Supporting student success is main message in President’s State of the College address

Rafael Magana, Staff Writer

President Dr. Jose Fierro met with students and staff early on October 28th to discuss the current state of the college.

In the address, Fierro spoke on the difficulty of running the college during the COVID-19 pandemic and the strides that they have been taking to better serve the students of the college, and the community around them.

Fierro set the tone for the presentation with one of his opening comments: “What Cerritos College does best is help build runways for Falcons to fly. All Falcons can fly, some just need longer runways”.

Later in the address, he said “We have nearly moved mountains to ensure that students get what they need on time…Commitment to student success has remained strong.”

Despite the majority of classes being taught online, some classes necessitate the need to be on campus and in person, as many of these classes are in service of a skill building profession.

A video was presented which featured interviews with Cerritos College faculty in the Culinary Arts programs and the Dental Hygiene program. Many students testified in the video as well.

The video highlighted some of the precautionary measures that Cerritos College faculty and students are taking to protect themselves from COVID, while still being able to get a hands on education, which is vital for those in these programs.

Students and faculty in the video were subject to precautions taken by the college, which include temperature checks every time students are on campus and enforcing social distancing. Personal protection equipment is also provided for everyone on campus.

Fierro also provided information on how they have been making “data informed decisions that will help students graduate on time.” These decisions are ones that will essentially accelerate the speed at which students will complete their academic programs.

These decisions, dubbed “acceleration models” by Fierro, are in service of helping students graduate faster. One of the major decisions made was the decision to remove college level placement tests.

“If you took that test and you placed three levels below college level math, your chances of graduation are in the low single digits,” Fierro said

He also went on to explain that they are currently providing what he dubbed as “a self-guidance tool” which will help students understand their current level of skill and help select the correct courses for them.

When it comes to English classes, all remedial or developmental classes have been removed, meaning that all students that take classes at Cerritos College will immediately be placed in college level classes.

Tutors will also be provided for students that need help in these courses and are often times embedded into the course itself.

Fierro and the Board of Trustees have also been making conscious efforts to serve the community surrounding the college as well. A survey done by the college in 2019 to gauge the needs of students in the community provided some distressing results.

The results showed that 55% of students faced housing insecurity, 15% of them experienced homelessness, and only 6% of them were given housing assistance.

Some of the efforts made by the college to remedy this included awarding $6 million of the Cerritos Cares fund directly to students that were in need, and providing students with other resources that might be useful to them.

Some of these resources include things such as laptops, hotspots, grocery cards, gas cards, metro passes, and general school supplies.

The 2020 State of the College address is perhaps best summed up by Dr. Fierro himself: “When
we think of Cerritos College, the first thing we think about is community. At
Cerritos College we understand the value of community, and the contribution
that we all make to our communities.”