New student center for Latinx students debuts at Cuyamaca College
EL CAJON – A new student center at Cuyamaca College, designed to serve the needs of Latinx students, has opened its doors.
The facility, known as the “Together We Rise Student Center,” houses popular college programs such as Next Up, Pathway Academy, RISE, and Up. The new center, opened on Oct. 20, serves as a clearing house of information and services for Cuyamaca College students who need assistance with immigration, foster care, and are Latinx first-generation.
“Cuyamaca has built a reputation on going above and beyond for students, however many of them still don’t feel properly represented on campus,” said Veronica Corral, coordinator for the new center. By providing Latinx students with a hub of services that include peer mentoring, counseling, study areas designed for learning and collaboration, a game area for connection and decompression, and free immigration services offered in partnership with Higher Education Legal Services (HELS), Cuyamaca College aims to better serve this important population of students.
The Together We Rise Student Center was created with funds from the Dream Resource Liaison Support Allocation in 2021. This support funding was enabled by California Senate Bill 74 (Budget Act of 2020), which included $5.8 million in local assistance funds to support Dreamer Resource Liaisons and student support services for immigrant and undocumented students in community colleges. The goal of the legislation is to address disparities and advance economic justice by supporting educational attainment, career pathways, and economic mobility for students who may face barriers related to their immigration status.
At Cuyamaca College, the need is great for the new student center. Focus groups with Latinx students have revealed the many challenges they face every day, from mental health issues to homelessness. The new center provides a welcoming environment where students can connect with resources on campus and in the larger community, and ultimately succeed academically. It includes a satellite food pantry, hygiene closet, lockers for students experiencing unmet housing needs, free printing, computers to check out, free school supplies, and a patio area where students can study or relax and student organizations can hold meetings.
“We are confident this is just the beginning of using this space to prepare students for academic life,” said Corral.
“Cuyamaca College is committed to helping every student succeed,” added Dr. Jessica Robinson, MSW, Cuyamaca College’s interim president. “The Together We Rise Center is a safe space for our Latinx students. Their experience and needs extend beyond the classroom, and we will do all we can to support them.”
The grand opening of the Together We Rise Student Center included a ribbon cutting ceremony, followed by a celebration with food, music, and an array of arts and crafts activities.
Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District’s two colleges are Grossmont in El Cajon and Cuyamaca in Rancho San Diego. For information about the college district, go to www.gcccd.edu.