Working together in a group is vital to the success of college students as well as adults in their career endeavors. The communications department at Santiago Canyon College has some impressive classes to offer students; one of them being Communications 101, otherwise known as group dynamics and the other one; Communications 130, also referred to as Forensics. The group dynamics class focuses on students learning and practicing the skills needed to improve interpersonal communication in a group setting. The forensics team give students the chance to develop speech and debate skills as well as theater techniques which they practice throughout the semester in order to participate in competitions with other community colleges. Both courses are taught by the passionate Professor Jared Kubicka-Miller.
This semester the students of group dynamics are working diligently on a project to assist the forensics team and improve the college for the future. This project is a showcase that will raise funds for the Forensics team budget and create a plethora of opportunities for future debaters. According to Kubicka-Miller the Forensics team has been active since 2000. It was thriving for a small portion of time until the “Great Recession” hit in 2008. That year, the funding got cut entirely and the team was forced to dissolve. The team made a triumphant return in 2013; they were even eligible to compete in the state championships which took place in Concord, California. They rented 15 passenger vans and embarked on a nine-hour road trip to make the competition.
Currently the budget allotted to the forensics team is $6,000, a stark contrast to the surrounding schools like Orange Coast College, which is estimated to run between $70,000-$100,000 a year. Kubicka-Miller stated that a good-size school requires at least $40,000 in order to cover competition entry fees, travel expenses, and other costs the team must consider. Due to the limited budget, students are only able to participate in local competitions and in some cases must pay out of pocket for their expenses. The team
has traveled to the surrounding areas of Moorpark, Costa Mesa, Long Beach, Irvine Valley College and Mt. San Antonio College. These short treks have all been valuable experiences for the students, but we are envisioning something superior to what they are familiar with. “I want to travel nationally, be able to go to maybe two national tournaments a year, next year in Washington DC, the following year in Daytona Beach, Florida,” said Professor Kubicka-Miller.
The forensic team has many benefits and opportunities to offer students in their academic careers. By participating in the team, members can expect to network with like-minded individuals and also open up their world to more scholarship and college transfer opportunities. This extracurricular activity looks wonderful on transcripts; it’s that extra stamp of flair universities search for. “I had a scholarship after I transferred, one year paid for at Cal State Long Beach. My wife received a full ride to Northern Arizona University because she is so good at persuasion; only way you can do that is through this community,” said Kubicka-Miller. Also, another important reason to take part in this activity is that it helps to build the reputation and identity of Santiago Canyon College.
The fundraiser event will be held at Santiago Canyon College on Friday, May 20 at 5:00 p.m. Tickets for the showcase go on sale soon and will cost $35 each, which covers the debate team showcase, a reception of creative “mocktails” and h’orsdeurves, and a silent auction. In the event that one cannot attend our fundraiser, but would like to make a contribution to the cause, we have a donation page set up. A donation of any amount is truly appreciated from the group dynamics class as well as the forensics team. You can make a secure donation at http://www.teamscc.kintera.org/sccforensics .
Submitted by Hawk Forensic Debate Team student Brianna Resendiz
Recently, SCC student Solomon Jones sat down with Professor William Lennertz, Professor of English, to learn more about his path to SCC, his thoughts on education and his motivation for teaching.
Professor Lennertz comes from a family of teachers – his mother and a number of other family members also teach. Professor Lennertz grew up in Huntington Beach and went to college at Cal State Long Beach, where he was taught by people who were talented, idealistic and hard working. He credits both his family members who teach and his former teachers as his role models in deciding to become a college professor.
Professor Lennertz’s path to becoming a successful English professor was far from usual. In college he was a math major who saw himself in a career working on math and engineering problems in a university lab. However, during grad school he paid the bills by being a teaching assistant, and found that he really enjoyed helping undergraduates succeed within the classroom. He also decided that he could make the biggest difference in students’ lives by teaching English.
In his approach to teaching, Professor Lennertz focuses not only on providing his students with information, but also on mentoring. He sees a student as a complete individual and determines how he can best provide that student with the tools for his or her academic success.
“My goal is to help the student understand what he or she needs to get out of this class. The rest will take care of itself.”
Professor Lennertz started working at SCC in 1996, when the college was still known as the Orange Campus of Santa Ana College. There are many reasons he decided to stay. In the beginning, the campus was small, and professors and staff all knew on another. The camaraderie everyone shared helped create the sense of this being a real learning community. This was important, since the (then) remote location and its proximity to the Santa Ana Mountains made the campus something more akin to a wildlife preserve than a college campus, with fauna of all size making occasional appearances!
Although SCC has grown and the campus is much more developed now, Professor Lennertz still enjoys meeting new teachers and students, and has lost none of his excitement for teaching.
In his spare time, he enjoys painting, running with SCC English professor Rick Adams, and long walks on the beach with his wife.
What advice does Professor Lennertz have for SCC students? “Discover what you’re good at by the time you’re 24 and do that for the next 27 years.”
Solomon Jones, Santiago Canyon College Foundation Assistant
Dr. John Weispfenning was confirmed as the fourth president of Santiago Canyon College in August 2014. Just prior to his appointment, he was vice president of instruction at Orange Coast College and before that dean of instruction for the arts, humanities, social sciences, sciences and library at Santiago Canyon College. He started his career in 1992 as an assistant professor at the University of Maine, and subsequently joined the faculty of Otterbein University in Ohio before moving to California.
A native of North Dakota, Dr. Weispfenning holds a BA in mass communication from Minnesota State University (Moorhead), an M.A. in communication from North Dakota State and a Ph.D. in communications from Purdue. Before pursuing a career in academia, he worked as a journalist and radio broadcaster for stations throughout the Midwest. He is the author of more than a dozen scholarly publications on various media and mass communication topics.
How does it feel to be back at Santiago Canyon College as president? It feels great to be back. I always knew this was a special campus. There’s a spirit of cooperation here that’s rare in higher education. That spirit helps build a sense of shared ownership of the college and it’s a great organization.
What do you see as your primary role as president of SCC?
A president’s primary role is to make sure that the campus continues to have the resources it needs to thrive. He or she also needs to be able to look to the future and ensure that the college continues to build a following and remain relevant to the community it serves.
Prospective students have a lot of options in higher education. What makes SCC stand out as a choice?
SCC was just named one of the top 10 community colleges in the LA area, based on graduation rates. Our location is also a major factor. SCC is located in a beautiful area, convenient to freeways, toll roads and Jamboree Road. There’s also our amazing facilities, which include new science and humanities buildings, an athletics complex and library. We also offer an interesting range of course work, including popular transfer degrees, technical degrees and one of the largest trade apprenticeship programs in California.
After a year in the office and a chance to observe and evaluate, what do you see as the college’s strengths? Remaining challenges?
Hands down, the people who work here are our number one strength. Nothing happens unless faculty and staff make it happen. Our physical campus is in a beautiful location and we have the facilities to meet today’s and future needs. The addition of our science and humanities buildings has helped define a real center to campus and created a vibrant hub for student life.
As far as challenges, Santiago Canyon College needs to become a major player in Orange County. As the newest community college in the county, SCC has gone through some growing pains; the student body hasn’t actually grown as fast as the amazing facilities we have to accommodate them. We think the need and demand are there, but if we’re going to attract more students, we can’t be a local secret; we have to be one of the first community colleges that comes to mind for a student starting a college search, whether for a transfer degree, professional development or retooling for a new career.
What do you see as SCC’s primary role in the local community?
Our primary role is to provide affordable and clear pathways to a college degree or additional training to people who want to improve their economic standing or their understanding of the world (or both!) We offer a wide range of programs that allow people in our diverse district do just that. Beyond this mission, we are also a major employer for the City of Orange. We also want to be a good partner with surrounding communities we serve and with other non-profits. We have active partnerships with organizations like Orange County CoastKeepers, local Rotary Clubs, the Community Foundation of Orange and local K-12 school districts. We also are increasingly partnering with local universities, including Chapman University and Cal State Fullerton.
In addition, we want to be a vibrant resource and hub for the surrounding neighborhoods and are actively trying to develop ways to bring more people to campus by making our neighbors more aware of programs and events we host that would be of interest to them.
Any new program initiatives you like to share?
The State of California is engaged in a large number of initiatives that we are implementing, including programs that make transitioning to college easier (especially for traditionally under-represented populations), make transferring to four-year colleges easier and more transparent, provide better access to technical career education, and expand non-credit adult education that is designed to teach people necessary life and professional skills. We have recently started an innovative bio-technology certificate program to meet growing demand for people with practical skills in that area.
The physical plant of the college has come a long way since 2000, with Bond Measure E funds adding several new buildings. What’s the next building priority or priorities and the timetable for completion? Challenges to completion?
We’ll never be done; facilities development is an on-going process. But funding under Measure E is nearly finished; the current rehabilitation of the Orange Education Center on Batavia in Orange is the last Measure E project. The next two priority projects in the Facilities Master Plan are a new Student Center and a Performing Arts Center, but funding for these will likely require another local bond measure, in addition to state funding. I’d estimate that it’ll be at least 2020 before we can move forward on these projects.
The college has begun to engage alumni more actively in recent years, in ways very similar to the way four-year colleges do. What roles would you like to see SCC alumni playing at the college?
I hope our alumni will feel a strong connection to Santiago Canyon College. Many times alumni leave here and transfer their loyalty to their four-year transfer college. My hope is that they will proudly broadcast their decision to attend SCC as a smart decision, as well as the place where they got their start, found their passion or got their second chance. We want to be remembered and valued as having played an important role in their lives.
There are lots of roles our alumni can play at SCC. Whether alumni just come back to campus for an athletic event, keep a faculty member up-to-date or get involved by mentoring a student, accepting phone calls from students or joining the alumni network, every contribution matters. Students should keep SCC on their LinkedIn or Facebook profiles once they get into USC, Cal State Fullerton or UCLA. Once a Hawk, always a Hawk. To me, starting out at a high-quality community college like SCC is a smart economic decision. Why rack up loan debt taking two years of breadth requirements at a four-year, when you can achieve the same thing for much less money at SCC?
Where do you see the College in 2030, when it celebrates its 30th anniversary?
Looking into the crystal ball, I see the campus built out as planned, with a student center that will become the hub for student life and a performing arts center that will enrich the local cultural scene. We’ll be surrounded by new neighborhoods to the east that will become part of our community. We’ll continue to serve the diverse student body that we serve now. Our goal is to keep preparing students for an ever-evolving workforce, always with an eye on preparing them smarter and better. If we continue to do that, we can ensure that other local colleges will look to Santiago Canyon College as a role model, and that prospective students will think of SCC first when they start their college search.
Solomon Jones needed a second chance and he thinks he’s getting it at SCC. Growing up in a difficult home environment, he’s dealt with the kind of disruption kids in SCC’s Guardian Scholars support program for emancipated foster youth know all too well. And he responded to his circumstances in a way so many kids do – with a negative attitude and less-than-stellar academic performance.
But buried beneath the bad attitude and low grades was a smart, big thinker with vast potential. This is, after all, the kid who at 13 started his own record label –RaceDeep Records, the goal of which remains to put positive lyrics to Hip Hop music.
“As a child, I went to an Angel’s baseball game where I ended up in the dugout and got a Polaroid photo with one of the players. He must have seen something in me, because he signed the photo “Solomon, go to college!”
Eventually, Solomon started to imagine that he could alter his life’s course. He credits his El Modena High School English teacher, Jason Moeller, for helping him see his potential and planting the idea that a boyhood dream of attending UCLA was not out of reach, despite an underwhelming academic track record.
After coming to SCC to finish his high school diploma, Solomon transitioned into an Associate Arts for Transfer (AAT) program in 2007. There have been a lot of new challenges since then, including a 3-year hiatus working dead-end retail jobs that eventually only bolstered his resolve to go back to SCC. He speaks very highly of all of the dedicated staff and faculty who have offered counseling support, but is especially grateful to Associate Dean of Student Development Loretta Jordan for suggesting he apply for SCC’s Guardian Scholars program and to Diana Casares for introducing him to Associated Student Government (ASG), where he currently serves as Athletics Commissioner. He’s majoring in English in the hopes of following someday in the footsteps of El Modena’s Mr. Moeller: becoming a high school or college English teacher who really cares about students, even the rebellious ones.
Asked about what being an SCC Hawk has meant to him, Solomon expresses a worldly wisdom that would one sooner expect from someone years older: “SCC has given me the chance to change course and work toward my goal of obtaining a 4-year college degree. Building a life – in the long run – is more important than short-term goals like earning money from dead-end jobs to buy a cool car. The sacrifice is worth it. The future is in education.”
When counselor Phil Crabill began working for Santiago Canyon College in 2007, he felt as if he were coming home as he was a member of the college’s first graduating class in 2000.
“I was the first person in my family to go to college so my graduation was a big deal,” he recalls.
From SCC, he transferred to Cal State Fullerton where he earned a B.A. in psychology and an M.S. in counseling. Later, he completed an Ed.D. in counseling psychology at Argosy University.
“I always knew I wanted to teach and counsel at the college level, but didn’t know it would be so rewarding,” he says.
In 2007, Crabill was hired as a part-time counselor for SCC Career Technical Education (CTE) for the grant-funded program, “CTE Teach.” In 2009, he became a part-time program coordinator and assisted with the Middle School Exploration Program. His primary role was to design and deliver career exploration curricula to students in six middle schools in the Orange Unified School District.
In 2011, he turned his attention to counseling STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) students through the Title V-Hispanic Serving Institutions grant program. His mission was to increase student retention and success in core major courses as well as prerequisite courses within the biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics disciplines. He also continued to grow partnerships with local feeder high schools and help high school seniors in the application and matriculation process. In addition, he facilitated STEM-related workshops, including the Pre-Medical Workshop, Education Planning 101 and Careers in Engineering.
In 2013, Crabill was selected as a full-time general counselor/instructor. He is excited to have this opportunity.
“I was a student here; it has always felt like my college home. It is where my own education turned around and got on track. I want to help students not make the same mistakes I did,” he says.
He is enthusiastic about helping all students plan their future. In particular, he has risen to the challenge of serving as a student veteran counselor. It is work that he says he is proud to do to help those who have served and sacrificed for their country. He says he has a lot to learn about veteran benefits and mental health issues that veterans face.
“I am dedicated to student success. You never really know who that shining star student is going to be so you give your very best to every student and hope for the best outcome. I am grateful to my colleagues and am happy to work in this great community college environment,” he says.
Let’s get the story out about Santiago Canyon College. Send in your student, alumni, and faculty success stories, so that we can post them on the blog!