New program ‘Umoja’ aims for student success

New program Umoja aims for student success

Umoja is a Kiswahili word for “unity”.

It is also the name of a new program that hopes to have a place here at Cerritos College.

Umoja is a state wide consortium that is unique to the California Community College system.

It is an academic and student success program, focusing mostly on African American students, but is also welcome to all students.

Dr. Shelia D. Hill, a counselor at Cerritos College, presented at the program’s first meeting.

The program has more than one way of encouraging success, while in other schools small learning communities have worked the program is open to new and different ways to achieve its goals.

“We’re making it Cerritos (College) specific, so you can’t take something that is generic and expect it to work here,” Hill said.

She hopes the program will encourage students to participate and help tailor Umoja to Cerritos specific issues.

“With the student success initiative we’re doing a lot of outreach programs trying to help different pockets of [students on] our campus,” she added.

Carla Yorke, Pathway Programs Facilitator here at Cerritos, attended the meeting.

“We need to see what it really is going to look like once students start being able to participate,” she said.

“We wanted to go to see what they had to offer and where they were in the process. You know, have students signed up?” Yorke added.

Hill will also be overseeing the program here at Cerritos.

Umoja hopes to give students academic, career and personal counseling as well as helping students develop the skills that are necessary for college success.

“Some of the issues are the lack of information about the system of higher education,” Hill said about the issues that might be affecting the black student community here at Cerritos.

She hopes the program will show that transferring is not an insurmountable wall, that there is a way to a higher education.

The Umoja program also plans to have a partnership with the Black Student Union here at Cerritos College.

“We’re here to create avenues of success and partnering with them is just another way to get the word out that we’re here to help them be successful academically,” Hill said.

Umoja will also address identity and cultural issues that biracial or multiracial students face.

Hill also hopes to provide students that athletic with a chance to have a well rounded portfolio for college.

On April 11, the program will host an event in order to encourage more student involvement, location to be announced at a later date.

There will also be a Transfer Pathway workshop, in coordination with CSULB on April 16 and 17 at 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.