Board of Trustees discuss Educational Master Plan which affects all students


Perla Lara

From left to right Cerritos College Board of Trustee Member Shin Liu, Cerritos College President Jose Fierro, Trustee Zurich Lewis, Trustee Carmen Avalos and Trustee Martha Camacho-Rodriguez looking at a PowerPoint presentation during the Wednesday, Jan. 25 board meeting. The presentation consisted of 92 slides after which the board members were able to ask questions and make suggestions on what other data they wanted to see, like data on the percentage of students that live outside of the cities of Norwalk and Cerritos. Photo credit: Perla Lara

Perla Lara

The Cerritos College Board of Trustees meeting began moving through the agenda items at a fast pace.

The board had no comments from the public, or reports and comments from constituent groups during the time allotted for comments from the audience.

That was to be expected as there were no more than eight people in the audience at the start of the meeting, and three of those were there to present the Cerritos College Master Plan Update, and two others who were there to receive the Perez-Medrano Scholarship.

The meeting took place Wednesday, Jan. 25, where The Perez-Medrano Scholarship was established and given by Cerritos College Board of Trustee member Marisa Perez.

Perez said, “I established the scholarship in 2012 when I got elected to the Board of Trustees in memory of my father who passed away literally two months before I became a college trustee. He was very supportive of me as a female engineer, and me deciding to study in a STEM field. When I got on the board I knew I wanted to do something to support women who have a similar journey [to] the one I had.”

The scholarship recipients for this year were Jessica Haro and Alejandra Robles. They were selected after filling out the Cerritos College Scholarship Foundation application, and going through an interview with Perez.

During the first board of trustee meeting, Perez had a dispute with fellow board member John Paul Drayer that included allegations of harassment from both board members.

Perez said, “I think it’s not just the two of us [herself and Drayer]. There are differences of opinion among many of us [board members]. I think one of the things our board policy is that we need to treat each other with mutual trust and respect even though there are different opinions here… diversity is good, diversity of opinions is good too, it’s just being respectful to others which I think it’s something we all can work on.”

Drayer did not attend this board meeting.

The fast pace came to halt and the following hour and 40 minutes of the meeting was spent listening a 92 slide PowerPoint update on the Cerritos College Master Plan.

The data for the presentation was partially compiled from over 1,000 surveys completed by Cerritos College students.

Student Trustee Karen Patron said, “I like the number of students that participated in the survey I wish there were more, and I’m glad that there are students active in criticizing the college so that we [the college] can become better. Really I think it’s necessary for the students [to be included] in the plan because we only know the struggle”

She also encourages students to participate in the upcoming Cerritos College Educational Master Plan Charrette happening Friday, Feb. 10 from 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. in the Student Center.

“I hope students go to that because that’s really where there [are] going to be multiple students and multiple perspectives to advocate for our [students] struggles so it’s really important that we’re there representing ourselves,” Patron said.

Board Vice President Carmen Avalos saw the data as something that is, “going to offer a lot of variations in terms of content data to be able to make better decisions that will definitely affect our students. I’m excited about that, I think it’s great in terms of these types of plans are very detailed so I think it was broad enough where we get to see the big picture, and defined enough were we’re able to see [what] we are going to need.”

“I talked a little bit about that [during the board meeting] in terms of the eight week or nine week classes, to be able to move [students] faster. So maybe we limit in terms of the total courses for those nine weeks, no more than two or three classes to make it manageable and be able to look at chunking a two-year plan for students.

“I’m excited about those opportunities in terms of what I see in the near future for students. […] There’s a bunch of clay we need to work through make a product that will be buyable, sustainable and then truly impact what we want to see which is students being successful at a quicker rate,” Avalos said.

Perez believes the data presented showed, “a good snapshot of what our strengths are and what our opportunities are.

“I’m looking forward to hearing everybody’s thoughts at the Charrette on Friday, Feb. 10 I think that’s going to be another good opportunity to hear from our students, our faculty, our staff and community members.

“The thing that was most interesting to me was ‘how do we tie the classes that we teach here at Cerritos with what the industry wants?’ I think that thinking at the very big picture, that’s what we’re all hoping to get; a good paying job. That is why we’re all going to college: either we want to transfer to a university, we want to get a certificate or we want to upgrade our skills… I think that’s what is most interesting to me and I’ll definitely be more aware to that as we discuss things as a board. How do we support programs that will get our students good paying jobs?” Perez finished.