At Cosumnes River College, the MESA program provides math, engineering, and science academic development to underrepresented community college students. The goal is to help them excel academically and transfer to four-year institutions as science, engineering, and math majors. This support is crucial in helping students from low-performing high schools reach their academic potential and become technical professionals.
Thanks to generous donors, the MESA Program received a mini-grant from the Los Rios Colleges Foundation to help them attend the Student Leadership Retreat (SLR). The SLR is chance for community college students to interact, network, and build leadership skills with other MESA students. This leadership and skill-building conference features hands-on STEM sessions, including chemistry study, engineering design, and coding.
CRC student Jun Li says, "The MESA Student Leadership Retreat provided us a platform to expand our network beyond just our own community. I befriended students all over California. We collaborated to solve problems and learned about interesting subjects that we would otherwise not be able to learn. But most importantly, my fellow MESA members shared stories that resonated with my experience and motivated me to be a better leader."
How did you choose your major at CRC?
I was incarcerated at 16 years old, and when I was released, I looked forward to getting out and seeing what the world had to offer. I had desires for other majors prior to my release, but was redirected after experiencing the harsh reality of possessing a criminal record in the workforce. So, I chose business as my major because it gave me the chance to create opportunities for myself that others insist I don’t deserve.
What has been your experience at CRC?
I find CRC very welcoming. Many of my professors have help motivate me and have influenced me to grab every opportunity I can. I have plans of being the first in my family to graduate college and hope to create my own business and provide jobs for struggling youth and adults.
Why is pursuing an education important to your future?
I refuse to let any circumstance that I’ve endured get in the way of my happiness,” Dena added. “The fact that I’m not where I could be is more reason to take advantage of every opportunity that I once believed I’d never receive.
What lead you to choose CRC?
I chose CRC because it offers a degree in my specific field.
I am 21 years old, and I decided to give my college education a second try. Originally, attended a four year university in my home state, Mississippi, straight out of high school. I changed my major several times until I realized I had to find a school with classes I felt engaged in. I needed to tap into my passions for video creation and media communication, so I moved to California to give myself more opportunities.
Seeing my interests in the arts, my sister recommended I check out CRC’s website, and that’s where I found Radio, TV, & Film Production. I was surprised to find it covers all of the areas I’m interested in.
I chose CRC, because it offers a degree specifically tailored to all of the things I love to do!
What advice do you have for current, future, and returning students?
My advice is that no matter where you come from or what struggles you have faced in life, it is possible to chase your dreams. It is never too late to return to college and better your education.
I found the perfect program for me. CRC’s Radio, TV, Film Production is 100% something I’ve always wanted to do—I just didn’t always know it existed. It has literally changed my life. I get to learn in the classroom and at my job on campus, exactly what I need to know in order to obtain a job in my desired field. And I am learning those skills at industry standard. And that’s one of my favorite things about CRC. We have such a broad range of majors and degree programs available to students here. There is really something for everyone.
If you have the desire and dedication to make your dreams come true and to secure your future, the right opportunities will open up to you.
What have been key motivating factors in your life to pursue your goals?
Maintaining my happiness has been the main motivation for pursuing my goals. I want to feel fulfilled in my career and know that I am successful in something I am passionate about. I truly believe education is the way to success and that helps me stay motivated each and every day.
I am also driven by the desire to put myself in a position where I can make a difference. I want to bring awareness to people’s opportunities, especially in the arts. I want to make opportunities in the arts available on a broader spectrum, because it was something that was not available to me in my previous education.
I struggled a lot in my past, and I want to be able to make a difference for others in the futures.
What has been the key motivating factor or factors in your life to pursue your goal(s)?
I wanted financial independence and to have a career that will last me the rest of my life. I also wanted a career that was challenging and that I would be making a difference in the world. Wierzbicki says he’s inspired by, “All of the anonymous people who push through adversities because they don't allow any obstacles to write their life stories.”
How do you think CRC prepared you for your future?
My major was Information Systems Assurance. I was attracted to the cybersecurity aspect of computer science because of political events happening all around the world centered around information warfare and cyber-crime. The various courses offered allowed me to test the waters of what interested me. I was able to pinpoint which direction I wanted to take in my new career.
Cosumnes River College classes were affordable. The staff seemed to enjoy their jobs and take their students seriously. I always felt safe on campus.
What advice do you have for students and future students?
I graduated from University of San Francisco in 2005 with a BA in Media Studies. After graduating, I worked in commercial real estate and insurance for ten years. I decided to go back to school to explore my passion of computer science and technology.
It is never too late to change your career path. I went back to school and started my new career in my mid-thirties.
Evelina Rybin is one of the lucky ones. Even in high school, she knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life. Evelina was going to go to American River College (ARC) and become a paramedic. She knew but didn’t care that college was going to be hard – but what she didn’t anticipate was a predisposition against community colleges coming from (of all people) a high school teacher, and a bias against her career choice harbored by her family and friends.
Yet, Evelina persevered. She enrolled at ARC after finishing high school and went to work on her prerequisite courses. But one of the preconditions for the ARC paramedicine program is a year of first-responder field experience as an emergency medical technician. Undeterred, Evelina found an EMT internship class that sent her to a few Cosumnes Fire Department stations. At the fire stations, Evelyn learned all about a fire internship offered at Los Rios’ Cosumnes River College. She took a fire technology class and was hooked!
Evelina is planning to graduate with an associate degree in paramedicine, one in fire technology, and another one in foreign language studies. She hopes to get hired at a local fire department, and she wants to pursue a bachelor's degree in fire science; maybe even a master's. While fighting fires, Evelina envisions teaching fire tech for the Los Rios Community College District, a place where she found shared passion, friendship, and a place to belong.
The doubters in Evelina’s life who disapproved of her choices have come around to accept Evelina’s determination to follow her passion, and are even proud of her accomplishments. And to the high school teacher who snubbed community college? Tell your students there are options for everyone at Los Rios, so they should enroll in classes, find an interest, and follow their hearts – Just like Evelina did.
What do you believe makes CRC special?
To me, CRC feels like home, and the community feels like my extended family. So, for me, the supportive environment cultivated by all the people here, from those in leadership positions to the each and every student, is what makes CRC special.
What do you hope for your students?
What I hope for my students is that by taking my class, they get closer to achieving their goals. If they do this simply by satisfying a requirement for a degree or for transfer (or whatever), that's fine. And I hope that, in addition to meeting their goals, my students learn critical thinking skills that can help them to effectively make decisions that will promote their success. For me, taking a class in philosophy here at CRC is what thrust me onto a path that allows me to flourish—this is what I hope my classes will do for my students.
What do you want students to know about the community at CRC?
I want students to know that the community at CRC is invested in them succeeding and is prepared to do whatever it can to promote their success. But what I most want students to know, is something about themselves—I want them to know they have what it takes to succeed, and the CRC community is a resource to help them do just that.
What advice would you give to a new college student?
This is an investment in yourself. So, really invest in yourself while you’re here. Put that time in. Put that time in to studying. Put that time to going out and networking—networking is huge.
And when you find faculty you connect with, they can help you with networking to get that job you want. They can help you get that internship or be a reference for you. So, just be out there and know that everyone here has been through this, or is currently going through this process.
So be that person that asks one question. One question can lead you into meeting a counselor, a great mentorship, or something you hadn’t thought of that can help you get to your goal.
What's something you want people to know about Kinesiology?
I want people to know there’re so many different avenues you can choose in Kinesiology—it isn’t just sports. Studying Kinesiology at CRC, you’ll start to see all of these different paths you can take. And what’s great is that at CRC we even offer a class where students get to learn all the sub-disciplines you’ll be using as a kinesiologist.
You can begin to see what you would enjoy and what you wouldn’t. So in taking different courses we offer,
What’s something you want people to know about CRC?
One thing that I want everyone to know is that CRC cares. Our faculty, our administration, and our classified staff all care. That’s the biggest point I would love everyone to know. If you’re someone who’s thinking about coming to Cosumnes River College, or you’re someone who’s already here, I want you to know there are so many resources here for you. We’re all here putting these resources putting these resources out just so you can have the best experience and find the best way to get to your goal. And we care about you as an individual.
What do you think stands out CRC?
CRC is very welcoming. The very first time I stepped on campus, which was in 1999, I felt welcomed here immediately. And that’s something special about CRC.
I think CRC is special because we focus on our students. Here we make the students the top priority. Every decision that is made here at CRC is made with the students in mind. How many classes we’re going to schedule, or what time or where—every decision that I make as an instructor, is for the students.
What intrigues you most about teaching math?
What draws me to math is that it’s very objective. And for me, as a mathematician, I think math is in everything. It’s in business. It’s in science. It’s in nature.
My favorite stories are of former students who reach out years later to let me know that because of taking my classes, it gives them more confidence in life. And from there that they just have the drive to go out and get the jobs they want. My advice is to gain the skills you need here so you can get whatever it is you want in life.
What advice do you have for new and future students at CRC?
I really just hope that CRC students get what they came for. Whether that would be a degree, or a certificate, or to transfer. Taking these classes can give you the skills to do the job you want.
My advice would be mostly to just keep going and don’t give up. I encourage students to stick with it.
What advice would you give to a new college student?
Make up in your mind that you will not give up. No matter how challenging, no matter the obstacles you may face, do not give up. This is a life lesson as well. A graduate of Valley High School, James chose to attend CRC, where he played basketball. After receiving his A.A. degree, he attended the University of West Georgia on a full athletic scholarship. James is now back at CRC where he inspires student athletes to achieve whatever goals they may have. Understand that you have support here at CRC, we have an abundance of resources available for our students, and faculty and staff that are eager to help and mentor our students.
What's the favorite aspect of Kinesiology as a discipline?
Being a sports guy and former student athlete, to now teaching Kinesiology and working as the Head Coach for Men’s Basketball, I have come full circle. I have always being intrigued with the human body and how it functions. Essentially that is kinesiology. Our department and discipline can lead to many different and interesting professions within the larger field.
What is unique about CRC’s Kinesiology and sports programs?
Our kinesiology and sports programs are unique because a majority of our student-athletes desire to be in the kinesiology and health professions. We do an exceptional job of creating opportunities and mentorships for not only our immediate student-athletes, but the general student body as well.
What advice would you give to a new college student?
One thing that I want my students to walk away with in their experience with music at CRC is growth in confidence and community. I want them to grow in confidence with their music and with learning about themselves. And I also want them to be mindful of learning about community. I want students to know that they are the future of their industry—working together with new people means that they will have new friends and new colleagues for the rest of their lives.
What's your favorite aspect of music as a discipline?
My favorite aspect about the arts is that it really is this sort of place where students from all backgrounds come to share their own personal stories. Artists are story tellers. And every single student has a story to tell. They have something that they can offer to other students, to the world. And the arts really help us delve into those subjects and find the best way to communicate.
What is unique about CRC’s Music program?
This is a really incredible place for new possibility. A lot of our students come from this region and beyond and they’re not really sure what the possibilities are for them. They’re not sure how they fit in finding a career in the arts or finding a career anywhere. And I think that CRC really provides an intimate educational setting in a way that students can really work with their professors to really pursue those dreams in ways that they might get lost in other campuses. We are a family here at CRC.
What’s unique about CRC’s Nutrition program?
Our Nutrition program is great, because our students get a fuller experience by working with other departments. For example, we partner with our Horticulture program, so that we can provide the students with food that’s grown and processed from the ground—students are able to experience eating the food that they harvest.
Having the ability and flexibility of doing collaborative work with other departments, both inside and outside of the classroom, is really wonderful. I think the students definitely benefit and they can begin to see many avenues with a start in college with a degree in Nutrition.
What's your favorite aspect of teaching Nutrition?
What I love about teaching nutrition, is the opportunity to see the light bulb turn on as I share all this new information with them. I love to see the transformation in their thinking as they gain the ability to decipher fiction from actual facts. They develop the ability to critically analyze what is based on science and what is more for a profit.
So, being able to help my students learn to decipher fact from fiction is really enlightening for them and rewarding for me as an instructor.
What do you wish for your students?
So, what I wish and what I would actually recommend for my students is that they make a connection. I think if they are able to make a connection with a faculty member, a fellow student, or with a student club, then they now feel like they belong. They can feel and know that we want them here and we want them to feel welcome.
I encourage students to remember we are all here to help them. We have all of these resources available for our students, and I really want them to take advantage of these opportunities so they can make these important connections.