Newsom signs bill to allow San Mateo County residents attend community college for free

The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.

A bill to allow all San Mateo County residents to attend community college here for free was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“It was a team effort and hopefully it will have a great impact for people in our county who may not have otherwise gone to college,” said John Pimentel, a member of the San Mateo County Community College District Board of Trustees, who was one of the main proponents of the legislation.

Under SB 893, crafted by state Sen. Josh Becker, D-San Mateo, with support from Assembly Speaker pro Tem Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, and State Assembly Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto, the state would allow the San Mateo County Community College District to waive a mandatory $46-per-unit enrollment fees for nearly 6,000 San Mateo County residents, allowing those interested in enrolling in classes at one of the community college district’s three campuses to attend for free.

The program is slated to begin immediately after the law goes into effect Jan. 1, in time for the spring semester, Pimentel said.

Students who prove financial need by completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid form or a version of the form for undocumented residents would also be exempt from paying health, student body, student representation, student union, inclusive access and materials fees.

SB 893 would expand on the district’s established efforts to make community college accessible to underserved students through its Promise Scholars Program that offers about 2,000 students districtwide financial, counseling and academic support.

The district’s ‘Promise Scholar Program’ has helped thousands of students facing financial hardships over the years be able to afford a quality community college education, Becker said in a press release, adding that there is now a chance to help every student in the district by shouldering that financial burden for them.

“Attending college is more expensive than ever and students, fresh out of high school, who have worked so hard throughout their academic careers are faced with an enormous financial decision,” Becker said. “Do they take out loans? Do they get another job? Should they live at home longer? Should they go to school at all? This law will let the SMCCCD remove a significant number of roadblocks for these students and make their decision to get a quality education a whole lot easier.”

Enrollment fees to attend community college in the state have not always been a part of the institution’s history, Chancellor Mike Claire and Pimentel noted during an event at Cañada College in Redwood City last week to rally support for the governor to sign the legislation. When they attended community college in the early ’80s, Claire at Cañada College and Pimentel at San Joaquin Delta Community College, neither of them paid enrollment fees, they said.

Determined to get a version of the bill passed, Becker said he and his team decided to create a piece of legislation that was “laser focused” on giving San Mateo County residents the opportunity to attend community college for free without additional state funds or local taxes.

The district has set aside $6 million in the 2022-23 budget for the program’s implementation which is expected to cost about $4.7 million next semester, Dr. Richard Storti, executive vice chancellor for Administrative Services, said during a meeting in late August. San Mateo County supervisors also allocated $2 million toward the effort.

During the summer, district trustees also agreed to waive student health and parking fees and parking permit citations for the 2022-23 school year, saving students between $700,000 and $770,000 combined, according to a press release. That initiative was finalized by the board early this month when it adopted an updated budget in which $2 million was allocated toward offsetting revenue loss from the program.

Biomanufacturing Networking Opportunities for Students

Networking is the process of making connections and building relationships. In the Biomanufacturing program we often stress that these connections can provide students with advice and contacts, which can help them make informed career decisions. Often networking can help students find unadvertised jobs/internships. Networking also breaks up the monotony of lectures and learning, giving students a new way to look at why they are in school. It’s also fun and a way to meet new people and make friends.

As part of the Student Chapter of the Parenteral Drug Association (PDA), Skyline College students were invited to an annual networking/vendor showcase for the West Coast Chapter of the PDA. In this free event, students were able to talk to many professionals in the Biopharma field and get a good idea of what jobs in Risk Management, Quality Control and Project Management really do.

The next Networking event for Biology and Biomanufacturing, will be with the Chinese Bioscience Association on October 8th.   Look for the posters in Building 8 or email Dr. Michael Song (SongM@smccd.edu) for more information.   

Being active in these professional organizations is not only good for one’s career but it is fun and gives students a chance to use the education that they get in their classes.

Article and Photos by Nick Kapp

Latinx Heritage Month

Happy October Trojans! For those of you who didn’t know, Skyline College has been celebrating Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month for the past two weeks. Here is a recap of what you may have missed so far:

Thursday, September 15, 2022 – Vendors, Food, and Giveaways
Kicking off Latinx Heritage Month, we had a celebration in the Quad highlighting Latinx and Hispanic culture by introducing students to street vendors from the mission. There were clothes, jewelry, and tons of art for students to come check out. On top of this, ASSC provided free churros, watermelon agua frescas, horchata, and tons of snacks. Throughout the event, there were several giveaways including a pair of Harry Potter Vans and jewelry from some of the vendors who came by.


Thursday, September 22, 2022 – La Mission Screening
The following week, we screened a movie, La Mission, and gave out churros, popcorn, and tons of candy. The screening was loads of fun and a huge learning experience, showcasing the identity, culture, and traditions of Latinx and Hispanic communities. Further, it reflects on ongoing challenges Latinx and Hispanic communities struggle with, including topics like gentrification.


Thursday, September 29, 2022 – Dia De La Mission
To end September, lowriders and vendors from the Mission District in San Francisco came together in the quad to continue celebrating Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month. The event was filled with music, giveaways, and tons of food, including churros, agua frescas, and horchata. Some of our giveaways included art and jewelry.


Do not worry if you have missed out on these events because we have a ton more coming in celebration of Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month. Here are some dates to look forward to:

Thursday, October 6: Get to Know Menual Alejandro Perez
Thursday, October 13: Closing Day Celebration


This is a busy month which means you will have a lot to look forward to as we start to celebrate Filipinx History Month, LGBTQ+ History Month, and Skyloween all in the month of October. Be sure to check out @skylineassc on Instagram for upcoming events and updates on what’s happening on our campus. Hope to see you at our events, and until then, peace out cool kids.

Article by Eureka | Photos by the Associated Students of Skyline College and Ryan Samn

PTK’s Beta Theta Omicron Chapter – Providing Leadership and Service Opportunities to Students

The Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honors Society is guided by four hallmarks: leadership, scholarship, fellowship, and service. The members of Skylines PTK chapter, Beta Theta Omicron (BΘO), thrive to grow and excel in each of these areas.

September has been a busy month for the BΘO chapter. With the first service event this semester, BΘO, collaborated with the CSM and Cañada College PTK chapters for a beach clean-up on September 17, 2022. Overall, more than 40 students from all 3 colleges came together to clean up the coastal environment at Mussel Rock Beach.

On September 20, 2022, the BΘO chapter held its inaugural college project event – Navigating College. With 23 students in attendance, VP of college project, Laura Dickson, opened the event by sharing some insights about PTK and ongoing chapter projects and programs. After the introduction, Claudia Alejandra Vazquez Ibarra, Learning Commons, took over the stage. She shared insights on how to manage time, communicate with professors, and be successful in college classes as well as on how to find academic support through the learning commons. After a short break, Sharon Meyer, EAC, shared information about the educational access center and its resources and facilities.

Furthermore, the guest speakers covered many tips on how to become a successful student by outlining strategies and steps. The event was closed by BΘO officers Jerry Hnin and Florence Thwe who shared their personal experiences and student journeys at Skyline College.

As the students return to campus this fall, the honors societies of Psi Beta and PTK collaborated for an introductory event on September 21. Students enjoyed pancakes and connected while learning more about the honors societies on campus – the requirements and benefits of membership in Psi Beta and PTK, as well as ongoing projects and programs.

BΘO will be demonstrating its service once again this coming October with its CLICS program (a Computer Literacy and Internet Competency) which has been a continuing project for 5 years. Volunteers will help to teach seniors about basic technology such as typing a text message to their loved ones or using the computer. This program will happen on 4 Saturdays of October (1, 8, 22, 29) from 10 am to 12 pm at the local senior center in South San Francisco.

The BΘO chapter will stay focused on student success and aims to support Skyline students wherever they are on their educational journey. As their next educational event, BΘO will be hosting a scholarship application workshop on October 14, 2022, from 10:00 – 11:00 am at the STEM Center. The workshop will be facilitated by honors counselor Joyce Lee and opening remarks will be provided by VPI Dr. Lopez. The BΘO chapter would like to thank Claudia Alejandra Vazquez Ibarra and Sharon Meyer for participating and supporting the Navigating College event.

PTK’s Beta Theta Omicron Chapter – Providing Leadership and Service Opportunities to students

The Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honors Society is guided by four hallmarks: leadership, scholarship, fellowship, and service. The members of Skylines PTK chapter, Beta Theta Omicron (BΘO), thrive to grow and excel in each of these areas.

September has been a busy month for the BΘO chapter. With the first service event this semester, BΘO, collaborated with the CSM and Cañada College PTK chapters for a beach clean-up on September 17, 2022. Overall, more than 40 students from all 3 colleges came together to clean up the coastal environment at Mussel Rock Beach.

On September 20, 2022, the BΘO chapter held its inaugural college project event – Navigating College. With 23 students in attendance, VP of college project, Laura Dickson, opened the event by sharing some insights about PTK and ongoing chapter projects and programs. After the introduction, Claudia Alejandra Vazquez Ibarra, Learning Commons, took over the stage. She shared insights on how to manage time, communicate with professors, and be successful in college classes as well as on how to find academic support through the learning commons. After a short break, Sharon Meyer, EAC, shared information about the educational access center and its resources and facilities.

Furthermore, the guest speakers covered many tips on how to become a successful student by outlining strategies and steps. The event was closed by BΘO officers Jerry Hnin and Florence Thwe who shared their personal experiences and student journeys at Skyline College.

As the students return to campus this fall, the honors societies of Psi Beta and PTK collaborated for an introductory event on September 21. Students enjoyed pancakes and connected while learning more about the honors societies on campus – the requirements and benefits of membership in Psi Beta and PTK, as well as ongoing projects and programs.

BΘO will be demonstrating its service once again this coming October with its CLICS program (a Computer Literacy and Internet Competency) which has been a continuing project for 5 years. Volunteers will help to teach seniors about basic technology such as typing a text message to their loved ones or using the computer. This program will happen on 4 Saturdays of October (1, 8, 22, 29) from 10 am to 12 pm at the local senior center in South San Francisco.

The BΘO chapter will stay focused on student success and aims to support Skyline students wherever they are on their educational journey. As their next educational event, BΘO will be hosting a scholarship application workshop on October 14, 2022, from 10:00 – 11:00 am at the STEM Center. The workshop will be facilitated by honors counselor Joyce Lee and opening remarks will be provided by VPI Dr. Lopez. The BΘO chapter would like to thank Claudia Alejandra Vazquez Ibarra and Sharon Meyer for participating and supporting the Navigating College event.

Everybody has a Story. What’s Yours? Join us for The Human Library on October 20

Skyline College Library is excited to present our 6th annual series of Human Library events. Our Fall event will be virtual and take place Thursday, October 20 from 2:00-3:30 p.m.

What’s The Human Library? 

At the Human Library, an interactive zoom session organized by Skyline College Library, “human books” — in the form of Skyline College students, faculty, staff and community members — are “loaned out” to readers just as libraries loan physical books to library patrons. Each reader selects or “checks out” a human book and the two engage in meaningful one-on-one conversations in the comfort of a Zoom breakout room for about 15 to 25 minutes. 

The Human Library presents a learning experience that challenges stigmas and stereotypes through the art of open and honest one-on-one conversations. It is a safe space where strangers can discuss challenging or difficult topics openly and without condemnation.

Students: Would you like to share your story as a human book? Please fill out this interest form today and a staff member will be in touch shortly! bit.ly/BeABook

Questions? Please visit our website for more information: guides.skylinecollege.edu/TheHumanLibrary or contact Pia Walawalkar <walawalkars@smccd.edu> for more information.

Registration information will be posted soon. We look forward to seeing you at The Human Library!  -The Library Staff 

Article by Jessica Silver-Sharp

How Can College Libraries Contribute to Using a Global, DEIA, and/or Social Justice Lens in Education?

That’s the question your library faculty and staff continue to explore this Fall, not only by acquiring new DEI resources for our community and offering social justice focused events, but also in their work outside of the Library. 

“How can college libraries contribute to using a global/DEIA and/or social justice lens” is also the title of a focused discussion at this Friday’s Stanford University Global Education Network 9/23 zoom meet up where Skyline College Associate Professor and Outreach & Equity Librarian Sanjyot (Pia) Walawalkar is one of the featured speakers. Through her recent work to focus research and educational practice on critical information literacy and global citizenship, Walawalkar will frame an inquiry into how campus libraries contribute to using a global lens in education through social justice and diversity, equity, inclusion, anti-racism (DEIA) programs, services, or curriculum.

Library Support Specialist Lori Lisowski recently served on a state-wide Library Services Platform (LSP) Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force.  Lisowski was one of the team leaders who coordinated efforts to draft a statement and pledge for the more than 110 California community colleges participating in the LSP.  The statement says in part:

“We acknowledge that our libraries are not neutral and may have served–sometimes inadvertently and other times intentionally–as instruments of exclusion, colonialism, and assimilation. We commit to implementing policies and taking concrete steps, large and small, to undo this harm and lead to systemic changes.”

As a result of the Task Force’s recommendations, the LSP Governance Committee created a permanent work group to spearhead implementation of additional measures, including addressing potentially harmful language in libraries’ online catalogs and making resources by and for historically marginalized populations more accessible. 

Library Collections & Upcoming Programs

If you’re not aware, the Library is in its second year of offering two library research databases important for DEI research and education. Any members of our community can log in (use your OneLogin credentials) to use these resources for free. 

Ethnic Newswatch is an interdisciplinary, bilingual (English and Spanish), full-text database of the newspapers, magazines and journals of the ethnic, minority and native presses, designed to provide the “other side of the story.” Articles in this database are useful for students in disciplines like anthropology, communications, business, fashion, government, history, sociology, education and more, and especially for assignments comparing and contrasting news perspectives.

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) e-book database contains e-books in the areas of Asian American Studies, Women’s Studies, Black Studies, Latino Studies and much more. This database was developed to represent all voices with a focus on gender, race, sexual orientation, physical ability and religious beliefs. The “DEI” database has thousands of timely books you can include in your syllabi or embed in Canvas for easy access. If you’re retooling your reading lists, it’s definitely worth your time to explore this new resource.

The Kanopy film database also has rich holdings you can assign to students, stream in class, or watch on your own. Some examples include I am not your Negro, The Farewell, Trust Me, and Misrepresentation. Last but not least, the Library has three upcoming programs planned for Fall, focused on free speech and voices less heard. You can find all the details in last week’s Skyline Shines article and from the Library’s calendar page. We look forward to seeing you in the Library (Building 5, 2nd floor) on Thursday, September 29 at 2pm for Writers Under Attack: Salman Rushdie, Banned Books and Freedom of Expression. All are welcome!

Article by Jessica Silver-Sharp

TLC/STEM Rock First Collaborative Student Training!

Last Friday, September 16th, over 50 student leaders and staff from the Learning Center, STEM Center, and Library participated in a collaborative professional development opportunity. This training introduced student employees to programs and resources available across campus while focusing on the benefit of making meaningful connections with each other and with the students that we serve. Student employees learned about the importance of using warm referrals to connect students with resources: one of the commitments in Skyline’s Caring Campus Initiative. This was a fun opportunity for student staff from the different areas to meet, share knowledge, and connect. We are looking forward to our next group training in October!

A Summer of Biotech Leads to Work in the Fall

Skyline College Biomanufacturing hosted a Bioscope Grant-funded COOP class full of high school students for eight days in June 2022. The Students completed training in operating biotechnology equipment and techniques that will help them shine in the workforce. They produced media plates for growing bacteria, which aided them in learning GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices), sterility during production, and quality control.

In addition to the summer COOP, Skyline College hosted students from around the country who attended the National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC), another summer program that introduced students to biotechnology. The NSLC rented the Biology labs from Skyline College and hired over 70 students to help run the labs – an exciting experience for all of them.  In addition to developing leadership skills as technicians, students were able to develop support skills as well, proud to have been able to introduce other students to the program and give them a positive impression of Skyline College. 

The Biomanufacturing program is also off to an exciting start this fall. As part of the Bioscope grant, students manufactured products as varied as root beer and bacteria cultures for Microbiology classes as well as prepared slides and YM agar plates suitable for the growth of yeast to be used during the research project their Biology majors class. Students had fun sampling certain parts of their skin and growing the sample on their media plate which they then examined under the microscope by creating gram stains and using laboratory equipment, allowing them to see the different types of organisms that live on fingers, arms, and noses.

To learn more about the Biomanufacturing program and the Biomanufacturing Club, all are invited to attend meetings every Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. where students find a supportive community and an amazing program that sets them up for success.

Article by Khaledh Tahan and Kevin Recinos Gonzalez, Student Project Coordinators for the Bioscope Grant in Biomanufacturing at Skyline College.

The Bioscope Grant is meant to give students the opportunity to get real work experience in classrooms.

Welcome New Transfer Center Faculty Coordinator – Alexandra Kaplan

Welcome Alex to the Skyline College Team! Alexandra Kaplan earned her MS in Counseling (College and Career) from San Francisco State University and BA in Human Biology from Stanford University.

As the new Counselor/Faculty Coordinator for the Transfer Center, Alex brings over 10 years of experience in education, including work in the K-12 system, four-year public and private universities, private sector, and six years as a California community college counselor, most recently as a full-time counselor at City College of San Francisco. She has served as an adjunct counselor at Skyline College since 2016 in both academic and career counseling roles.

In her free time, Alex enjoys traveling, spending time with family and loved ones, culinary adventures, cheering on her favorite sports teams, and spending time outdoors. She looks forward to joining the Skyline College community full-time and working to support our students toward their transfer goals!