Saddleback College Hosts 9th Annual K-12 Partnership Breakfast


Dr. Tod A. Burnett with Kirsten Vitale, superintendent at Capistrano Unified School District, and Dr. Clint Harwick, superintendent of Saddleback Valley Unified School District.

On the morning of Wednesday, October 26th, Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College, hosted his ninth annual K-12 Partnership Breakfast. The K-12 Partnership Breakfast brings together the members of the college’s High School Partnership Program, which includes Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD) and Saddleback Valley Unified School District (SVUSD), to meet and discuss the importance of maximizing student preparedness and success.


Saddleback College Automotive Technology Program to Partner with Audi of America

The Automotive Technology Program at Saddleback College has entered into a partnership agreement with Audi of America to become part of the Audi Education Partnership (AEP). The AEP will assist the college in the training of technicians who will be able to diagnose and repair some the most advanced luxury vehicles on the market.

As part of the partnership, Audi of America is providing Saddleback College access to the resources, tools and equipment to train students including Audi vehicles for hands-on training. Once a student nears completion of the Audi service program, the college will provide a list of top graduating candidates to Audi for potential employment at various Audi dealerships nationwide.

Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College, shared, “I am thrilled that the Automotive Technology program was able to provide this opportunity to our students. It is partnerships like these that will ensure our students are the best and brightest in the automotive technology field.”

Clifford Meyer, automotive technology department chair added, “This affords our students the opportunity to work on a major European automotive brand.”

“Audi of America has established the Audi Education Partnership to help meet the growing and predicted future demand for dealership technicians,” said Dan McGowan, technical curriculum design & recruitment specialist for Audi. “The purpose of the program is to attract skilled technicians to Audi dealerships across the country. The goal of the program is to increase awareness of the Audi brand among students in the automotive program at each participating school.”

The Saddleback College Automotive Technology program is designed to prepare students for employment as automotive technicians. Students also have the option to complete their Associate in Science degree requirements and prepare to transfer to a four-year college. The following five certificate options are available: automotive chassis specialist, automotive engine service specialist, automotive engine performance specialist, alternative fuel vehicle specialist and general automotive technician.


Saddleback College Horticulture Partners with Casa Romantica

This academic year Saddleback College’s Department of Horticulture and Landscape Design and Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens will initiate a unique partnership through Saddleback’s Cooperative Work Experience (CWE) program. The partnership will give students the opportunity to gain real-world work experience for program credit in a unique public garden setting.

Casa Romantica will benefit from the enthusiasm, knowledge, and abilities of students in the college’s horticulture and landscape design program  each semester as they assist in the development of the extensive gardens surrounding this historic estate.

The effort was spearheaded by Jodie Cook, Casa Romantica Director of Gardens, and Ken Lee, Saddleback Horticulture and Landscape Design faculty.  Beginning August 19th the new student interns will be working on all aspects of garden development including interpretive signage, planting and container design, grounds improvement, expanding the library of docent reference materials, and various special projects planned for the gardens.  There will also be an opportunity for the students to assist in the slate of garden programming planned for the upcoming year.

“I feel the alliance with Casa Romantica is a wonderful opportunity to extend our students’ learning environment into a working public garden”, said Professor Lee.

The Casa’s stunningly situated 2.5 acre site features a native California garden, two succulent and cactus gardens, as well as butterfly and pollinator gardens.  It also contains a number of plant species unique to the Southern California coast.

The horticulture and landscape design program at Saddleback College was established in 1975 and offers the following courses:  Introduction to Landscape Design; Plant Materials – Trees and Shrubs, Introduction to Horticultural Science, Landscape Computer Aided Drafting and Design, Introduction to Planting Design, Soils and Fertilizers, History of Landscape Design, Hardscape and Construction Materials, Ornamental Native Plants, Professional Practices of Residential Landscape Design, and Advanced Irrigation Design.  Occupational Skills Awards are offered in general horticulture and plant identification.

Both Casa Romantica and Saddleback College are enthusiastic in anticipating the success of this program and believe the benefits will be rewarding for both the Casa’s award-winning gardens and Saddleback’s horticulture and landscape design students.

Saddleback College Community Education to Offer After-School and Enrichment Programs at Capistrano Unified School District Schools in New Partnership

Building on Saddleback College’s strong partnership with the Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD), Saddleback College’s Community Education program has been selected to provide summer, after-school, and enrichment activities at local schools for children from ages 4 to 17.

Summer Experience day camps will begin on July 8th at six local schools and offer students art, science, cooking, sports, and academic enrichment classes taught by CUSD teachers. The camps will be held in Aliso Viejo at Canyon Vista and Oak Grove elementary schools; Ladera Ranch at Oso Grande Elementary School; San Clemente at Marblehead Elementary School; Laguna Niguel at Laguna Niguel Elementary School; and Rancho Santa Margarita at Las Flores Elementary School.

A more extensive schedule of after-school and enrichment activities will be available at additional campuses in the fall.

Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College, stated, “Our partnership with CUSD allows the college to expand our thriving College for Kids program to area schools, giving families greater access to our exceptional programs that focus on personal enrichment and skill-building to children of all ages.”

CUSD Superintendent Dr. Joseph M. Farley said, “This District is proud to expand our partnership with Saddleback College to include students of all ages. Students in south Orange County will be able to explore a variety of interests while continuing their learning outside of the traditional school day.”

The CUSD Board of Trustees is expected to formally ratify the agreement with Saddleback College this month.

Saddleback College’s Community Education program will assess the needs of each school, expand current offerings, transition successful summer and after-school classes that were previously offered by CUSD to the new program, and form new partnerships to meet the after-school educational and enrichment needs of local students and families.

To register for the Summer Experience program, please visit the Saddleback college Community Education website at Summer Experience classes will run from July 8th  to August 23rd. Information on after-school activities for the 2013-2014 school year will be forthcoming.

For more than 30 years Saddleback College Community Education has provided the south Orange County community with high-quality classes and activities that promote life-long learning and personal success. The College for Kids summer program was established in the early 1980’s, offering a wide assortment of classes to children at the Saddleback College campus. Community Education also offers swimming and diving lessons through its youth aquatics program.

Automotive Technology Program Receives $50,000 Donation for Student Scholarships from Tuttle-Click

Saddleback College’s automotive technology program was awarded $50,000 for student scholarships thanks to a generous donation from Tuttle-Click Automotive Group. The Tuttle-Click Automotive Technology Scholarship,  a partnership through which students get on-the-job training at a local Tuttle-Click dealership while earning four certifications and their associate degree in automotive technology, awards students $750 per semester, a Matco starter tool set valued at $4,500, and job placement upon completion. This is the second year Saddleback has received the donation; the first was awarded in 2008 and 10 students have participated in the program.

(L-R) Math, Science and Engineering Dean Christopher McDonald, Foundation Board President Jim Leach, Service Director at Tustin Tuttle-Click Dale Sponseller, Automotive Technology Department Chair Clifford Meyer, Division of Advanced Technology and Applied Science Dean Don Taylor

“This partnership with Tuttle-Click is an excellent example of how everyone benefits when the college and industry work together to train students for successful careers,” stated Dr. Tod Burnett, president of Saddleback College. “The scholarships provide students the support to complete their education, and the jobs at Tuttle-Click get their careers started immediately following their graduation. It’s an ideal situation for our students.”

Dale Sponseller, service director at Tustin Tuttle-Click Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge, stated, “Saddleback College’s automotive technology instructors have the same high standards for  their students that we do for our employees, so this partnership has been extremely beneficial to Tuttle-Click and Saddleback. Students who complete the program continue to move up the ranks at Tuttle-Click dealerships throughout the area.”

“Our outstanding automotive technology instructors work tirelessly to help our students exceed their academic and professional goals,” stated Don Taylor Saddleback College Division of Advanced Technology and Applied Science dean. “This partnership provides students with a career goal that is not only viable but also profitable.”

“This is the perfect program for students who are interested in cars but who also want to start their careers quickly,” stated Clifford Meyer, automotive technology department chair. “I am extremely proud of the students who have completed the program and am happy to continue the partnership with Tuttle-Click.”

Most graduates of the program continue to work for Tuttle-Click and many are now senior technicians. When students complete the two-year program, they will have earned an associate degree and be certified in automotive chassis, automotive engine service, automotive engine performance, and general automotive. Students who are interested in the program must first apply as an entry-level technician or apprentice technician at a local Tuttle-Click dealership and then fill out a separate application for the scholarship. Prospective students who would like more information on the program may contact Clifford Meyer at

2012 Great Scholarship Giveaway Recipients

In May, Saddleback College’s foundation, outreach department, and financial assistance department announced the Great Scholarship Giveaway, a scholarship that would be awarded to graduating high school seniors attending school within the South Orange County Community College District service area. Selected students would each receive a scholarship for the equivalent of one full-time semester at Saddleback. The group was pleasantly surprised by the number of applications (50) and also very impressed by the high quality of the applicants. Because there were so many outstanding applications, the representatives from the foundation, outreach department, and financial assistance department had a tough time deciding on the recipients, but they managed to select 14 exceptional scholarship winners. An awards reception will be held in the fall to recognize the recipients.

The 14 recipients are listed below with their high school name, high school GPA, and intended Saddleback College major.

  • Amir Ali, Mission Viejo High School, 4.19, Business Management
  • Keatyn Bucknam, San Juan Hills High School, 4.0, Marine Science
  • Jacqueline Doan, Tesoro High School, 3.9, Biology
  • Erin Kelley, Capistrano Valley High School, 3.89, Child Development and Educational Studies
  • George Widdowson, San Juan Hills High School, 3.73, Engineering
  • Stephen Morris, Aliso Niguel High School, 3.72, Music
  • Sahra Agharezaei, Laguna Hills High School, 3.7, Political Science
  • Haben Mekonnen, San Clemente High School, 3.7, Engineering
  • Rebecca Azeltine, Mission Viejo High School, 3.6, Nursing
  • Austin Purmort, Mission Viejo High School, 3.45, Theatre Arts
  • Alyssa Franklin, San Clemente High School, 3.4, Psychology
  • Francesca Manzo, Capistrano Valley Christian High School, Undecided
  • Brenda Moreno, Mission Viejo High School, 3.3, Nursing
  • Jordan Rdarte, J. Serra Catholic High School, 3.3, Graphics

Congratulations to all the scholarship recipients! We look forward to seeing you next semester!

Senior Day is March 29

Saddleback College will welcome hundreds of high school seniors to the college’s annual Senior Day on Thursday, March 29th from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the quad outside of the Student Services Center. The festivities will include informational workshops on the academic, career, and counseling programs offered to Saddleback College students, as well as a free In-N-Out Burger lunch, games, and prizes.

2011 Senior Day Scavenger Hunt

Senior Day is a wonderful opportunity for high school seniors and their parents to learn about the outstanding programs and services offered at Saddleback College, where student success is our top priority. I look forward to seeing our future students on campus at Senior Day.

Saddleback students, faculty and staff should be aware that campus will be busier than a typical Thursday and should adjust their schedule accordingly.

White House Jobs Council Visits Saddleback College

Photo courtesy of Michael O'Meara

On the morning of Monday, March 5th, Saddleback College hosted the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which facilitated a discussion with local and national healthcare stakeholders to discuss workforce training needs within the healthcare sector. The U.S. Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, chose Saddleback College as the venue for this panel discussion and listening session because the college is launching a new health career boot camp, an innovative basic skills development pilot program for students entering allied health educational programs.

Saddleback College was very lucky to host our distinguished guests and I am confident that these discussions will help shape the future of healthcare education. I am extremely proud of the hard work that our administrators, faculty, and staff have put into ensuring that our students are prepared to meet the growing workforce needs of the healthcare industry, and I look forward to watching this program thrive as it helps our students acquire the skills they need for career success.

The President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness has partnered with California Community Colleges to develop national models for accelerated training and placement of health care workers into available jobs. The event highlighted the California Community College Chancellor’s Office Health Workforce Initiative and California as a national model for how cities and states across the country can address their healthcare workforce training needs.

The discussion at Saddleback College featured a panel of representatives from the White House, California Community Colleges, and healthcare industry partners, who all spoke about their areas of expertise and took questions from the audience.

The panel was introduced by Chancellor Gary Poertner and included: Don Graves, Executive Director, President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness; Alicia Villarreal,  West Coast Regional Representative, U.S. Department of Labor; Linda Zorn, Statewide Director, Health Workforce Initiative, California Community Colleges; Tim Rainey,  Executive Director, California Workforce Investment Board; Maria-Jean Caterinicchio,  Director, Workforce Development and Professional Practice at Saddleback Memorial  Medical Center and MemorialCare Medical Centers – Orange County; Donna  Rane-Szostak, Dean of Health Sciences and Human Services, Saddleback College; Jim  Collins, Dean of Science and Allied Health, Sacramento City College; Courtney Sinclair,  Saddleback College Nursing Program Graduate.

Prior to the discussion, Donna Rane-Szostak led the panelists on a tour of Saddleback’s allied health program simulated labs, where they watched students in the paramedic and nursing programs simulate an emergency response situation. Dr. Rane-Szostak stated, “We are very excited about our pilot program and believe it has real potential to be a model in the state and throughout the nation. The program will be piloted at Saddleback College beginning this summer and will focus on health care sector-specific basic skills to enhance student success.”

To view the panel discussion online, visit To view photos from the event, visit

Economic and Workforce Development Roundtables

Last week, I was pleased to host the second President’s Roundtable for Economic and Workforce Development on the stage of the McKinney Theatre.  Nearly 50 business and community leaders met with college leaders to discuss how to better prepare students to embark upon successful careers.

Community colleges have been linked for many years with economic and workforce development.  We learned from our first roundtable that there are jobs available, but employees are lacking skills in communication, basic math and English, and are not committed to their jobs.  The primary recommendation was that Saddleback College needs to develop and expand its internship program to give students the experience they need to be more successful in the workplace.

Studies have shown that interns are 70 percent more likely to be hired as full-time employees, get a job quicker and have more job offers than those who do not have an internship.  Interns receive 25 percent higher starting salaries than non-interns and average 2.5 months to secure a job, versus 6.3 months for non-interns.

During the  session, Susan Forte O’Neill, President of Forte Designs, facilitated an exciting discussion on ways to build and fund an internship program using a business model.  Jim Leach, CEO of the South Orange County Regional Chamber of Commerce, addressed the roundtable and discussed his group’s partnership with the college to conduct a business retention survey. The chamber is currently providing scholarships for Saddleback College student interns to work on the project.

Saddleback College currently provides internship opportunities through the Cooperative Work Experience program, which combines classroom education with planned, supervised work experience and allows the student to earn college credit for work experience.  For more information about the Saddleback College internship program, please contact Eric Hilden, Career Placement Officer, at or consult the college website at

Saddleback College Welcomes High School Officials to K-12 Partnership Breakfast

Saddleback College welcomed nearly 30 local high school officials to the Saddleback College K-12 Principals Breakfast on Wednesday, October 26.  The event provided an opportunity to learn about how local schools can prepare prospective Saddleback College students to succeed in their pursuit of an academic degree and Career Technical Education programs.

Saddleback College and the local K-12 form a vital resource for students who seek quality education and career training. Saddleback offers every student the opportunity to succeed with stellar faculty and staff and an impressive offering of more than 300 degree and certificate programs.

Speakers at the K-12 Partnership Breakfast included Dean of Liberal Arts Dr. Kevin O’Connor, Director of Planning, Research & Grants Gretchen Bender, Professor of Automotive Technology Cliff Meyer, and President of the Saddleback Associated Student Government Joseph Hassine.

In his presentation, Dr. O’Connor stressed the importance of building students’ basic skills so that they would be more likely to succeed in their post-secondary education. Saddleback is focused on bridging the gap between high school and college-level math, reading, and writing courses to affect the achievement of students as they transition between segments.

The officials from local high schools who attended included:
Capistrano Unified School District Adult Education Principal Dr. Robert Nye
Capistrano Unified School District Trustees Ellen Addonizio, Anna Bryson, Sue Palazzo, and Dr. Gary Pritchard
Capistrano Valley Christian School, Head of Schools Dr. Ron Sipus
Capistrano Valley High School, Principal Kevin Astor
Dana Hills High School Assistant Principal Cindy Steinert
Foothill High School Principal Al Marzilli
Irvine High School Assistant Principal Melinda Fowler
J. Serra Catholic High School Director of Counseling Olivia Huie
Mission Viejo High School Principal Dr. Ray Gatfield
Northwood High School Assistant Principal Lerona Dickson
Saddleback Valley Unified School District, District Coordinator of Instruction Cathy Kane
San Juan Hills High School Principal Tom Ressler and Assistant Principal Eric Paulsen
San Clemente High School Assistant Principal Cameron Lovett
Santa Margarita Catholic High School President Paul Crary
Serra High School, Principal Rich Bellante
Tesoro High School, Principal Dr. Dan Burch and Assistant Principal Sean McNamara
Trabuco Hills High School, Principal Craig Collins
Tustin Unified School District, Chief Academic Officer Kathie Nielsen
Tustin Unified School District, Trustee Francine Scinto
Woodbridge High School, Assistant Principals Sheila Adams and Chris Krebs