The Saddleback Community Giving Back

The 53 Thanksgiving Baskets Collected for Student Veterans

We have a great deal to be thankful for at Saddleback College, especially everything the students and employees do each and every day to give back to the community. Over the past couple of weeks there have been some remarkable efforts that underscore our campus’ spirit of giving.

The Classified Senate led by co-chairs Tracy McConnell and Cathy Beres sponsored the 3rd annual ‘Giving Thanks’ to Saddleback student veterans.  With donations of over 5,000 non-perishable food items from students, faculty, staff, and management, they were able to present 53 overflowing Thanksgiving baskets to student veterans. In addition, contributions of gift cards and cash enabled each recipient to buy a turkey and all the fixings needed to create a complete family holiday meal.

The Associate Student Government sponsored a turkey drive to raise funds and food for student families in our Extended Opportunity Program and Services (EOPS).  The students raised $951 and collected over 3,050 food items including six turkeys donated by a former ASG member. Their efforts provided enough food for a traditional thanksgiving dinner for over 20 families,.

The college’s student services division developed a partnership with Helping Hand Worldwide to provide free groceries each month for some of our students and veterans in need and to raise awareness about hunger in our community. Their first grocery distribution was on November 7th that served 48 students, with distributions occurring on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month in Lot #1 between 12:30pm and 1:30pm.  This group effort was led by Jeanne Harris-Caldwell, Terence Nelson, Joyce Semanik, Lisa Inlow, Sholeh Alizadeh, Erin Long, and Leslie Humphrey.

These efforts and many more across campus make important contributions to our students’ success and supporting our community at large.  We greatly appreciate the work and contributions from hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and management.

President Burnett Meets with Officials in Washington, DC

From October 24th through 26th, President Burnett visited with several elected officials and representatives in Washington, DC to discuss community colleges, funding, and collaboration. Across the board, representatives agreed that community colleges are underutilized and are the key to economic and workforce preparation.

During the visit, Dr. Burnett was able to educate several key officials about Saddleback’s Center for Innovation and Healthcare Education to be housed at ATEP and provided general information about Saddleback, the district, and its current fiscal situation. The Center for Innovation and Healthcare Education will establish an innovative healthcare simulation center for training and skill maintenance of allied health workers throughout the area.

On October 24th, Dr. Burnett met with several representatives from the National Science Foundation, including Karen Tiplady, director of the division of grants and agreements.  The representatives provided excellent feedback and guidance about an NSF-funded ATEP grant. Burnett then had coffee with Congressman John Campbell’s Chief of Staff, Muffy Day, and lunch with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher’s Legislative Director, Jeff Vanderslice, and provided an update about the Center for Innovation and Healthcare Education, the New Market Tax Credit, and Saddleback’s Emeritus Institute. Dr. Burnett also had the opportunity to thank Congressman Rohrabacher for his assistance on the NSF grant. Later in the day, Burnett met with the Department of Education’s Senior Policy Advisor Hal Plotkin, who provided information about the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Grant Program, which has awarded $1 billion to community colleges. Plotkin provided guidance about what type of awards Saddleback should pursue and best practices for applications. The two also discussed Saddleback’s allied health programs, plans for ATEP, and the need for basic skills education and improving student preparedness. Dr. Burnett’s final meeting of the day was with two representatives from the Department of Labor and discussed making community college the first choice for all students, career training, and upcoming grant programs. Dr. Burnett ended the night at the 2012 ATE Principal Investigators Conference as a guest of the NSF.

Meetings continued on October 25th, when Dr. Burnett met with Congressman Darrel Issa’s Legislative Assistant, Ellen Dargie, who confirmed that the Center for Innovation and Healthcare Education fits perfectly with the goal of the New Market Tax Credits. Next, he met with two representatives from Governor Jerry Brown’s office and provided an overview of the district, college, and ATEP development. Deputy Director Katie Wheeler Mathews was impressed with the program and invited Dr. Burnett to provide more information to the Governor’s senior staff in Sacramento. Mathews also provided a list of several people who would be interested in hearing about the project.

Dr. Burnett later met with representatives for Congressman Gary Miller, the House Committee on Education and Workforce, and the Committee on House Administration, and provided an overview of Saddleback, basic aid funding, and the Center for Innovation and Healthcare Education. That afternoon, Dr. Burnett met with Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Majority Professional Staff Thomas Showalter and discussed topics related to workforce investment boards and one stop centers, including job collaboration, job training, and the ways community colleges can be better utilized. Dr. Burnett finished the day by meeting with a representative from Senator Barbara Boxer’s office and then with a representative from Senator Diane Feinstein’s office. Burnett provided both with an overview of the college, the ATEP development, New Market Credits, and career and technical education. Senator Boxer’s representative was particularly interested in the work that Saddleback is doing with student veterans.

In his last day of meetings, Dr. Burnett met with representatives from the Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education, who presented their Blueprint to Transform Career and Technical Education, which was created after collecting feedback about what is and is not working with Perkins funding. In turn, Dr. Burnett provided an overview of the college and its Perkins programs and provided several suggestions to streamline funding. The group also discussed the Center for Innovation and Healthcare Education, remedial education, and the college’s high school partnership program.

Finally, Dr. Burnett met with three representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services, who provided an overview about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the health information technology curriculum projects that were developed through the program. Dr. Burnett provided the group information about the nursing and health information technology programs and the challenges those career fields are facing. The Deputy National Coordinator for Programs and Policy, Judy Murphy, provided Dr. Burnett suggestions about additional ways to secure funding for ATEP development.

In each of the meetings, officials and representatives stressed that collaborations and consortiums with local community colleges, four year universities, K-12 schools, and business is vital to securing grants and other outside funding sources. This feedback supports the steps the college is currently taking to reach out to local schools and industry leaders to create new, innovative programs and improve career training and student completions.

Attending Local College Events

Recently, I have had the privilege of attending several college events to support and represent our college and its students, alumni faculty, staff, and administration.

Zachary Storey and Wade Kilbarger in Spring Awakening (Photographer: Ken Kinder)

First, I had the pleasure of seeing Spring Awakening, a fantastic Saddleback student performance at the Studio Theatre. The cast was extremely talented and the show sold out all nine performances! Congratulations to Director Daniel R. Trevino and everyone involved in the production.

I also attended the Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology’s 40th Anniversary celebration with recent graduate Dr. Estella Castillo-Garrison, director of community education, and Mike Engels, counselor, who is considering starting the program. The event featured 40 donors and was entitled, “Why I Give.” Many of our Saddleback alumni transfer to Pepperdine and it was an honor to support the university and their students.

Finally, Dr. Donna Rane-Szostak, our dean of health sciences and human services, and I met with Dr. Janeen Hill, the interim dean of Schmid College of Science and Technology at Chapman University, to discuss how we can collaborate on developing Chapman’s health sciences programs. Chapman is particularly interested in the proposed simulation hospital that would be housed at ATEP. Following the meeting, I was honored to be Dr. Hill’s guest at the opening night of Chapman’s College of Performing Arts’ American Celebration. It was a productive meeting and an impressive performance by Chapman students.

Meeting with colleagues at local colleges and universities is one of the best ways to initiate collaborations, which often translates into improved student success. I look forward to more of these meetings with local schools, businesses, and community members.

Saddleback College Honors Veterans Day at Moving Ceremony

(L-R) Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president, Saddleback College; Terence Nelson, dean of transfer, career, and special programs; Kolin Williams, VETS counselor and Army veteran; Nick Martinez, student veteran; Gary Poertner, chancellor, SOCCCD; Dr. James Wright, SOCCCD Board of Trustees member and Air Force veteran.

Student Amanda Strader Sings the National Anthem

On Thursday, November 8th, Saddleback College veterans were honored in a moving ceremony hosted by the Veterans Education Transition Services (VETS) Center at the college’s veterans memorial.  The event was attended by South Orange County Community College District Chancellor Gary Poertner, Saddleback College President Tod Burnett, faculty, staff, and administrators of Saddleback College, and veterans from Saddleback College and the community.  Amanda Strader, a student at the college, sang the national anthem.

The event’s keynote speaker was Dr. James Wright, a member of the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees and a retired colonel of the United States Air Force.  In a stirring tribute to veterans, Dr. Wright stated, “This is a day of remembrance for those who sacrificed and especially those who have fallen.  They are our war heroes.”

Speaking of the services provided to veterans at Saddleback College, Dr. Wright stated, “Veterans are one of our greatest untapped resources.  They are self-sufficient, they understand the concept of sacrifice for the greater good; they have lived it.  They think globally.  They are the role models we need at our colleges.  We owe them our gratitude and the chance to have meaningful careers.”  To read Dr. Wright’s speech in full, click here.

Dr. James Wright

Dr. James Wright

Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College, stated, “Thank you to our veterans for their service and sacrifice, which does not go unnoticed at our college.  This group of men and women never fail to impress all of us at the college; not only have they risked their own lives for their country, but are typically model students and citizens who display great leadership and compassion.  They are a prized group on our campus and it is our pleasure to serve them.”

Nick Martinez

Nick Martinez, a Saddleback College student who served in Iraq with the United States Marine Corps, stated, “My fellow veterans: You have been part of the world’s bravest and toughest force.  Today let’s celebrate the acknowledgement of our sacrifice, the many thank-you’s, love, and support.”

Kolin Williams, a counselor in the VETS Center and a veteran of the United States Army, served as master of ceremonies and stated, “For many veterans, the transition to civilian life can seem like an insurmountable challenge, but with that challenge can come great achievement.  We are proud of our veterans and thank them for their service.”

Standing Room Only at Annual Family Night

Professor Ochoa Talks about Speech Communication and the Forensics Team

More than 200 high school students and their families packed into SSC 212 on November 5th for the Saddleback Outreach Department’s annual Family Night. Attendees visited with dozens of college departments at an educational fair, sampled hors d’oeuvres  prepared by culinary students, and listened to music from Students had the opportunity to learn about what majors and career training is offered at Saddleback and meet with deans, faculty, and staff from several departments.

Next, President Burnett, Leslie Humphrey, director of outreach and recruitment, Sahar Ghassemi, associated student government senator of kinesiology and athletics, Lucas Ochoa, professor of speech communications, and three members of Saddleback’s forensic’s team, provided valuable information about being prepared for college and ways to succeed. All seats were filled and people stood throughout the room as Sahar provided insight about what students can expect to get out of coming to Saddleback and what they need to put into their education while they are here. Professor Ochoa and the forensics team put on a great performance and showed why they are one of the best teams in the nation.

Finally, students were able to attend workshops about CTE, financial aid and scholarships, and, transferring and the honors program. All of the workshops were standing room only, the presenters were engaging and informative, and students and family members asked insightful questions.

Family Night has become one of our best events and everyone involved should be proud of the excellent work!

For more pictures, click here.