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The Hub offers study space

By Nina Cestaro, staff writer
On April 8, 2014

A room in the Physical Sciences Building, designated as a place where students can receive help from professors and counselors, has not reached its potential according to several instructors on campus.
Located in PS-107, The Hub is a unique place where students and faculty can hang out in an area less formal than a faculty office to discuss coursework, homework, or just talk about anything that might be of help or concern to a student's success.
Contra Costa College counselor Luci Castruita said, "The reason this place works is because it's more than just somewhere to get questions answered. It's a place for people to maintain relationships."
Sue Van Hattan, mathematics professor, said few students have visited her during her office hours in The Hub and she believes part of that reason is that students are not aware of its existence.
"The purpose (of The Hub) is to let professors hear what is going on with their students academically and (whatever else) might be troubling them," Van Hattan said. "We also get to find out what's new this semester (in other departments)."
The Hub is manned by counselors, faculty members and its hours of operation are from 12:30 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays. PS-107 is located in the Center for Science Excellence.
Mike Petersen, a health and human services major, said as a continuing student he really benefits from getting individualized help at the Hub from the chair of the HHS department, Aminta Mickles.
Petersen added, "I feel more knowledgeable about getting an education plan works and how to navigate through this college."
It was the spring of 2013 when biology professor Katherine Krilokowski was in a district leadership meeting with Student Life Coordinator Kelly Ramos, among others.
Because of a conversation with Diablo Valley College faculty member Scott McDoogle, a colleague of Krilokowski, she had an epiphany about making students less afraid to meet with their professors.
"The students can access professors and make it less scary and have the faculty more available," Krilokowski said. Last fall district administrators contacted them about the idea and decided to apply it.
Krilokowski was contacted by Dr. Myra Padilla, of the METAS program, who wanted to collaborate by offering to put HSI/STEM budget money behind The Hub.
Alfred Zuniga, a veteran counselor at Contra Costa College, said The Hub affords students a unique feature in that they do not have to wait in lengthy lines and do not have to be alone with their counselors. This has both positive and negative impact.
When asked if it is a good alternative he said, "Not exactly, but it's supplemental to the student support services in the (Student Services Center). When people are listened to and feel special, they start uncovering real issues that are personal and important to them."
Xochitl Baltzar, an art major, had a vague idea The Hub existed. When students were asked if they knew about a place called The Hub, the response was mixed.
Business major Roberto Cortez said, "Yeah, well, I would go if I knew where it was."
Students Benjamin Doherty and Brian Little have not heard of any such place where students could get immediate academic counseling or speak to professors about getting help on homework.
Student Eva Bertrand said, "It's a safe place for you to go do your work."
The Hub is expecting to receive newer computers, but Krilokowski could not confirm a date. But for the time being, The Hub is situated in a small space and functions on a low budget.

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