May 2010

FRIDAY, MAY 28, 2010

Mt. SAC’s ASPIRE Mentoring Program Fosters Academic Success

WALNUT, Calif.—What a difference a few years can make.

Just two years ago, Marvin Thompson was selling drugs, drinking alcohol and having run-ins with the law. The 19-year-old Pomona resident never really liked school – he went to four different high schools by the time he was 16 – and going to college was definitely not on his “to-do” list.

But all that changed in the summer of 2008 when Thompson cleaned up his act and enrolled at Mt. San Antonio College. Today, he plans to become a probation officer and eventually go to law school. He credits one special program—ASPIRE—with helping him plot a new future.

“ASPIRE has given me a solid foundation and the resources to be successful,” said Thompson, who has excelled in his classes and plans to graduate next year. “It’s amazing. I’m so glad I’m here.”

The Mt. SAC ASPIRE mentoring program provides support services to increase the academic success, retention, degree completion, and transfer rates primarily for African-American students, who comprise about 6% of the college’s 35,000 full-time students. Now in its third year, the program has 170 mentees—up from around 100 last year, thanks to better marketing and outreach efforts.

According to Associate Dean of Counseling Dr. Dyrell Foster, who oversees ASPIRE, the program has already shown promising results. For example, ASPIRE participants achieved a higher success rate (71.4%) in pre-college English than nonparticipants (63.1%). Moreover, significantly more ASPIRE students are transferring this year to major universities—including UC Berkeley, USC, UCLA, Claremont, Columbia and Cal Poly Pomona—to complete studies for their bachelor degrees.

To join ASPIRE, students must complete an application, attend an orientation and maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA. Once accepted, participants are required to sign a “commitment to success” contract to ensure that they understand the program’s expectations. They are also required to attend various workshops and informational meetings.

ASPIRE students are assigned a mentor—typically a Mt. SAC faculty member, administrator, or staff person. Students meet with their mentors regularly throughout each semester to report on their academic progress and to share any challenge or problem they’re experiencing. Mentors provide guidance, resources and referrals to steer their mentees toward solutions, and they provide students a big dose of encouragement.

Dr. Damany Fisher, a history and political science professor, is new to the Mt. SAC campus but signed up to be a mentor without hesitation.

“There’s a great need for African-American professionals, especially men, to serve as mentors to the community here on campus,” Fisher said. “A lot of our students don’t have the opportunity to interact with male professionals or African-American faculty. It’s important for them to see that we do exist at this level.”

Fisher said having a mentor is critical and provides a long-term benefit. “You can help students advance and fulfill their educational goals.”

ASPIRE students also meet in “learning communities” to study together and help each other at a peer level. They also socialize together in both structured and informal activities.

This “community aspect” is an essential element to a student’s total college experience, says Dr. George Bradshaw, Mt. SAC’s dean of enrollment management, who was lucky enough to have mentors while he was in college. He definitely sees the value in giving back.

“Often times the college experience is a solitary endeavor for so many students—especially freshmen starting college at such a large campus like Mt. SAC,” Bradshaw observed. “Having a mentor or being involved in a program like ASPIRE provides a sense of community – that you’re not isolated or in this by yourself.”

Student Crystal Bodie of Monrovia said she has benefitted from ASPIRE in many ways, particularly in helping her achieve good grades.

“My mentor can give me any advice, and I take it and it works,” Bodie said. “I can have a problem in a class and the mentors will give me resources.”

Arnita Champion, who mentors Thompson and Bodie, said her experience has been life-changing.

“It has been an eye opener, a tear jerker . . . it’s been exuberant,” said Champion, a job developer and adjunct faculty member. “Students can feel like no one sees them—like they’re invisible. So when they connect with you, it’s absolutely amazing!”

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Mt. SAC Grad Beats Extraordinary Odds to Walk Tall at Commencement

WALNUT, Calif.—If you told Isaac Powell a few years ago that he would someday graduate from college, he might have thought you were joking. But after overcoming monumental obstacles that included three brain surgeries, Powell will indeed graduate with three associate degrees—at the top of his class—at Mt. San Antonio College’s 64th commencement on June 11.

“The way I was raised, I never believed I was smart enough to go to college,” said Powell, who has mastered the rigors of math and economics at Mt. SAC with a perfect 4.0 GPA, earning him numerous academic honors.

Once labeled a “hopeless screw up,” the 26-year-old San Dimas resident was told early on that the only way for an African-American to succeed in life was through sports. So he played basketball and football and ran track.

“I was told all along that college was not what black people do,” Powell said. As a result, he had very little interest in school.

Then came the headaches. Beginning at age 10, he endured four years of pounding, blinding headaches and misdiagnoses until one day, four years later, he was hit by the “granddaddy” of all migraines. “All I know is I was in my room one moment, and the next I was in the hospital,” he said.

Unconscious, young Powell was airlifted to UCLA Medical Center for an emergency brain surgery on a subdural abscess that had led to a brain infection. He underwent two more surgeries to relieve pressure on his brain and a six-month stay in the hospital.

“At the time, I was thinking ‘I want to go home. I wanted this experience to end,’ ” he recalls.

But the road to recovery proved to be a bit longer than he expected. Powell had to be rehabilitated to regain control of his muscles and learn to walk again.

“I stayed in a bed for so long, I had to rehabilitate my muscles and speech,” he said.

After six months, Powell was sent home to continue therapy. Ironically, it was his prior athletic conditioning that aided his recovery. But once he returned to school, nothing seemed to have changed. He continued to excel athletically as a 6-foot, 4-inch power forward/center at Bonita High School, but academics still didn’t interest him.

After graduation, Powell worked for four years in construction and in a factory assembling big-screen televisions. Then he decided to go back to school with the sole intention of playing basketball.

“At 22, I finally realized that in the working world, I wasn’t going to make it if I didn’t have an education,” he said.

Powell enrolled at Mt. SAC in 2006, made the Mountie basketball team, but didn’t see much playing time. Then fate would step in again as a basketball injury caused him to shift his focus to his studies. Surprisingly, he liked it.

“I found that taking college classes was completely different from high school classes,” he said. “I also discovered that I was intelligent, that school wasn’t as hard as I thought, and most importantly, that I actually liked school!”

Soon he became more involved with college life, joining campus clubs, the Honors Program, and even a mentor program through Mt. SAC’s Continuing Education Division. For a year and a half, he mentored a troubled teenager who reminded Powell of himself.

“He was tall and skinny, had very little interest in school, and was on the verge of dropping out,” he said. “But from that experience, I saw that people can make a difference in their community.”

Meanwhile, Powell’s academic interests took off, and he excelled beyond anyone’s wildest dreams—earning a perfect GPA. Last year, he was named a Mt. SAC Student of Distinction. This year, he was selected for the prestigious All-California Academic First Team by Phi Theta Kappa, the international community college honor society. Recently he was among only 40 students nationwide selected to receive the coveted Jack Kent Cooke Transfer Undergraduate Scholarship, which will provide him up to $30,000 annually to complete his bachelor’s degree.

Now Powell’s future is bright, and he’s not looking back. On June 11, he will graduate from Mt. SAC with no less than three Associate in Arts degrees—in natural science and math, language arts and communication, and in social and behavioral sciences. He plans to transfer to USC next fall and major in public policy. Call it poetic irony. For someone who was once indifferent toward education, Powell now wants to become a college professor eventually.

“For me, Mt. SAC revealed potential that I didn’t think was even possible,” he said.

TUESDAY, MAY 25, 2010

Mt. SAC to Stage “Anatomy of Gray” June 3-6

WALNUT, Calif.–– The Mt. San Antonio College Theater Program will stage its production of “Anatomy of Gray” on Thursday through Saturday, June 3-5, at 8 p.m., in Mt. SAC’s Studio Theater. A special Sunday matinee performance will be given on June 6 at 2 p.m.

Set in the American heartland of the late 1800s, “Anatomy of Gray” centers on a young doctor named Galen P. Gray who is in the midst of experiencing a crisis of faith. Inexplicably prone to fainting at the sight of blood, Galen doubts his abilities as a healer and sets out on a journey to find his true purpose in life. A powerful story of redemption and hope, “Anatomy of Gray” is a medical fable for all ages illustrating the lesson that often in order to find your faith, you must first lose your way. Patrick Pearson directs this Mt. SAC production.

Tickets are $12 for general admission, $9 for seniors, students, and children under 12.

For tickets and more information, call the Performing Art Box Office at (909) 468-4050. Tickets may also be purchased online at


TUESDAY, MAY 18, 2010

Mt. SAC Sets Spring Dance Concert May 28-30

WALNUT, Calif.––The Mt. San Antonio College Dance Department will perform a variety of dance styles at its Annual Spring Dance Concert on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 28 -30, at the college’s Sophia Clarke Theater. Performance times are 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday with a special 3 p.m. performance on Sunday, May 30.

The Spring Dance Concert features a variety of dance styles, including modern, jazz, hip hop, and contemporary dance. Choreographed by talented Mt. SAC students, the spring concert has something for everyone.

Tickets are $12 for general admission, and $9 for seniors, students and children under 12.

For tickets, visit www.4tix.orgor call the Mt. SAC Performing Arts Box Office at (909) 468-4050.

THURSDAY, MAY 13, 2010

Mt. SAC Students Win $30,000 Jack Kent Cooke Scholarships

WALNUT, Calif.––Mt. San Antonio College honor students Isaac Powell and Carmina Del Mundo are two of 40 scholars selected among 500 community college nominees across the nation to receive the 2010 Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The selection of Powell and Del Mundo marks the fourth consecutive year that a Mt. SAC student has been granted this prestigious scholarship, valued up to $30,000 annually.

"Both of our awardees have accomplished so much, despite the challenges they have had to overcome,” said Mt. SAC Student Services Vice President Audrey Yamagata-Noji. “Isaac and Carmen no longer need to worry about how they will get to the next step of their educational journey. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has built the bridge to the future for these two, very deserving students."

Powell, 25, is a math/economics student and carries a 4.0 GPA. Earlier this spring, he was named to the 2010 All-California Academic First Team., chosen by Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the international community college honor society. He was also named one of Mt. SAC’s Students of Distinction this year. A resident of San Dimas, he is active in Mt. SAC’s PTK chapter, the Basic Skills mentoring program, and InterClub Council. He was also a member of the Mt. SAC men’s basketball team. He plans to transfer to USC as a public policy major.

Del Mundo, 20, is an international relations/political science major and carries a 3.95 GPA. A resident of West Covina, she serves as the president of Mt. SAC’s Circle K Club, vice president of publicity for PTK, and as a member of the college President’s Advisory Committee. She is also active in the student government activities committee and Mt. SAC’s acclaimed speech team. She plans to transfer to USC as an international relations/political science major.

Previous Mt. SAC winners are Xiwen Wang (2009), who transferred to UC Berkeley, and Kiran Alvi (2008) and Miguel Del Mundo (2007), who transferred to USC.

The Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship Program was designed to help community college students with exceptional promise and demonstrated financial need make the transition to four-year colleges and universities.

Every year, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation selects approximately 50 high-achieving, low-income students from community colleges for scholarships that provide funding for tuition, room and board, fees and books.

TUESDAY, MAY 11, 2010

Mt. SAC Summer Registration Begins May 17

WALNUT, Calif.–– Online registration for Mt. San Antonio College's summer intersession credit classes begins May 17 and continues through June 23. Classes begin on Monday, June 28.

For the six–week summer session, new and continuing students must register for classes online at Before registering, new students must apply to the college online ( and then activate their student portal account (set-up instructions are provided). Students will receive a registration date and time in their portal account.

For students who do not have computer access, computers and assistance are available in the Student Services Center during business hours.

New students may also apply in person at the Admissions & Records Office on campus, located in the Student Services Center. The office is open Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. New students must also contact the Counseling Department to sign up for the required orientation session before registering for classes.

The enrollment fee is still set at $26 per unit for California residents, and all fees are due upon registration.

It should also be noted that the Mt. SAC campus will be closed on Fridays from June 18 through Aug. 6, as a cost-saving measure.

For more registration information, call the Mt. SAC Admissions & Records Office at (909) 274-4415, or visit

MONDAY, MAY 10, 2010

Mt. SAC Wins Phi Theta Kappa Hallmark Awards

WALNUT, Calif.–– Mt. San Antonio College honors student Lisa Bastio received the Distinguished Chapter Presidents Award, and Honors Program Director Carolyn Kuykendall was selected for the Paragon Award for New Advisors recently at the Phi Theta Kappa annual convention in Orlando, Fla. Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) is the international honors society for community colleges.

More than 400 PTK chapters vied for the coveted Hallmark Awards, which recognize excellence in scholarship, leadership, service, and fellowship.

A resident of Pomona, Bastio is the president of Mt. SAC’s PTK chapter. She is the recent recipient of a $5,000 Guistwhite scholarship, which is based on academic achievement, service to the college and community, and participation in PTK. A mother of six, Bastio is a natural sciences major and carries a 3.8 GPA. She plans to transfer to USC to study dental hygiene.

A resident of Santa Ana, Kuykendall began at Mt. SAC in 2009 as Honors Program Director. Previously, she taught English and Humanities at Saddleback College for 13 years. She also served as chair of the English, Philosophy, and Humanities departments and directed the honors program at Saddleback.

Headquartered in Jackson, Miss., PTK is the largest honors society in American higher education with 1,250 chapters in the United States, Canada, and Germany. More than 2 million students have been inducted in PTK since its founding in 1918.



Mt. SAC Art Gallery to Host 62nd Student Art Exhibition

WALNUT, Calif.–– The 62nd Annual Mt. San Antonio College Student Art Exhibition will open Thursday, May 13, and runs through Thursday, June 3, in the Mt. SAC Art Gallery. This exhibit is free and open to the public.

The annual show is a juried event and features the best original work by Mt. SAC art, photography, and animation students. A special opening reception with entertainment and refreshments will be held Thursday, May 13, from 4 to 6 p.m.

Gallery hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Evening hours are held on Tuesdays from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

For more information, call the Art Gallery at (909) 594-5611, ext. 4328.