|College Will Accept $100,000 Donation for President's Scholars Program|
West Hills College Lemoore President Don Warkentin will join officials from Educational Employees Credit Union (EECU) at the Hanford Branch on
Wednesday, June 19, at 11 a.m. to accept a $100,000 donation to President’s Scholars, a unique program at the college that pays full tuition and reimburses book costs to outstanding local area high school graduates.
The number of President’ Scholars is growing rapidly as area high school seniors and their parents discover that the scholarship pays all tuition costs plus $250 a semester towards the cost of books. It also includes priority registration for the students, which means they can get the classes they need to graduate or transfer in two years to a four-year college.
The scholarship is offered by the West Hills Community College District at its two area colleges in Coalinga and Lemoore. Those who achieve a 3.5 Grade Point Average and complete a college educational plan are eligible to apply. There is currently no limit to the number of scholarships available. It has a value of almost $2,000 per year for a full time student, which means those able to live at home get the first two years of a college education at almost no cost.
“We are pleased to be able to make this investment in our area high school students’ education,” said Jim Huff, Marketing Director at EECU. “These are not only tomorrow’s citizens and workers, but the leaders of our community. With the support of President’s Scholars, students who work hard in high school and earn good grades get a chance to get a college degree, which they otherwise might not be able to afford.” EECU’s a contribution to the scholarship program is for $20,000 a year for five consecutive years. That would put 50 local students through the first two years of college.
The President’s Scholars program is experiencing astronomical popularity and much of the growth is coming from high school graduates from Hanford, according to Frances Squire, Executive Director of the WHCC Foundation. “This coming fall, with enrollments still coming in, it looks like we’ll be over 100. At least a third of them are high school graduates from Hanford. So far, 37 of them have applied.” In 2012-13, the last year for which numbers were available, 56 students were President’s Scholars, just 10 of them from Hanford or Armona.
Squire said the word is spreading as an increasing number of seniors graduating from Hanford area high schools attend West Hills College in Lemoore. “At our recent graduation exercises, 163 of the 386 West Hills College Lemoore grads were from Hanford or Armona.
The number of students coming to WHCL from Hanford has been on the rise in recent years. Last year, 30.4 percent -- or 1,822 of the 5,989 students attending WHC Lemoore -- were from Hanford.”
Since the program began in 1996, more than 500 students from Kings and Fresno counties have been named President’s Scholars.
EECU is the 67th largest Credit union in the U.S., and the 13th largest in California, with deposits of more than $2 billion and branches throughout Fresno and Kings County and the Central Valley.
|Love, Support of Others, Hard Work, All Lead to College Degree|
The new president of West Hills College Coalinga told 170 graduates seated in the WHCC gym that they were there because of a combination of perseverance and hard work and the people in their lives who also sacrificed and showered them with love and support.
“For each person who will walk across this stage, there is someone sitting nearby who has stood by you, encouraged you, was there for you, so you could be successful,” said Dr. Carole Goldsmith. “There was someone who made a sacrifice for you, offered a kind word, cared for a child, helped you study, cooked dinner. It’s these small and big acts of love and support that enabled you to keep moving, one step at a time, and overcome obstacles which surely you encountered on the way.”
The gymnasium was completely full on Friday night (May 24) and some 300 people were seated in the nearby campus theater, which featured a live streaming video of the ceremony on screen. In addition, some 400 views were recorded of the live stream on the college website.
College Trustee Edna Ivans was notably absent from the proceedings. She was ill and under doctor’s orders to stay in, but Mrs. Ivans, who is the state’s longest-serving community college trustee – having been on the board since 1967– hadn’t missed a commencement in 46 years! She wasn’t about to miss this one. Goldsmith asked the audience to join in wishing her a speedy recovery and the trustee heard the applause; she was at home, watching the live feed on her computer.
During the 90-minute program, two men were honored as Alumni of the Year. Aaron (Class of ’93) and Colin Forth (’89) were both active in student government and athletics when they were at WHCC. Both went on to graduate from UC Berkeley and both have enjoyed success in Silicon Valley ventures.
The Forths and their families were honored at a pre-commencement reception on campus. Don and Mary Forth, their parents, were present. They are former long-time faculty members (Don still teaches online courses as an adjunct faculty member) and avid college supporters. The Forth brothers spoke briefly and told graduates they were encouraged by their parents to attend WHCC and that their time at West Hills was well spent and prepared them well for transferring to a prestigious four-year university.
Aaron Forth joined Kana Communications after graduating from UC Berkeley, a start-up whose clients included eBay and Ford), then went to another start-up, Half.com, which was later acquired by eBay, after which he held several leadership positions with the new company and was responsible for strategy, design and product development. He joined Mint.com, a start-up that grew dramatically before being acquired by Intuit. He stayed on for three years and became VP and General Manager of Personal Finance. He is now COO of Wrapp, a new start-up venture, based in San Francisco.
Colin Forth got a Master’s in Regional Planning degree from Cornell after graduating from UC Berkeley. He is now Vice President Services, EMEA, for Workday, a London based firm. He works out of the U.S. office in Pleasanton, where he is responsible for execution of professional services and customer satisfaction processes. He’s held several leadership positions with the company since 2008, and was formerly Program Manager at Oracle for nearly five years.
A pair of student government leaders also spoke to the graduates. Efrain Iniquez is student body president at WHCC. He was followed by his counterpart from NDC, Esmeralda Ponce. Both have plans to pursue higher education and are excellent ambassadors for West Hills College, according to Goldsmith. The student commencement speaker was another student, Kaleo Lopez, the product of a unique torch-passing: His mother was the commencement speaker when she graduated from WHCC.
Goldsmith said the college, including the North District Center (NDC) in Firebaugh and a strong distance learning program online, awarded 500 Certificates of Achievements and Degrees this year. In her speech, she paid tribute to students who were the first in their families to finish college, who persevered to learn English in order to complete their degree, and who came from far away to learn at WHCC.
She mentioned Jason Herrera, who works at the WHCC Farm of the Future, and Brandon Cannaday, who just received his Associate Degree in the Psychiatric Technician Program, as examples of first-in-their-family graduates. She cited Lydia Arredondo’s perseverance for starting college in 2009 by enrolling in English as a Second Language classes and taking four years to get a two-year degree because she had to master English as she went. “She didn’t give up,” Goldsmith said. “She had to take an English class every semester until she completed the requirements for a degree, all because she wants a better life for her family.”
Some graduates traveled from a long way to attend college in Coalinga. Michael Balogun from Staten Island, New York played basketball for the Falcons and will transfer and play basketball at Southern Illinois University. Roman Fetuao is from American Samoa. Cornelius Fitiausi is from Hawaii. Both were on the Falcons football team and both men’s parents were present for graduation.
Vivien Ip is from Hong Kong and Yasuyo Nagase is from Japan. Both earned degrees and are transferring to CSU Fresno, where Ip was accepted by the Department of Kinesiology into the unique Athletic Training Program which is known for its highly competitive entrance requirements.
|Students from Throughout Kings County Honored at WHCL Commencement|
A crowd of 2,500 attended commencement exercises at the Golden Eagle Arena in Lemoore as 386 graduates were honored by West Hills College Lemoore.
The graduates were largely from Kings County. President Don Warkentin said 163 live in Hanford or Armona, and 151 reside in Lemoore. The rest are from towns within the college service area: Avenal, Corcoran, Riverdale, Stratford, Huron, and others. Fresno, Visalia, Tulare, Selma, Reedley, Morro Bay and other California cities were also represented.
The students received Associate of Art or Associate of Science degrees, or Certificates of Achievement.
There 40 nursing students among the graduates, men and women who finished rigorous two year course and qualified to take the state exam this summer to become registered nurses.
Warkentin asked three students to stand and be recognized for their unique achievement. They were graduating from college one day prior to their graduation from Lemoore Middle College High School, a charter school affiliated with the college. Seth Todd, Tabitha Culpepper and Samuel Benavidez got their Associate Degree one day prior to receiving their high school diploma. All three are transferring to four-year colleges.
Will Skylar and his mother, Amy Pfar, graduated from college at the same time. Three students graduated with a 4.0 grade point average: Alexis Capano, Reilly Reis, and Kelsey Hill. Another 69 achieved a GPA of 3.5 or higher. Noel and Milton Pimentel are cousins, both graduating at the same time. The oldest graduate is 61, the youngest just 18. Tom Clutton was the graduate who traveled the greatest distance to attend college here; he is from Shropshire, England. Warkentin noted that 63 percent of the graduates are female. Two student athletes, siblings Tom and Danielle Penuna, graduated and are transferring to different parts of the country to continue in their respective sports.
There were 24 veterans graduating at the May 23 event. Two are on active duty with the Navy at nearby Naval Air Station Lemoore. Six are Navy dependents.
Warkentin said the college, just 10 years old, is doing well, adding classes and staff and growing. “We awarded over $100,000 in scholarships to our students at our recent honors reception,” he said. “At our Eagle Dayz event, we saw over 400 area high school seniors come to campus to complete their admissions requirements. Most of them are from Hanford or Lemoore.”
|WHCC Campus Hosts 50 Eighth Graders for Paramount Summer Academy|
West Hills College Coalinga is hosting 50 eighth-grade students from Avenal and Kettleman City for the next two weeks. They’ll live in the campus dorms, eat at the college dining hall, and attend classes at the WHCC Farm of the Future to expose them to a variety of career opportunities in the agriculture industry.
It’s all part of a unique Summer Academy program co-sponsored by the college and Paramount Farms, one of the region’s largest growers.
The students will return home for the weekend and come back on Monday, June 24 for their final week of Summer Academy.
The program is designed to introduce students to the college atmosphere and to show them the wide variety of agricultural jobs that are above and beyond field work and give them a window into regional career opportunities and the required educational pathway for these careers. Many of the students are from farm worker families.
In addition to classes introducing welding, computer assisted drawing (CAD), welding, power tools, surveying and the use of GPS to collect geographical location information, the students will engage in physical activities such as dance, swimming , soccer, basketball and daily exercise. They’ll have the use of the gym and the new college fitness center. Other learning opportunities will focus on group projects, career exploration, and learning events such as an Entomology Hunt where students will be taught basic plant and insect taxonomy.
A field trip to Paramount Farms at Lost Hills is scheduled before the students recess for the weekend. Guest speakers during the two-week program will include several Paramount employees who will share information about their jobs and careers with the students.
The students will be fully supervised by WHCC instructors, counselors and staff during their stay. They were welcomed on Monday (June 17), given room assignments and a review of the code of conduct, and were issued student identification cards
Evenings will be devoted to after-dinner events such as games and movies.
Paramount Farms owns and operates 70,000 acres of orchards in the fertile San Joaquin Valley in central California and is part of Roll Global with corporate offices in Los Angeles and operations throughout the world. Owned by Stewart and Lynda Resnick, the couple is known for philanthropic works that support their passion for doing good, particularly in the Central Valley where they have thousands of employees.
For more information about the Summer Academy, contact Zack Soto, WHCC Program Coordinator, at (559) 999-0674.
|Fresno Pacific University Liberal Arts Evening Program at WHCL|
Complete your BA through Fresno Pacific University’s Liberal Arts evening program – at West Hills College- Lemoore! Classes are forming for August 2013. It’s not too late to apply, and financial aid is still available. Classes meet one night/week for 18 months. To qualify, you need 60+ transferrable units and at least a 2.4 GPA. To schedule an appointment with a FPU admissions advisor at WHC, contact: Sylvia.Moreno@fresno.edu, or call 302-4100.
|Head Football Coach Role Suits Mark Gritton, Who's Held the Job Before|
The first thing Mark Gritton plans to do as newly appointed Head Football Coach at West Hills College Coalinga, is “establish a set of expectations for student athletes so they are equipped with tools to move on the next level, both educationally and athletically, so they can be successful in life,” said Gritton, Associate Dean of Students at WHCC, where he has also served as Athletic Director and was the former head football coach for 12 years.
The President of WHCC appointed Gritton to be the new football coach at the end of the spring semester. “He has accepted the challenge,” said Dr. Carole Goldsmith. “I’m very pleased.”
Gritton has years of experience as a coach and played football at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, and then as a transfer student at Humboldt State CSU Humboldt, in Arcata) where he also coached as a student assistant and graduate assistant. He coached football for two seasons at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, where his combined record was 19-3, and also was the Men’s Swim Coach for one season. Gritton spent six years in the Midwest as Defensive Coordinator at Wayne State College, in Wayne, Nebraska before being hired as head football coach at West Hills College in 1996. In 12 seasons he posted numerous records including most wins and most post-season bowl appearances in school history. His team won the Conference Championship in 1999.
“The record I’m most proud of,” he said, “is that for 11 straight years our team had one or more student athletes named to the Academic All American Team.” Gritton was named Athletic Director in 2008. In 2011 he was named the Associate Dean of Student Services/Director of Athletics, Health and PE.
Dr. Goldsmith said Gritton will continue in his current position although several administrators may take on some additional responsibilities to free up the coach’s time.
Gritton said the next steps are “to determine a staff and then recruit, recruit, recruit. I’m excited.”
The coach been involved in several campus committees and also serves as one of three commanders on the college’s Incident Command Response Team.
Gritton is deeply embedded and involved the Coalinga community, where he volunteers his time with various community projects and outreach functions as well as serving as a board member for the Coalinga Regional Medical Center and the Coalinga Area Chamber of Commerce. In 2008, the chamber named him Educator of the Year.
|WHCL Fitness Center Announces Summer Hours|
The Fitness Center at the Golden Eagle Arena at West Hills College Lemoore will be open this summer for nine weeks, but only on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, from June 4 through Aug. 1.
The limited hours are: 6 to 8 a.m.; Noon to 1 p.m.; and 5 to 8 p.m.
The cost is $20 for the nine week session is just $20. The fee is the same for everyone: employees, faculty, students, community members. Check in at the gym or go to the web for more information: westhillscollege.com
The state of the art facility is closed for cleaning until the above date.
|WHCC Fitness Lab at Welborn Center Will be Open For Summer|
The Fitness Facility at Welborn Wellness Center at
West Hills College Coalinga Will be Open This Summer
Monday thru Friday
Monday and Friday 6pm—9pm
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 7:30pm—9pm
Membership Dates and Cost:
Tuesday, May 28, 2013 through Friday, August 9, 2013
COST $40 PER PERSON ($20 for WHCC students & staff)
(cost includes use of fitness lab equipment, workout towel, locker room and shower facilities)
For more info come by the athletic offices on campus
|Summer Library Hours Announced at Lemoore Campus|
The WHCL Library/Learning Resource Center will be closed from May 27 (Memoiral Day) through that week (May 31).
It will reopen on Monday, June 3 and remain open four days a week through Aug. 15 with limited summer hours:
Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The campus library will return to regular hours on Monday, Aug. 19.