THURSDAY, MARCH 29, 2007
Former Mountie to be Inducted into the Community College Hall of Fame
WALNUT, Calif.—Today Zelda Bolden helps Mt. SAC students find jobs, but in the 1980s, she was busy burning up the lanes as one of the Mounties’ premiere track and field stars. Bolden will be recognized for her athletic prowess when she is inducted into the California Community College Sports Hall of Fame during the Community College Commission on Athletics 10th annual convention on April 5 at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario.
A product of Garey High School in Pomona, Bolden was ranked among the top 10 prep runners in California and competed as a state finalist. As a Mountie from 1983 to 1985, she shattered women’s community college track records at 100 meters (11.23) and 200 meters (23.12). Both times remain California community college records and the national community college records for an American-born athlete. Bolden transferred to the University of Washington where the sprinter set the current school record at 100 meters with a clocking of 11.47.
Bolden returned to Mt. SAC in 1987 as an outreach recruiter for the college’s Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS), a department that assists students with academic and financial disadvantages. She then left Mt. SAC to work for the Los Angeles Urban League only to return to Mt. SAC a third time in 1997 as a job developer. Today she helps student find jobs, supervises job fairs and assists challenged students searching for employment.
Bolden will be one of four community college athletes inducted this year into the Hall of Fame at the convention. The Hall of Fame roster includes California community college greats such as Jackie Robinson, Tom Seaver and Joe Morgan.
###FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 2007
Mt. SAC Counseling Program Steers Students Toward Success
WALNUT, Calif.— At one time or another, life was a mess for Chip Kohnle, Kerry Gracia and Daniel Cole. Fueled by a drug-addled lifestyle, none of them saw much past a hazy day-to-day existence. But today as students in Mt. San Antonio College’s Alcohol and Drug Counseling Program, the three have a clarity of purpose they couldn’t have imagined before and are on track for a bright future that may lead to their dream of opening a nonprofit substance abuse treatment center.
“Upon my last release from prison, I made a decision that instead of ruining my life and the lives of others I wanted to pursue a career to save lives,” said Daniel, a former methamphetamine addict who served eight years in state prisons on drug-related charges.
When college didn’t fit the mold for him the first time around, Daniel dropped out began using drugs daily. An addict through his early to mid-20s, he went to prison five times and was finally released at age 35, when he joined a 12-step fellowship and began to ponder his future.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do and where my life was going,” Daniel said.
Likewise, Kerry’s life was headed in a downward spiral.
“I began hanging out with the wrong people and started partying and drinking obsessively,” she said. “Before I knew it, I was living on the streets and addicted to methamphetamine.”
Kerry, who served as an ASB vice president her senior year at Montclair High School, took on a lot of responsibility at a young age. Her father separated from her mother, who was a heroin addict, and Kerry assumed the family’s caretaker/mother role at age 8, cooking and cleaning for the household. Her father, meanwhile, struggled to raise the family on his own, sometimes working two jobs to make ends meet, and there was added pressure on Kerry from gangs. Her three older brothers were gang members.
Finally, the pressure proved too much for her. After graduating from high school, she enlisted in the Army, and once she was discharged, she fell into the gang lifestyle.
Soon her life was out of control. Her father died, and she and her then 18-month-old daughter, Jasmine, went through a period of homelessness, staying in motels, shelters and cars. At one point, she was arrested four times in three months. That was when she decided something had to change.
“I was tired of living this way, and I wanted something better for myself and my daughter,” said Kerry. “After losing everything to drugs, I wanted my life back.”
While looking at a prison sentence of five to eight years, she was eventually sentenced to a year-long stay in a drug treatment center.
Chip’s path to sobriety started 18 years ago after 12 years of addiction to alcohol and methamphetamine. His moment of truth came as he stood before a judge in 1989 and, just like his classmates, was facing a prison sentence.
“I didn’t want to go to prison, so I opted for the drug treatment program and became involved with a 12-step program,” Chip said.
Equally challenging was the notion of going back to school.
“In school, I never felt like I fit in. That’s why I fell into drugs,” said Chip. “I was convinced my teachers hated me, and I blamed them for my poor grades. I swore I would never return to school again.”
But in time, that would all change. He worked as a retail manager for 15 years before he met Daniel at a 12-step conference in Palm Springs and Paul Sharpe, the Director of Mt. SAC’s Alcohol and Drug Counseling Program. The meeting would end up redirecting their lives.
“That day I spent with Professor Paul Sharpe changed my life,” Daniel said. “He took the time to share with me the importance of a college degree and where my life could be if I took it upon myself to earn that degree.”
Daniel and Chip enrolled in the counseling program where they met Kerry. The program covers everything from chemical dependency and intervention to diagnosis and family counseling. Students are required to complete 34 core units for their associate’s degree.
“The program has taught me about myself and how to help others,” said Kerry. “All of the professors in the program are dedicated to our success and encourage us to continue our education.”
Now the three are nearly inseparable. They take classes together and study together. Along the way, one of their professors mentioned the idea of starting their own treatment facility. Kerry, Chip and Daniel took it to heart.
“I knew what these people who are addicted are going through because I had gone through it, and now I see opening a treatment center as a way I could give back to society,” Chip said.
Specifically, they plan on opening a nonprofit center.
“There are so many people out there who don’t have the money to get help,” he said.
Admittedly, it will take a while before their dream of helping others by opening a treatment center will become a reality. First, all three plan to complete the counseling program at Mt. SAC. Kerry and Chip will graduate this June, while Daniel will need an extra semester to finish. Then all three plan to transfer to Cal State Fullerton and earn their bachelor’s degrees in substance abuse counseling and go on to earn their master’s degrees.
It may take five years to realize their dream, but Chip Kohnle, Kerry Gracia and Daniel Cole are a lot closer now to achieving it than when they first enrolled in college. And taking that first step has made all the difference.
“Simply put, enrolling in Mt. SAC has changed my life,” said Kerry.
###WEDNESDAY, MARCH 07, 2007
Mt. SAC Faculty to “Put on the Hits” for Student Scholarships March 23 & 24
WALNUT, Calif.— Where can you see stars such as Madonna, U2, Bing Crosby and The Black Eyed Peas on the same stage? The answer is “Puttin’ on the Hits,” the Mt. San Antonio College Faculty Association's scholarship fundraiser. Show times are Friday, March 23, at 7 p.m., and Saturday, March 24, at 2 and 7 p.m., in the Clarke Theater.
Mt. SAC professors, managers, staff, and students in authentic costumes will impersonate famous celebrities and lip sync their hit tunes as the program takes the audience through decades of music, including country, swing, R & B, hip-hop, and rock ‘n’ roll.
“We’d like to raise a record amount of scholarship funds for our students,” said show producer and mathematics professor Joan Sholars. Last year’s production netted $16,000 for scholarships.
Tickets are $20 for general admission at all performances. Proceeds will go to student scholarships.
For tickets and information, call the Mt. SAC Performing Arts Box Office at (909) 468-4050.
###Mt. SAC Flying Team Takes Top Community College Honors at Regionals
WALNUT, Calif.— The Mt. San Antonio College Flying Team won the Top Community College trophy and second place overall at the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate Flying Association's SAFECON 2007, a regional airmeet competition featuring flying teams from colleges and universities in the Western United States, held recently at Brackett Field in La Verne. The Mt. SAC team has won the Top Community College trophy at the regional competition every year since 1991.
Mt. SAC, who hosted the event, placed second behind first-place Embry-Riddle University of Prescott, AZ., and ahead of third-place San Jose State University. Other teams competing at the airmeet included Caltech, Cypress College and the U.S. Air Force Academy. Individually, Mt. SAC’s Bryce Gordon won the Top Pilot trophy and placed first in the short field landing and power-off landing competition.
With the second-place finish, the Mt. SAC Flying Team will advance to the national intercollegiate airmeet at Ohio State University, May 7-12. Last year, Mt. SAC finished third overall at the regionals.
The Mt. SAC Flying Team consistently earns top honors as one of the best collegiate flying teams in the country. Mt. SAC won the Top U.S. Community College award at the Intercollegiate Flying Association's national airmeets in 1984, 1985, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2005.