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Student services given more space

Former offices to move to house new center

By Christian Urrutia, photo editor
On April 26, 2014

  • Representatives from UC Berkeley, San Francisco State, Mills College and other four-year institutions will visit and hold appointments with students in SSC-111 two to three times a month. Christian Urrutia / The Advocate

Anyone unfamiliar with Contra Costa College will soon have a place to become acquainted with the campus and all the services it offers.
The work-in-progress Welcome Center, located in SSC-111, will host a staff of employees and a number of services designed to ease the initial period of confusion many new students experience when arriving on campus.
Computers for registration, seating arrangements with tables and employees from several different student services areas will be available in the Welcome Center to assist with student needs or questions.
"In order to better serve students we need a Welcome Center," Dean of Student Services Vicki Ferguson said.
A definitive date has not been set for the opening of the center, but the planned time frame is late May to early June, Ferguson said.
The space currently undergoing its transformation into the Welcome Center is the Dean of Students Office, located in the Student Services Center.
The Dean of Students Office will be moved to the present International Students Office, which is moving into the Admissions and Records Office.
English as a second language student Susana Landeros said the idea of a Welcome Center is great because she was unsure of where to go for help and guidance when first arriving at CCC.
"Hopefully we can offer more help to people who speak English as a second language in the Welcome Center because so many Spanish-speaking students here (at CCC) have trouble understanding some things," Landeros said.
Landeros, upon arriving to CCC to register for classes, had to wait for someone to translate for her, which ended up taking more than three hours for them to show up, she said.
Vice President Tammeil Gilkerson said, "My understanding is that students wanted a space where they could register and receive support about transferring, so we're pushing the center forward."
Gilkerson said the college is beginning to prepare SSC-111 with furniture and renovations done by the Keller Group Office Environments.
All the services made available to CCC's students, such as financial aid, Admissions and Records, EOPS and Single Stop, could use the space, she said.
Two permanent counseling assistants will be in the center to help with EOPS needs and for general questions.
The new space has yet to be given a concrete floor plan.
Counselor Andrea Phillips said, "Until I see the center (completed), it's hard to say what we are going to do with the space."
While Gilkerson and Ferguson plan to host visits by UC and CSU representatives within the Welcome Center, it will not be the main focus of the center.
Phillips, who devotes a percentage of her time communicating with students through InSite Portal about upcoming transfer events, plans to spend time in the center during peak registration times to assist students.
"There has yet to be a plan of action, but one thing for sure is I'll probably be spending a lot of my time there," Phillips said. "But until the Welcome Center is operational, I can't really say."
Ysrael Condori, Associated Student Union president, said that the Welcome Center has the potential to be seen as a direct resource for students interested in knowing about the campus and its services.
Condori said that ASU student senators could help out, as part of their weekly volunteer hours, and Student Life would also have student ambassadors present at the center.
"Another thing students want is to have a Transfer/Career Center, so as the (Welcome Center) is being developed students have a chance to give input (about its services)," Condori said, referencing a focus group the ASU performed last year.
"Hopefully we can have an idea of what it is going to be before it starts to operate," he said.
The former Transfer/Career Center was last active in 2011. Once housed in SSC-106, it was removed due to budget cuts to the general fund for the state education system.
Los Medanos College's CARE program coordinator Robin Harrison said, "I was the (CCC) transfer center coordinator for seven years and the last transfer coordinator up until (CCC) was no longer able to fund it.
"It was a really wonderful program and because of the way we ran the center, we had a lot of success."
She said it was an integral part of the school where students could help each other and it provided strong networking opportunities within that space.
"The past Transfer/Career Center (at CCC) was devoted to transferring and included 10 computers in the middle of the room," she said.
Computers for online transfer applications and personal statements were only a couple of the various services formerly offered at the CCC Transfer/Career Center.
"I had one student who, over a period of several months, would come to me for help with her personal statement," Harrison said. "We ended up rewriting her statement six times, and that's a service you can't get unless you have a Transfer/Career Center.
"A transfer day event isn't enough time to provide that kind of service to students," she said. 

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