Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Hosts Educational Forum in East Whittier

Rio Hondo College concluded its 2014-2015 Educational Forum series on April 23 from 6 to 8  p.m. at East Whittier Middle School.

The MC for the evening was Russell Castaneda-Calleros, Director of Government and Community Relations at RHC. Castaneda-Calleros welcomed the community and announced there would be give-aways for those who stay for the entire forum, including two Kindle Fire tablets.

The intro then segued to RHC President and Superintendent Teresa Dreyfus and President of the RHC District, Madeline Shapiro.

Shapiro was a 25-year veteran teacher in East Whittier prior to becoming a Trustee with the RHC District.

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The two ladies expressed RHC’s commitment and partnership with the East Whittier community and encouraged everyone to develop and support a “college-going-culture”.

The program then had the audience split into three groups to attend a series of three separate workshops covering RHC Honors/Transfer Pathways, Career and Technical Education, and Student Services.

The Honors and Transfer Pathways workshop was conducted by Rode Gaw, RHC Transfer Counselor, and Yicel Paez of the RHC Office of Outreach and Educational Partnerships.

Gaw and Paez emphasized that one-third of University of California students and two-thirds of California State University students are transfer students.

Gaw declared that, “attending Rio Hondo and transferring to a UC or Cal State is a smarter and more affordable route.”

To assist students in making their transfer plans a reality, RHC has established the First Year Success Center (FYSC). “FYSC has full time staff to provide freshmen with counseling based on their individual goals,” said Gaw.

The second workshop focused on RHC Career and Technical Education. Don Mason, a 20-year law enforcement veteran and Dean of Public Safety at RHC, was this session’s engaging and entertaining host.

Mason asked the students in the audience what they wanted to study to become, and the majority answered “I don’t know.”

Mason pointed out that Rio Hondo may be just what an undecided student needs, because “school is the perfect place to find yourself.”

Representatives also gave community members examples of careers RHC students can train for through certificate programs and transfer programs.

Connie Austin, dean of Health Sciences, discussed Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) programs (16 weeks long), Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) programs (1 year + 1 semester), and Registered Nurse (RN) programs (2 years + 1 semester).

Alternative Energy and Electrical Instructor David Lindy proudly pointed out that, “RHC uses real world equipment,” as community members examined a pricey diagnostic tool used in actual RHC classes.

Lindy was happy to be out talking to the community on a Thursday night.

“People need to know the educational opportunities available to them,” said Lindy.

Also involved in this portion of the evening was Steve Hebert, Dean of Kinesiology, Dance, and Athletics.

Hebert highlighted the personal fitness trainer certificate program which only takes 1 year to complete.

Hebert reinforced the integrity of his division, “RHC has fourteen competitive sports programs, all of them coached by Master’s Degree holders.”

The third workshop revolved around was the topic of Student Services.

Belen Torres-Gil, Career Center Coordinator, emphasized the strong counseling programs available at RHC and pointed out that college is not just for those just out of high school.

Rio has a counseling program established for adults going back to college. These are people who are 25+ years old who have been out of college for at least 5 years.

Henry Gee, RHC Vice-President of Student Services, talked about financial aid and shared his own experience as a student at a community college who took full advantage of of the financial aid offered at that time.

Gee pointed out that students applying to four-year schools need to explore their community college options as well.

Gee recommends that students, “Have a Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. … If you want to test the waters, a community college like Rio Hondo is a great place to do it. It’s too expensive to test the waters at a four-year school today.”

The evening ended with the three groups reconvening for the raffling of Rio Hondo T-shirts and the two Kindle Fire tablets.

The event was provided free-of-charge by Rio Hondo College and the East Whittier City School District.

For More information go to the Rio Hondo website at, like Rio Hondo on Facebook, and download the Rio Hondo College app from the Apple App Store and on Google Play.

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