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The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

New transfer counselor serves underrepresented students

JennyErika Barco, new Transfer Achievement Program lead counselor, on Thursday, Feb. 23, outside of the Administration building at City College. Barco went to Cal state LA and currently finishing her Doctorate there as well with being the first full time Transfer Achievement Program counselor.

The transfer center bustles with groups of diverse students hanging out with counselors asking about their day as students update the staff on their weekends.

Counselor JennyErika Barco waves to familiar faces from her office in the transfer center as they call her by first name and she invites them in to check on their progress and weekends.

Barco is the first full-time counselor for the Transfer Achievement Program at City College. The program serves first generation students, low-income families, undocumented and historically underrepresented students by providing them knowledge to help them transition to transfer schools.

“It’s definitely a passion of mine to keep pursuing education as much as I can to keep contributing back into the education field, specifically the needs of the underrepresented students,” Barco said.

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Barco was born in 1981 in Guatemala and moved to south central Los Angeles when she was 2-years-old and described her upbringing in California as not easy.

Barco and her siblings grew up surrounded by drive-by shooting, drugs and neighborhood gangs. Her family struggled with the public system because they were undocumented.

Barco entered high school with little knowledge of college until her brother got accepted into California State University, Los Angeles. He helped guide her through the application process when it was her time to make sure she got the scholarships and aid that he did not receive when they were undocumented.

In 1999, Barco was accepted into Cal State Los Angeles where she joined her brother and found her passion for advising during a student orientation. She later joined the orientation program and became a student leader, ambassador and recruiter.

“I realized that being active with students really opened up a whole new world for me of being a public servant—being someone that can be there to assist students,” Barco said.

Now, Barco is simultaneously finishing her doctorate at Cal State Los Angeles while working as a counselor for the Transfer Achievement Program. Barco never saw Santa Barbara in her future but calls this opportunity “divinely orchestrated” and what she had been praying for.

“My role is to help provide that guidance and gearing the program where it needs to go,” Barco said.

Counselors provide students with a comprehensive education plan but more importantly, a community open to conversation.

“I love how friendly everyone is and how informative they are about upcoming events,” Megan Ortega, 21, said.

Ortega has been a part of the program since 2016 and said that she appreciates how often she can go to the transfer center to hang out and say hello to everyone but is also always aware of what she needs to do in order to succeed.

Barco said that the program really pushes and teaches students how to ask the right questions and find the right people in the college systems so they can get the information they need in a polite and direct manner.

“I’m not here to carry you, I’m here to walk with you,” Barco said.

This semester, the program will host a few campus field trips to tour universities with students. There will also be meetings to reintroduce the staff and students to each other while discussing further events. On April 30 in the Cafeteria, the program will honor graduating transfer students in a ceremony that Barco said many students look forward to.

“Education is the vehicle, the student is the driver and I’m the passenger here to provide the different pathways or shortcuts,” Barco said. “I want the students to explore their next milestone in their educational careers.”


A previous version of this story referred to the Transfer Achievement Program as the Transfer Academy Program. The previous version also stated that the graduation ceremony would be held at the Memorial Garden, but it will actually be held in the Cafeteria.

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