Saddleback Now a Member of the Southern California Regional Transit Training Consortium

Clifford Meyer and Raj Dhillon

Saddleback College is the most recent member of the Southern California Regional Transit Training Consortium (SCRTTC), a nonprofit dedicated to providing a training resource network focused on employment in the transit industry. The consortium is made up of 31 transportation agencies, community colleges, and universities.

Clifford G. Meyer, Department Chair of the Automotive Technology Program, vigorously pursued this partnership with the organization, which provides training for instructors as well as a gateway for students to find jobs in the industry.

The Automotive Technology Program provides students the opportunity to earn certificates in four specialties: Automotive Chassis Specialist, Automotive Engine Service Specialist, Automotive Engine Performance Specialist, and General Automotive Technician. Instructors will now be able to work with industry partners to keep these programs up-to-date and to keep adding new programs, as the demand for transit workers increases.

For more information on SC’s Automotive Technology programs, visit For further information about the SCRTTC, visit

100 Student-Athletes Make Honor Roll

Assistant Athletic Director Jerry Hannula just let us know some exciting news… 100 of the college’s 332 student-athletes have been named to the Spring 2011 Athletic Honor Roll, including 14 student-athletes with a perfect 4.00 grade point average! A complete list of the incredible student-athletes can be found here.

In order to make the honor roll, student-athletes must have passed at least 12 units during the semester with a 3.00 GPA or higher.

The Spring 2011 semester numbers are in line with the Fall 2010 numbers, where 115 student-athletes where listed on the Honor Roll including 15 with a perfect 4.00 grade point average.

“The success of our athletic teams is apparent when they are in actual competition.  What isn’t quite as apparent to the community is how well these student-athletes are doing in the classroom.  At Saddleback, we take great pride in the academic accomplishments of our student-athletes,” said Tony Lipold, Dean and Athletic Director.

Pendleton Marines and Sailors Visit Saddleback

For many active duty military college isn’t on the radar. If they do have a moment to think about education, they are often unsure of their career options, do not know all of the financial aid that they are eligible for, and don’t know what types of classes they should be taking. Unfortunately, many veterans have never set foot on a college campus and the possibility of reaching upward social mobility through higher education isn’t an apparent option.

Recently, the Saddleback College VETS  (Veterans Education & Transition Services) program brought 17 Camp Pendleton marines and sailors to campus as part of early transition assistance.  Several veterans who had successfully made the transition from military to school shared their stories about the struggles and triumphs of enrolling in college after being discharged. Attendees then took a campus tour, which ended at the Veterans Memorial, before heading off to UCI for another campus tour.

“Our intent is to have this serve as a template that I can share at the Region Representative meeting at the California Community College Chancellors Office in July with the hopes to have this event replicated across the state,” said Terence Nelson, Assistant Dean, Counseling Services and Special Programs.

One message was made clear throughout the day: start planning for college now.

After many attendees shared their fears of leaving the military and only being qualified for minimum jobs, presenters pushed them to open their eyes about high-paying career options that are available with a certificate or a degree. Several speakers encouraged the soldiers to go back to the base and immediately research several career paths and colleges that they might be interested in.

The event also carried a strong theme of starting over. High school performance doesn’t matter, said Elizabeth Tepe a Saddleback student, athlete and veteran. She went from barely passing her high school classes to getting excellent grades at Saddleback and becoming a successful student athlete. Her story seemed to hit a nerve with many audience members who expressed their own concerns about being held back by their past.

During the tour, the marines and sailors seemed encouraged to look into their higher education options and the conversation was lively and upbeat. One of the active duty members summed up the day by telling the presenters, “I never considered college an option for me, but I’m getting more pumped just by being here.”

Second Session of Summer Classes Begins Monday

Summer is already flying by and a new batch of students will be here starting on Monday, June 20th when the second session of summer classes begins. There are still open classes but don’t wait to register!

For the complete class schedule please visit
To apply and register for classes visit

Saddleback College’s Class of 2011 Graduates!

ASG President Melissa Fenerci, Board President Nancy Padberg, College President Burnett

Saddleback College recognized its 1,472 graduates and 981 certificate of achievement  recipients on Friday, May 20th at its annual commencement ceremony.  The event featured the traditional processional and reading of graduates’ names, along with Commencement Speaker and Alumna of the Year Frances Dilorinzo, a comedienne and writer who appeared on NBC’s Last Comic Standing.  Also featured was Commencement Student Speaker Justin Huft, a graduate who is transferring this fall to UC Irvine.

Students participating in commencement are candidates for Associate in Arts and Science degrees and certificates of achievement.  More than 2,000 students will also be transferring to four-year colleges and universities to continue studying for their baccalaureate degrees.  This year’s graduates will be transferring to four-year institutions such as USC, UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, CSU Fullerton, San Diego State University, and Arizona State University, among others.

Of the students who graduated from Saddleback College this year, 346 received honors, including 31 summa cum laude (4.0 grade point average), 125 magna cum laude (3.75 to 3.99 grade point average) and 190 cum laude (3.5 to 3.74 grade point average).  Showing the diverse range of ages at the college, the youngest graduate is 17 years of age, and the

most senior graduate is 71 years of age.  Eighty-five graduates are under the age of 20 and 73 graduates are over the age of 55.

Congratulations Class of 2011!


First Graduate of Medical Laboratory Technician Program is also a Veteran

During Friday’s commencement, Jim Curtella, a Veteran of the U. S. Marine Corps, was the first Saddleback College student to receive his Associate of Science degree in Medical Laboratory Technician. Curtella successfully completed the MLT program, which was state approved in December of 2009, with an overall GPA of 3.37. Curtella, a Lake Forest resident, plans to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in Clinical Laboratory Science.

A member of the U.S. Marine Corps from 2004-2008, including a tour in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Curtella says he came to Saddleback because it was close, but stayed because of the MLT program and the support that veterans receive.

“I knew I wanted go into the health care field and Professor Scott Tharpe’s description of the MLT program intrigued me so much that I enrolled!   I was amazed and honored at the way Saddleback College supports veterans.”

A Record-Breaking $270,000 in Scholarships Awarded at Saddleback College Ceremony

President Burnett and Outstanding Student of the Year Cassandra Ong. Photo Credit: Jenny Loya

A record-breaking $270,000 in scholarships was awarded to 145 students at Saddleback College’s 35th annual Scholarship Ceremony on Thursday, May 12th.  More than 138 individual scholarships were donated by businesses, organizations, community members, and the Saddleback College Associated Student Government, which donated more than $82,000 in scholarships and underwrote the expenses for the ceremony. Forty-nine scholarships worth more than $43,000 were funded by the Bernard Osher Scholarship Fund.

The evening began with the presentation of the ASG President’s Award, which is bestowed to a student who has demonstrated excellent leadership at Saddleback College, and the Outstanding Student Award, which is presented to a student that has shown exemplary leadership, community involvement, and academic achievement. Cassandra Ong, who aspires to be an accountant, was presented the President’s Award by Dr. Burnett. Ms. Ong’s academic goal is to major in accounting in either the University of California or California State University  to pursue an accounting degree and currently holds a 4.0 GPA.  The Outstanding Student of the Year Award went to Tcharles Fagundes, who received his Associate of Arts degree in Business Administration at Saddleback College in 2009. Since graduating, Mr. Fagundes discovered a desire to help less fortunate people as a physician and changed his academic major to health care.

Ms. Varner presented the Donor of the Year Award to the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Mission Viejo-Saddleback Valley. AAUW has contributed to the scholarship program for 10 years, exceeding $30,000 in donations.  For the past three years, the group has also contributed to the Osher Endowment.

The Saddleback College Scholarship Ceremony is an annual event that started in 1976, when 45 donors contributed just over $12,000 to some 60 students. Thirty-five years later, more than $4 million in scholarships have been awarded to deserving Saddleback College students.