Rio Hondo College hosts inaugural Adult Re-Entry Career Success Conference

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Mark Doyle, Rio Hondo College Logistics Management student, requests transfer information from Imelda Rangel of Azusa Pacific University. (Armand Santos / El Paisano)

Armand Santos, Senior Staff Writer

The Center for Career and Re-Entry Services at Rio Hondo College kicked-off its First Annual Adult Re-Entry Career Success Conference on Oct. 18 in the lower quad.

Conference participants were welcomed by Theresa Dreyfus, Rio Hondo College President/Superintendent, Henry Gee, Vice President of Student Services, Russell Castaneda-Calleros, Director of Government and Community Relations, and Belen Torres-Gil, Coordinator of the Center for Career and Re-Entry Services.

The conference was designed to specifically address the needs of adult re-entry students who qualify by being 25 years of age or older and are new to college or returning to college after an absence of five years or more.

Torres-Gil acknowledged that Adult Re-Entry is a student segment with a distinct identity and needs that set it apart from what is commonly termed the “traditional” student population, and that the Rio Hondo Administration was resolute in the rapid deployment of a program that would be there to support them. The program currently employs two staffers and future growth is a possibility.

We started the program with 700 students, now we must have about 1,400 students, all in six months.”

— Angelica Martinez, Counselor

“It’s twenty-five percent of our [student] population [at Rio Hondo College],” revealed Angelica Martinez, Counselor for the Adult Re-Entry Students Program. “What this program does is give them a home-base on campus. They can come to us for everything, like financial aid and admissions assistance, so they’re not running around, because the one thing they lack is time.”

Martinez began her association with Rio Hondo working in CalWORKs  (California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids) and soon became a technical education counselor with Behavioral and Social Sciences before taking up her new position when the Adult Re-Entry Students Program was created earlier this year.

The program is already showing the most obvious sign of success, it is growing. “We started the program with 700 students, now we must have about 1,400 students, all in six months,” beamed Martinez.

Martinez is very passionate when discussing the program and the students it serves, and that is because she was one of them. “That was me, with multiple transcripts, lots of F’s and Withdrawals,” reveals Martinez, “so when I see their transcripts and they feel so embarrassed, I’m like, ‘I was you, I have my master’s degree now, I’m okay and you’re going to be okay, too. Don’t worry, we got this.’”

The conference’s program provided four informational breakout sessions. Session one, LinkedIn, presented by Nicole Fogelman, Graduate Student, demonstrated how to use the online tool for effective professional networking.

The second session, Transfer Panel, addressed the transfer needs of the working adult student and consisted of representatives from Azusa Pacific University, Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State Los Angeles, Cal State Fullerton, University of Laverne, and Whittier College, all boasting programs that are friendly to the adult working population.

Session three was Stress Management, led by Dr. Denna Sanchez, Coordinator of Psychological Services at Rio Hondo College. It was a workshop designed around the stressors of the adult re-entry student, such as balancing family responsibilities, work schedules, and the demands of school.

The final session, Financial Aid 101, was presented by Yvonne Gutierrez-Sandoval, Director of Financial Aid at Rio Hondo College, and dealt with the vital topic of financial aid. Gutierrez-Sandoval illuminated the financial aid process, including what to expect after applying for aid.

If you are 25 years old or older and are new to college, or are coming back after a 5 year break or longer, drop by the Center for Career and Re-Entry Services in the Student Services Building, room SS350, and tell them that you’re there for the Adult Re-Entry Program. You can also call them at (562) 463-7047 or email them at [email protected]. Look for Angelica or Mauricio.