guided pathways panel Skyline College was recently invited to participate in a regional discussion surrounding CA Guided Pathways. The California Guided Pathways Project (CAGP) requested the opportunity to hear from Skyline College students and alumni in order to learn more about their transition into and through community college at the Institute #4 – Redesigning Student Intake and Ongoing Student Support on Thursday, September 6, 2018. Athena Mendoza, David Lokotui, Damani Williams, Semaj Payton – all current students – and Steve Marquez (’18) represented Skyline College on the panel.

Moderated by founding partner of higher education consulting firm Sova Solutions, Alison Kadlec, students shared their stories and experiences navigating postsecondary education. Athena and David shared their experience as fall 2017 Promise Scholars, and Damani and Semaj provided insights into their experiences as fall 2018 Promise Scholars. Steve highlighted the beneficial impact of networking as a method of major exploration and discovery. Semaj discussed her previous challenge in staying motived in high school but noted that the warm welcome she received at Skyline College, in addition to the various supports, have encouraged her to stay motivated and on track during her first year. David also expressed concern regarding his educational confidence as he transitioned from high school into college. He credited the Promise Scholars Summer Institute with encouraging him to have a “growth mindset” in order to take advantage of the various opportunities that were available to him at Skyline College. Participating in this panel was one of those opportunities in which he was eager, though nervous, to share his story in order to help colleges identify ways in which they could better support students.

Reflecting on the panel, moderator Alison Kadlec stated:

“The student panel was one of the best I’ve ever been a part of (and I’ve been doing this work for 15 years)! The students were so thoughtful, and poised, some of them overcoming shyness in order to share their perspectives and experiences in eloquent and moving ways. I was especially struck before the panel by how curious and interested the students were about the conference in general, and how clearly important it was for them to represent themselves and their college well. They had clearly put significant thought into the questions provided in advance, and they had powerful things to say about what makes it easier and harder to persist in achieving their goals. The importance of feeling truly valued by faculty and staff, and of having access to the range of supports available at the college came through clearly in their comments, and were good reminders about why we do the work we do. The audience was moved not only by the stories students told about the challenges of balancing work, family responsibilities and school, but also by the way they talked about their determination to reach their goals despite the obstacles. Hearing a student talk about Carol Dweck’s research on ‘growth mindset’ and the personal relevance of that research was a powerful reminder of the difference that college faculty and staff make in the lives of students every day. In hearing participants commenting on the panel afterwards, I believe that all present were inspired, and humbled, by these students. I believe that the audience members listened deeply to the students, and it’s my hope that everyone present came away with an even stronger sense of urgency about the importance of student-focused institutional transformation efforts, and of the role that Guided Pathways reform efforts can play in extending genuine opportunity for success to all students.”

Thank you to the California Guided Pathways Project and Center for Community College Student Engagement for inviting Skyline College students share their stories and experiences to the Institute #4.  The Center for Community College Student Engagement, located at the University of Texas College of Education, is a leading organization for survey research, focus group work, and related services for community and technical colleges interested in improving educational quality through strengthened student engagement and student success.

Article by Lauren Ford | Photo by Alison Kadlec

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