SBCC Transitions programs wins Diversity and Equity award

Linda Sturesson, Staff Writer

The Transitions program won the Dr. John W. Rice Diversity and Equity award, and made this the second consecutive year that City College has received the honor.

The Rice Award was created in 2001 to honor community college staff members, districts, colleges and programs that distinctively contribute to college success.

Transitions supports 30 former inmates every summer on parole or probation to readjust to society by following their goal of beginning or continuing their educational plan. It can be anything from a certificate or an associate degree to a transfer to a four-year university.

“There’s no other college in the state of California doing anything like this,” said transitions program advisor Noel Gomez. “I think we got the award because of its uniqueness.”

Larry Davidson, 64, participated in the Transitions Program two and a half years ago. He is now a peer advisor for the program and currently enrolled in his sixth semester, majoring in drug and alcohol counseling.

“The program saved my butt,” Davidson said. “Before I came here, I had stolen more computers than I had used and now, all of a sudden, I’m helping people.”

The program was established in 2008. About 90 former inmates, approximately 82 percent of all participants, have fully completed the program. It received national recognition from Harvard University’s School of Education and colleges in Washington and Oregon have been urged to use the Transitions Program as a model.

“It’s a population that needs the opportunity to better themselves with an education because that’s what city colleges do,” said Marsha Wright, director of extended opportunity programs and services. “We serve all.”

Last year, City College became the first community college to receive two Rice Awards in the same year. Professor Ignacio Ponce received the award for expanding the American Sign Language program and doubling the enrolment since 2008.

The second went to the Veterans Support Program that was founded to help returning soldiers transition into college life. The award was named after former Board of Governors’ member, Dr. John W. Rice, who served the board from 1992 until his death in 2000. He was a spokesperson for equal employment opportunity and non-discrimination in the California Community Colleges.