Category Archives: Campus News

Columbia College Foundation plans Promise Program expansion

The Columbia College Foundation is pleased to announce an exciting expansion of its Columbia College Promise for local high school seniors enrolling at Columbia College. Starting in Fall 2020, the Promise program will make it possible for every qualified local public high school graduate to attend Columbia College fulltime, tuition free, for two full years of consecutive semesters if they enroll immediately after graduation.  The program service area will also expand to include high school graduates throughout the college service area which includes Oakdale and Waterford, and to Mariposa and Calaveras, both adjacent rural high school districts.

“Thanks to additional funding now available through the state’s California Promise program, the Foundation is very pleased to expand the program to cover a second year of college and a larger geographical area,” said Foundation President Colette Such. “We’re incredibly grateful to our private donors who helped us launch and sustain the Columbia College Promise, and to the college for continuing to invest this new state funding in this exceptionally successful program. “

In 2018, the program’s first year, 185 local high school graduates took advantage of the free tuition offer. Demonstrating the program’s success, in 2019, full time enrollment of local high school graduates expanded to 214 students.  In Tuolumne County, the response has been especially successful with more than 45% of Sonora High’s Class and 50% of Summerville and Tioga High School’s Class enrolling as fulltime students and taking advantage of the free tuition offer.

Though still in its infancy, the Columbia College Promise program is already exceeding expectations.

“We have been overwhelmed with the response to this program and are encouraged with its growing success.  It is clear that we are meeting an important need in our community,” Such said.

Columbia College President Santanu Bandyopadhyay added his support.  “We are grateful for the financial support of private donors that launched this program and are pleased that the College can support program expansion.   We are confident that the Promise program will contribute greatly to the College’s goal of building an educated work force.  When the community and the college work together, great things happen. “

The goal of the Promise program is to remove the tuition barrier that often stops promising young high school graduates from pursuing their education while connecting them to support services to help ensure success.  The intent is to increase the number of local high school graduates who attend Columbia College, thereby boosting the population of workforce-ready young adults who complete a degree, certificate or training program, or successfully transfer to a 4-year college.

Additional information on the program expansion will be posted on the Columbia College website and Facebook pages, and will be available to families in October, through their school counselors.

While state funding has allowed the Promise expansion, local donor support is still an essential element to keep the program going.  As with all programs of this nature, continuation is dependent on the availability of state funding, support from the college, and donations from generous contributors.

Contributions for the Promise Scholarship program and other Foundation projects are always welcome.

To join the effort or learn more, contact Amy Nilson, Director of Development at Columbia College at (209) 588-5055 or or visit


Columbia College Foundation, founded in 1972, is a nonprofit organization that promotes quality higher education that enriches the academic, economic, and cultural life of our community. The mission is to promote student success by providing community resources that support and expand educational opportunities for Columbia College students.


Columbia College will hold its 50th Commencement on Friday, May 3, at 6:00 p.m. in the Oak Pavilion. A brief reception for the graduates and guests will be held immediately after the ceremony in Carkeet Park next to the pavilion.

Among the graduating class, 68 Associate of Arts Degrees will be conferred, 53 Associate of Arts Transfer Degrees, 112 Associate of Science Degrees, 26 Associate of Science Transfer Degrees, 1 Associate of Science (Occupational Education) Degrees, and 124 Certificates of Achievement. 40 students will graduate with distinction (cumulative grade point averages of 3.75 or better) and 46 with honors (between 3.5 and 3.74 grade point averages).

Those who will receive both A.A./A.A.T and A.S./A.S.T. or A.S.O.E. degrees are Chorine Bonham, Joshua Bullock, Christopher Danon, Haley Dyson, Dawn Fullerton, Gabriel Gamez, Kaielin Gilliland, Nicholas Graham, Dillon Hadden, Ronald Hawkins, Lauren Johnson, Erik Juncker, Dimitri Lolonis, Nikaya Lundeen, Teyana Lundeen, Cole Luthey, Lauren Macon, Anthony Marcoccia, Theresa Martin, Angela Materne, Bruce Meissner, Stephanie Norman, Brandon Olson, Savannah Pascale, Jordan Peck, Beau Pimentel, Pedro Rodriguez, Lamu Ryavec, Dwayne Stearns, Jessica Stevenson, Karly Sturgeon, Joseph Valentine, Faith Weatheral-Block, and Benjamin Williams.

In addition, both associate degrees and certificates will be presented to Eric Cisneros, Antonio Garcia, Darlene Gibson, Jessica Hodge, Izak Mahoney, Cedric McKinney, Jacob Roberts-Foreman, Samantha Smith, Dylan Souza, and Dwayne Stearns.

Angels Camp, CA
Thomas Johnathan Chimente
Kayla R. Harmuth
Kayronna Yvonne Hoskins
Savannah Rose Mattingly
Cody Reed Roessler
Kristi Kay Smylie
Bailey Marie Van Zant
Angwin, CA
Mark Aaron Kreuzer
Arnold, CA
Jennifer M. Cole
Colin J. Gage
Sarah Grace Gage
Ronald Scott Hawkins
Cedric Kyle McKinney
Jessie Anna Rucker
Haley Elizabeth Shaver
Atwater, CA
Katherine Lynn Hamera
Cole M. Luthey
Avery, CA
Clinton William Kafka
Cole Younger
Benicia, CA
Pablo M. Cooper
Brentwood, CA
Mathew Robert Peterson
Buena Park, CA
Jarrod D. Garrison
Burson, CA
Brandon Roi Olson
Catheys Valley, CA
Dalton Kaleo Talbot
Ceres, CA
Beau William Pimentel
Raeleen D. Smith
Chinese Camp, CA
Gabrielle Arlene Stewart
Columbia, CA
John Nelson McClure, IV
Bruce Meissner
Denise L. Merrick
Emily A. O’Neill
Jeffrey A. Snyder
Isaiah Russell Traub
Copperopolis, CA
Jacob D. Burtovoy
Deborah Richards
Alexis Nicole Watt
Coulterville, CA
Cody G. Henderson
Denair, CA
Dylan A. Souza
Dinuba, CA
Julian N. Torres
Dos Palos, CA
Cobie Andrew Zapata
Escalon, CA
Stuart James Eachus
Dustin Jacob Lawrence
Fair Play, CA
Bonnie Sue-Monger Porter-Kotzebue
Fremont, CA
Michael Todd Pyle
Daniela Alejandra Vazquez
Galt, CA
Ashlee DeCota
Greeley Hill, CA
Sydney Aryn Pearson
Groveland, CA
Joanna Coyoca
Stacy L. Gray
Terry Robert Joaquin
Patricia J. Macdonald
Hayden J. Peek
Jane L. Perreira
Melinda Ann Pollock
Lucia Rose Sedoo
Hollister, CA
Brandon P. Moakler
Hughson, CA
Erik Richard Juncker
Jackson, CA
Khouri O’Neal Kling
Jamestown, CA
Andrew N. Blazzard
Katelynn Lashell-Melinda Boyd
Todd David Burpee
Quinten Joseph Carlson
Alanna Michelle Garcia
Alexandra D. Hammerbeck
Teyana (Tay-on-uh) N. Lundeen
Keith S. Madsen
Sheryl Marie Max
Rodrigo Daniel Nogales
Brandon B. Pierce
Crystal Lee Pombo
Zackary Allen Smith
Luke Christian Ulibarri
Benjamin Darrel Williams
Janesville, CA
Richard S. Duran
La Grange, CA
Heidi Renee Ekstrum
Tyler F. Goodrow
Kirstin Roselyne Leventhal
Lake Forest, CA
Matthew Arthur
Lodi, CA
Meghann A. Valadez
Long Barn, CA
Jody J. Grasso
Los Gatos, CA
Kimberlyn Jeannine Quinn
Manteca, CA
Sabrina Mae Jewel Meckler
Mariposa, CA
Alyssa M. Tomerlin
Merced, CA
Faviola Garcia
Cameron A. Graham
Kimberly Surilem Hernandez-Mena
Mi Wuk Village, CA
Adam Marek Radzikowski
Modesto, CA
Samuel Joshua Grider
Sharon L. Jones
Tyler A. Kafka
Brian J. Luna
William Marcum
Tamara McLain
Eric Salazar Mora
Jacob R. Roberts-Foreman
Joseph Douglas Valentine
Victoria Vongdara
Sharokina Yaghoubi
Mokelumne Hill, CA
Sharla Anna Greene
Coral Paloma
Morgan Hill, CA
George A. Croft
Mountain Ranch, CA
Bryce Dorflinger
Murphys, CA
Max Golay
Tania B. Hernandez
Brittany Leigh Kleinschnitz
Eric Michael Pellegrino
Bethanni Marie Riedel
Chase Benjamin Saul
Napa, CA
Amy Ann Dizmang
Newark, CA
Laura L. Fox
Oakdale, CA
Vincent Christian Albertoni
Samuel Tucker Angarole
Dulce Maria Ayala
Michael Anthony Baskind
Kaitlin Makena Burke
Lisa P. Canales
Maegan F. DeGraff
Cierra Jane Duke
Haley J. Dyson
Desiray Lea Ann Fouts
Steven M. Gazdik
Collin James Harrity
Jessica Lynn Hatfield
Kendall Grace Kiely
Alexandra C. Kozicki
Jarod M. LeCouve
Dimitri P. Lolonis
Kate A. Mendes
Bryce T. Neal
Anthony Rodin
Pedro Jesus Rodriguez
Carley A. Ross
Christina Verina Scott
Alexis Elizabeth Sibley
Jessica Ann Stevenson
Lane J. Trapp
Maria Candelaria Venegas
Kendra Kathlyn Whorton
Oakland, CA
Ishmael A. Edson
Pioneer, CA
Karly L. Sturgeon
Pismo Beach, CA
Karen Lynn Moore
Placentia, CA
Danica Irene Zormeier
Richmond, CA
Eric Anthony Cisneros
Riverbank, CA
Gardenia Reyes
Riverside, CA
Courtney Taylor Short
Roseville, CA
Aaron Jordon Caudillo
Sacramento, CA
Brian T. Applegate
Katie Ann
San Andreas, CA
Amy Cherie Koenig
San Jose, CA
JoAnne Elizabeth Bria
Stephanie L. Irvin
Alexander P. Kuhn
Samantha C. Smith
Faith A. Weatheral-Block
San Mateo, CA
Micalah A. Baker
Santa Barbara, CA
Jenna A. Weeks
Santa Cruz, CA
Antonio I. Garcia
Savannah Rose Pascale
Santa Rosa, CA
Daniel Peter Pavlin
Sonora, CA
Alexander Dennis Adam
Brianna S. Adams
Dillon G. Albino
Dustin Douglas Alkema
Troy D. Andal
Weston Jon Andal
Jessica Lynn Anselmi
Parker Troy Ashton
Rosetta Bannwarth
Errin Tyler Bass
Nicole S. Bautista
Bradley S. Begley
Chorine Michelle Bonham
Michayla Marie Botts
Joshua Allen Bullock
Theresa Anne Campagna
Pia Sequoia Campbell
Kristin Rose Chormicle
Katherine R. Cordes
Ronald Dale Coyle
Ian Lee Crauthers
Christopher Renato Danon
Valeria Dapello
Alyssa M. Dunlap
Christian Nicole Ferraro
Dallas Lee Ford
Macee E. Fray
Dawn Marie Fullerton
Gabriel E. Gamez
Natalie Marie Gill
Kaielin M. Gilliland
Jackson Blaine Gordon
Maranda K. Grider
Dillon Dewey Hadden
Jennifer Lynn Hamrick
Leland K. Hanford
Shasta Hensolt
Randi Rebecca Heriford
Grace Marina Hernandez
Stephanie Priscilla Holm
Damian Skyler Homer-Goltz
Baylee Reims Johnson
Lauren Nicole Johnson
Madison R. Joplin
Sarah Diane Kidd
Rebecca L. Kohl
Stacy R. Lindsey
Nikaya Faith Lundeen
Alex J. Lynch
Izak A. Mahoney
Theresa M. Martin
Meg M. McMahon
Tea M. Miale
Brooke Nielsen
Rhett Montana Clark Oellrich
Courtney Ann Opie
Nathan Adam Orozco
Samuel R. Page
Alexandra Juliet Parker-Garza
Kaylee Nicole Pavao
Jordan Bryce Peck
Lucas Christopher Persson
Chloe Plummer
Jade Pruett
Alyssa K. Ramirez
Michael David Reis
Amie L. Riggs
Ron J. Roberson
Jason Michael Ross
Jake Aaron Sanchez
Keandre Lashon Santiago
Richard A. Seago
Chonne Marie Shatswell
Comfort Joy Shirley
Tamara Adele Snell
Megan Carie Snyder
Ilene Yvette Stamps
Dwayne Ray Stearns
Brandon Michael Steele
Meagan Elizabeth Sullivan
Jordan Ray Taylor
Pierce A. Tolbert
Jonah J. Vassar
Steven Anthony Von Berckefeldt
Elvin B. Wance
Stephanie Ann Wise
Rebecca M. Yaecker
Soulsbyville, CA
Luke David Andrews
Christa Lorraine Covert
Steven J.M. Hinshaw
Steven Point, CA
Lamu S. Ryavec
Stockton, CA
Justin W. Clemens
Shalom Michaela Fletcher
Jonathan Glen Oberg
Sun Valley, ID
Colby C. Benz
Sutter Creek, CA
Hunter James Jolley
Bayley Andrew Maleske
Stephanie Viola Norman
Topsham, ME
April May Howard
Tuolumne, CA
Victoria Syndey Brick
Justin M. Eisler
Nicholas R. Graham
Niki Marie Barbara Roberts
Darryl Johnathon Tinkle
Gabriel B. Walker
Joshua Ray Wozynski
Turlock, CA
Rex QG Doo
Twain Harte, CA
Sheila Anne Blackburn
Krislyn Ashley Ann Boitano
Hayley Michelle Broxham
Colton Brian Ebbers
Jessica Elizabeth Hodge
Hailey E. Hurst
Sonya Elizabeth Klyn
Lauren A. Macon
Anthony Gabriel Marcoccia
Jeremy J. Ortmann
Brenda C. Rager (pronounced Reger)
Judah Robert Wilk
Vallecito, CA
Nicole Diane Ayala
Valley Springs, CA
Ana Michelle Bobrycki
Darlene Marie Gibson
Brandi O. Kleier
Leilani R. Lujan
Angela Grace Materne
Kyra (Keer-ah) Irene Miles
Emily A. Polinsky
Lydia Nicole Smith
Waterford, CA
Casey Lee Custer
Mallory Lynn Maloney
West Point, CA
Tyler James Chavez
Wishon, CA
Seth Robert Patterson



The Symphony of the Sierra’s 2019 Spring Concert will be held at Columbia College, Dogwood Forum, at 3:00 PM on Saturday, May 4. The set offers a balance between popular music and favorites of classical repertoire. The orchestra is happy to present Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain, and Star Wars Epic featuring music from the original Star Wars trilogy, among others.

This season, the Symphony is excited to feature guest artist Alan “Weaver” Copeland and Friends. Alan Copeland is a Grammy Award winning musician who has worked with artists such as Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra and was a member of The Modernaires, a group that had the pleasure of performing alongside Glenn Miller.

Students from the Sierra Strings Outreach Project, founded by violinist Makena Clark, will be performing at the concert. Makena is extremely passionate about teaching and advocating for the arts. She teaches at Sierra Waldorf School and maintains a large private strings studio. Ms. Clark is a section violinist with the Reno Philharmonic and also performs with the Stockton Symphony and the Sacramento Philharmonic.

This concert will also feature Columbia College music students as soloists. Tyler Van Zuiden will play Carl Maria von Weber’s Bassoon Concerto in F Major. Aaron David will be playing Vittorio Monti’s Czardas arranged for tuba and brass band. Phoenix Farris will be playing Flute Concerto No. 1 in G Major by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Admittance to the concert is free of charge and all are welcome to attend.


The Columbia College Foundation and its community partners will present more than $120,000 in scholarships to qualified and deserving students at the annual Columbia College Scholarship and Awards Celebration on Thursday, April 18.  The event, 4:30-5:30 pm at the Dogwood Forum on campus, features student and community speakers, musical performances, and presentation of the Student of the Year awards.

Speakers at Thursday’s event include Student of the Year Danea Palmer who is a science student planning to transfer to UC Santa Barbara, re-entry student Max Golay who is working toward a nursing degree, and community donor, Jon Whited, who works closely with the college’s hospitality management program and funds a scholarship for those students.

In the 2018-2019 academic year, the Foundation and community partners awarded more than 160 scholarships to more 90 students, totaling more $120,000 in support for their educational expenses. Many of these scholarships are contributed by community organizations and individuals, many are offered annually through the Foundation’s endowed funds, and more than 20 each year are funded through the Foundation’s Osher Scholarship Endowment, established in partnership with the Bernard Osher Foundation, the Foundation for California Community Colleges and community donors.

Columbia College students are encouraged to apply for scholarships each fall. Criteria for awards vary depending on donors’ preferences which include area of study, academic excellence, volunteer involvement, or financial need.

“A college degree opens many doors,” noted Dr. Santanu Bandyopadhyay, College President. “By providing scholarships and recognizing the talent of local students, Columbia College Foundation is helping our area residents to be productive members of society tomorrow. This is made possible by the generosity of all donors who contribute to the Foundation. It is your vision and philanthropy that encourage our students to move forward toward a successful career.”

The college is proud of the fact that it has so many campus donors support student scholarships. Student clubs, employee groups, and dozens of individual faculty, staff, and retirees fund annual scholarships and awards through the Foundation.

Colette Such, Columbia College Foundation President added, “What a privilege it is to do this work. While reading through these many scholarship applications, I find inspiration from the applicants’ struggle, their courage, their grit, their hope and their promise. They are all so very worthy. Thank you to all our donors who have made these scholarships possible.

The Columbia College Foundation is a community nonprofit established in 1972 to promote quality higher education that enriches the academic, economic, and cultural life of our community. The Foundation’s mission is to promote student success by providing community resources that support and expand educational opportunities for Columbia College students. Donations to the Columbia College Foundation are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.  

Questions about the Foundation should be directed to Amy Nilson, Director of Development, at (209) 588-5055 or


Community Job Fair Organized by Columbia College and Mother Lode Job Training

Columbia College will hold a Community Job Fair that is cosponsored with Mother Lode Job Training. The event will host 66 employers and will take place on Friday, April 5 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on the Columbia College campus in the Oak Pavilion. Job seekers are encouraged to bring their résumé, dress for success, and be ready to discuss their experience and skills with prospective employers at the event.

The event is organized through a partnership with Mother Lode Job Training. Mary Watts, Columbia College Career & Transfer Center Program Technician, shared that area employers are looking for job applicants in many fields including public utilities, forestry, healthcare, education, hospitality management, fire, and administrative support. Employers are looking to hire full-time, part-time, and seasonal positions. “I encourage job seekers to attend to find out about the wonderful opportunities available in our community, network with employers, and practice their “elevator pitch” to employers.”

The event is by far the largest job fair in Calaveras and Tuolumne counties serving local area residents with many small, medium, and large employers attending from throughout the region, including:

  • Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System
  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  • CalFire
  • Tuolumne Utilities District
  • S. Forest Service
  • Sierra Pacific Industries
  • California State Parks
  • Condor Earth Technologies
  • Adventist Health Sonora
  • Calaveras Winegrape Alliance
  • Calaveras County Water District
  • …and; county, state, and federal government representatives.

The purpose of the event is to connect job seekers at the college, or those in the community, with employers to learn more about the different positions available, make valuable connections, and potentially find employment. Columbia College student Kathy Marquez secured an internship with the U.S. Forest Service after attending the 2018 job fair and said it “will look good on my resume and hopefully be a foot in the door.”

The event will feature eight information session panels on careers in hospitality management, natural resources, law enforcement, health, fire, education, the arts, and the military. The panels will feature industry experts providing valuable information on their profession and how to get a job in that field.

Parking will be relaxed on April 5th, so that attendees will not need to purchase a parking permit the day of the event.  Columbia College and Mother Lode Job Training are equal opportunity employers. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request at the event for individuals with disabilities. For more information contact, Mary Watts, Columbia College Career & Transfer Center Program Technician at (209) 588-5273,, visit or

Columbia College Hosts Occupational Olympics

Columbia College will host several hundred high school students for the 19th annual Occupational Olympics to be held on Friday, April 5, 2019. The contests will run from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with the award ceremony immediately following in the Dogwood Building.

Students from Tuolumne County will compete in seven separate events that challenge them to think critically in a contextual environment.  The events include automotive, cosmetology, digital photography, fire technology, hospitality management, forestry & natural resources, and welding.

Dr. Santanu Bandyopadhyay, President of Columbia College says, “Exposing high school students to a college campus and challenging them to think critically is a fun way to prepare the future generation of college students. We are delighted to partner with the local high schools to host the program.”

Students from Tuolumne, Calaveras, and Mariposa County High Schools will be competing. The Superintendents from the participating high schools and the Columbia College President, Dr. Santanu Bandyopadhyay will be presenting the awards.

For more information, contact:

Columbia College

Career Technical Education & Economic Development

Office: 209.588.5142


Columbia College Awarded $100,000 State Grant for Currently and Formerly Incarcerated Students Reentry Program

Columbia College has received an Intent to Award Notification for a $100,000 grant to support the expansion and improvement of the College’s programs serving currently and formerly incarcerated students. The grant is being awarded by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) Division of Educational Services and has a performance period of two years, six months beginning on July 1, 2019 and ending on December 31, 2021.

Over the past four years Columbia College has worked closely with Sierra Conservation Center (SCC) to expand educational opportunities for incarcerated students. The college started with a small pilot program at SCC, providing a few face-to-face courses and academic and career counseling to 40 incarcerated students in the fall of 2015. Enrollment has since grown to approximately 300 students in the spring of 2019 at the main prison and four prison fire camps.

In addition to the fast-growing prison education program, Columbia College has also launched the Making Alternative Transformations (MAT) program, a complementary on-campus program designed to assist formerly incarcerated or justice involved students to transition to the campus and the community. The goal has been to provide high-quality higher education programs which are responsive to their unique needs, while providing additional services to support their efforts to reintegrate into their communities.

“Expanding educational opportunities to the incarcerated students is an area of focus for Columbia College. We have more than doubled the number of courses offered at Sierra Conservation Center during the last year, remarked Dr. Santanu Bandyopadhyay, President of Columbia College. “Although the growth is impressive, there is still a large segment of the incarcerated population who do not have access to education. Having access to education helps the students prepare for life once they are free and helps reduce recidivism rate. We are delighted to have this grant that will enable us to expand our services further.”

Dr. Brandon Price, Dean of Student Services, will oversee the implementation of the grant.  He explained “This grant will enable the college to better meet the needs of the justice involved students we currently serve, while also enabling us to serve additional students from inmate firefighting camps, local jails, and day reporting agencies.”  Activities to be funded by the grant include: providing faculty and staff access to training related to the specific needs of justice-involved students; expanding transition services, such as college and career counseling; and expanding peer tutoring and mentoring programs serving justice involved students at SCC and on the Columbia College campus.

This award will allow Columbia College to continue build upon the framework of their Justice-Involved Student Reentry Program and provide necessary supports which will increase opportunity and access to currently and formerly incarcerated students, increase retention rates, support strong academic performance by program participants, promote informed and appropriate pathway goals and objectives, and build long-term and sustainable transition programs for justice-involved students in the area.

For more information, contact Brandon Price, Dean of Student Services at 209-588-5142.