and August 1-3.  We are welcoming nine new Peer Navigators, former CRUISE participants, who are really setting the bar for networking with all of our incoming students.

It is our goal through this2017 Summer CRUISE 4 program to meet all incoming students with support that will assist in their success.  Whether newly graduated from High School, transitioning from Continuing Education or the Armed Forces, or just having taking a break for the last three years; we are committed to making each students first year at Mesa a year to remember.  We want to ensure that each student has access to faculty who are committed to student success.

2017 Summer CRUISE 3

Our first summer session did not disappoint.  With 108 student participants in June and 273 participants so far in July; we are convinced that we are getting the message out there to incoming students.  We continue to incorporate the campus tours, collaboration with Outreach, a student experience panel, as well as the Financial Literacy workshop to teach students about responsible money management.  If you haven’t had a chance to come by and check us out, please do so soon.

To read another article about the success of the 2017 CRUISE’s, go here:

To see more photos, go here:  2017 Summer CRUISE



Mathletics 2017

mathletics_horiz_logo_bluDuring Summer 2017, we will host our first annual Mathletics.  Mathletics will be a voluntary four day workshop held July 31st –August 3rd, 2017.  Workshops will take place from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, and will include interactive learning opportunities to strengthen and review math skills between levels 46-96.

Data shows that students who receive a “C” in their current math course only have a 40% chance of passing the next level math class.  Our purpose is to provide a fun atmosphere for learning and practicing math without all of the anxiety of passing a math class.  In addition, we are seeking to build confidence in our students and allow them an opportunity to really enjoy the math they are learning.

Each day will host different topics; consisting of ice breakers; interactive problem solving; lecture; and independent work with an online forum.  It is our hope that alternating between small group practice and lecture style teaching will enrich the experience of our students and encourage the building of a network of support for their future math endeavors.  Of course, the FREE stuff is always great, too!

Register today, before space runs out!2017_mathletics_digitalflyerV01

AVANZA Engagement Center


We are excited for our students!

A prime objective of the Proyecto Exito grant is to develop a student center:

“Establishment of a Student Engagement Center which will focus on integrating the Latino student experience into the Mesa College culture. Additionally, an innovative Student Navigators program will be housed in the Student Engagement Center, allowing peer-to-peer interactions and mentoring to take place. This Center will offer creative programming focused on leadership development, socio-cultural experience, and academic support. It will promote Latino culture and explore Latino identity and self-awareness and provide a space where family members learn how they can support their student. Existing programs such as Puente will use this center, and the Chicano Studies faculty will frequent the Center, creating a central location for Latino student support.”

The development of this type of center takes the entire campus community.  The space had already been identified from the old academic skill center on the 2nd floor of the Student Services Building. A work group needed to be pulled together to develop a shared vision of the center.  In October of 2016 we kicked off this endeavor with an open forum to engage campus community.  Faculty, staff and administrators discussed ideas and the various needs the center will be able to meet for our students.

AVANZA furn 5The work group began meeting to review themes for the center, including clarifying the purpose of the center, who would use it, what are the needs, furniture and technology, look and feel, and what should be its name.  Feedback was also provided from students in the Puente program who went through a visioning process of a student center.  In December of 2016 we followed up with a student forum to solicit more input from students and to have further dialogue on an official name for the center.

Through the guidance of the work group, plans have progressedAVANZA workshopwith numerous meetings and discussions surrounding the layout of the center, which will allow multiple activities, meetings, and workshops to take place at once.  This center will provide a place for students to support and connect with each other.  Additionally, they will be able toAVANZA engagement connect with faculty and staff to receive additional help as needed.  These things will be possible by dividing the space into areas that will serve different functions, for example:  workshop and engagement areas, in addition to quiet study areas.

It is our goal that this will be a “safe space” for our students to be who they are, express themselves, and be affirmed for their accomplishments.  Decorations will be colorful and symbolic of the diverse Latino cultures and countries.  Not only would this be a safe space for Hispanic expression, but an educational space to open up this beautiful world for those who may not be aware; an inclusive space where students will be able to share their stories, inspire and empower one another.  Versatile furniture and wireless connectivity will further enhance student’s ability to engage the center’s resources no matter what their individual needs may be.

AVANZA furn 3AVANZA furn 1AVANZA furn 2

Additionally, we are planning to extend the center for some family engagement.  Hosting workshops, and informational meet and greets, where families can get a taste of campus life and support.  Discussions continue to involve ways of increasing student access to counselors, financial aid, outreach, and peer navigators & mentors.

The remodeling of an existing community college building, that involves structural changes, must go through a process at the state level that can take 6-8 months.  Instead of operating in its current state during this time, we have decided to implement the conversion of the space into two phases.  First phase:  all the furniture and equipment so that the center can function as it is intended to; the second phase is the physical construction once approved by the state.  This construction will consist of the division of the space by a movable partition, re-carpeting and painting.  The goal is to be completed by the beginning of the spring semester, 2018.

Beyond the purpose, programing, and remodeling of the center; the name and its identity has been a robust process with strong campus conversations with faculty, students, staff and administrators.  At the beginning of April, the center work group forwarded two names to the executive team, and the name AVANZA Engagement Center was approved!  The name, a cognate of the Spanish word for advance, was chosen as it represents concepts such as forward thinking, movement, and coolness as reasons for student support.

We would like to thank everyone who has, and will continue to participate in the process as we build the AVANZA Engagement Center!!