Category Archives: Campus News

Speakers explore today’s California Native American experience

The Columbia College Foundation will host an enlightening look at the changes and challenges of today’s Native American experience Thursday, November 16.  Speakers include author and ethnic studies professor Dr. Melissa Moreno of Woodland Community College, Carlos Geisdorff (Me-Wuk), Cultural Coordinator of the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk, and Columbia College Counselor Stephanie Beaver (Hupa) who will moderate. The event, held during National Native American Heritage Month, will be held at the Dogwood Forum at Columbia College and is free to the public. Doors will open at 6pm and the evening’s program will run from 6:30-8pm.

The November 16 program continues a community lecture series hosted by the Columbia College Foundation in cooperation with college faculty and regional partners.  The November 16 lecture is presented with community partners Chicken Ranch Rancheria and Chicken Ranch Casino, and the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians and Black Oak Casino Resort.

Beaver is the event organizer, and noted that perspectives of Native California people are important to invite and showcase, especially in a college setting. “This will give a missing voice and perspective in a larger public system,” Beaver said. “It’s great for natives and non-natives alike – it will help everyone gain formal academic knowledge and cultural insight they may not have had access to. It’s great for anyone who works with native people or has a desire to understand native history and present experiences. Who couldn’t benefit from that?”

“This is a chance to hear from and learn more about a vital part of our local culture, and to help bring light to their story and the history of California,” said Colette Such, Columbia College Foundation President. “The Foundation is pleased to help bring these speakers together for an enlightening and educational evening.”

For more information, visit or call (209) 588-5065.

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. Our mission is to promote student success by providing community resources that support and expand educational opportunities for Columbia College’s students. Learn more at or call (209) 588-5055.

Columbia College Tennis Court Practice Wall

Columbia College is pleased to announce the addition of a new practice wall to enhance its tennis courts.  The wall measures twelve by eighty feet, and can accommodate multiple players at one time.

Practice walls are recognized as important additions to everyday practice routines for both beginners and those developing their game. The project was developed under the leadership of Jeff Fitzwater, a Columbia College counselor and tennis enthusiast.  Funding was provided by the Columbia College Foundation and contributions made by the local tennis community. The facility is open to the public on a first-come, space-available basis.



Columbia College Receiving Accreditation Review Visit October 2-5, Open Forums Scheduled

Columbia College will receive an accreditation site visit–from representatives of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges– from October 2 through October 5 as part of the process to reaffirm accreditation.

Modesto Junior College, Columbia’s sister college in the Yosemite Community College District, also will undergo accreditation review at that time.

Open forums at both colleges have been scheduled to provide an opportunity for the public, all employees, students and members of the college community to meet and communicate with the ACCJC Evaluation team.

The forums at Columbia College will be held on Tuesday, October 3 from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. and on Wednesday, October 4 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Both forums are located in the Dogwood building at the college on 11600 Columbia College Drive, Sonora.

For further details about the forums, please call 209-588-5115.  Information about the accreditation process can be found online at

Columbia College Foundation receives $2 million endowment gift from local family

The Columbia College Foundation is thrilled to announce that it has received an endowment gift of more than $2 million from the Wise Family Charitable Trust. The trust was established through the family estate of three long-time Columbia College benefactors and community leaders: Don Brady, Millie Brady Wise and John Wise.

Don BradyMillie Brady WiseJohn Wise

This gift culminates decades of support from the Brady and Wise families, and is by far the largest contribution ever received by the college Foundation. In an agreement with the family, the endowment will remain invested, and proceeds will provide ongoing annual support for two Foundation programs:

  • The Promise Scholarship Program, which will provide one year tuition free for local high school graduates who attend Columbia College full-time immediately after high school. This new scholarship program will launch in Fall 2018 as a three-year pilot. The endowment will ensure long-term viability for the program by covering more than a third of the expected annual scholarships.
  • The Mini Grant Program, which was launched with the support of the Wise Family Trust in 2011, has been providing campus grants for faculty, student groups and campus improvements every semester since its inception.  The endowment will provide full funding for this program on an annual basis.

Reflecting on the impact of this remarkable gift, Columbia College President Dr. Angela Fairchilds states “It is the dream of every college president to be on the receiving end of such generosity and support for the institution.  Some 50 years ago, the Brady and Wise families were instrumental in creating the vision for Columbia College as a vibrant center of learning in the Sierra foothills and their ongoing support has helped make that vision a reality”.

Colette Such, President of the Columbia College Foundation, is thrilled with this groundbreaking gift.  “The Brady and Wise families bring a long history of generous and far reaching support of Columbia College,” she said, “and this latest gift, which has set in motion the promise of education to our graduating high school seniors, is beyond measure. This gift brings the potential of altering the lives of our students and our community for generations to come. The Foundation is truly honored to be entrusted with this legacy.”

Ms. Such announced that the Brady/Wise Family will be honored in special ceremonies as the College dedicates the Library Plaza in recognition of their endowment gift to support the Mini Grant Program and the Promise Scholarship Fund. Plans for that event are in the works for next fall, as part of Columbia College’s 50th Anniversary.

The Wise Family Charitable Trust was established in 2005, with the intent to make regular distributions to several local groups including the Columbia College Foundation. Don and Millie’s daughter, Margaret Brady Hunter was the administrator of the trust.  Since 2006, the Foundation has received more than $240,000 from the Trust to support campus scholarships, the mini grant program, memorial scholarships, library programs and the Columbia College Oral History Project.  The Trust was closed in July with a final distribution of stock.

Expressing the wishes of her parents, Margaret Brady Hunter remarked how important it was to know the gift would help make it possible for all local youth to have a quality education.   Lynne Jerome, John Wise’s daughter and a Tuolumne resident said, “It’s incredibly fitting that the remainder of the trust goes to the college and these projects. I am very pleased.”

Directors of the Columbia College Foundation formally accepted the gift at their last board meeting, and noted that the endowment provides such a strong foundation for two significant projects.

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.

Foundation Board Members

Columbia College Foundation 2017-18 Board of Directors (from left) Front row: Rosetta Bannwarth, Margie Bulkin. Middle row: Louise Goicoechea, Colette Such, Lee Ann Fox, Jan Verhage, Judy Myers, Janice Nelson. Back row: Jim Roeber, Bill Dunlavy (deceased), Stephanie Suess, Kenan McDonald, John Freer, Jeff Phillips, Charles Segerstrom, Del Hodges.

Additional Information about the Brady/Wise Family

Donald S. Brady, Mildred Brady Wise, and John R. Wise all have a long history with Columbia College dating back to its founding years:

  • Donald S. Brady, a Sonora pharmacist and co-owner of drug stores in Sonora and Twain Harte, was an active civic leader and education advocate. He served as a trustee for the Yosemite Community College District from 1964 until his death in 1975 at the age of 49. He was a leader in the early efforts to establish Columbia College, and worked tirelessly with district officials to secure the site for the new campus, garner community support and oversee both construction and the early years of operation.  Don and his wife, Millie, raised two sons and a daughter in Sonora. Don was among the first three community members named to the Columbia College Hall of Fame when it was started in 1990.
  • Mildred Brady Wise, co-owner of the family businesses, was a civic leader in education, the arts and at her church. She joined Don in efforts to secure the site for the new college. After Don’s death, Millie married John R. Wise of Tuolumne, and the two continued their community leadership, until Millie’s death at the age of 80 in 2005.  Millie remained a supporter of the college throughout her life, donating to the library, establishing scholarships and contributing generously to other campus projects.
  • John R. Wise — John was the owner and developer of the Tuolumne Telephone Company, and a very involved civic leader who supported many local projects and causes throughout his life. He and his first wife, Florence, had four children and worked to build the telephone company into a successful small utility. He was a dedicated member of the Summerville High School Board and helped to pass its bond measure. After Florence’s death in 1975, John married Millie, and the two continued their work as community advocates, church leaders and philanthropists, supporting many community causes and groups in the arts, health care and education. He passed away in 2005, at the age of 90, just two weeks after Millie.






















Columbia College’s Foster Youth Program Receives $20,000 Contribution

Columbia College’s Foster Youth Program Receives $20,000 Contribution
Contribution from AT&T supports school’s college success program

On September 20th, Columbia College will announce that AT&T is making a $20,000 contribution to the college’s innovative Foster Youth Success Initiative during a ceremony held at the college at 10 AM in the Manzanita Building (upper level).

The funds will be used to support this Foster Youth college success program which provides transportation assistance, peer group and counseling support along with access to other social services that can assist foster youth persist through college graduation.

The contribution is part of AT&T Aspire, the company’s signature philanthropic initiative and financial commitment of $400 million since 2008 to drive innovation in education and promote student success in school and beyond.

“We are very grateful to AT&T for this significant contribution to our Foster Youth program,” said Angela Fairchilds, President of Columbia College. “AT&T understands the importance of education and support services to help youth stay in school and succeed academically.”

Columbia College recognizes that students who are in the foster care system often face significant challenges. In order to support foster youth to overcome these challenges and reach their educational goals, the College offers a variety of support services for current and former foster youth.

The Foster Youth Success Initiative also partners with a number of local and regional public, private and tribal agencies that serve those who have been in the foster care system.  Through this collaborative network, students are referred to appropriate sources of support to meet their individual needs.

“Foster youth face many unique challenges when trying to obtain a quality education,” said Julie Tone, Director of External Affairs, AT&T California. “AT&T is proud to support this college success program to improve the lives of foster youth in Tuolumne County.”

About Philanthropy & Social Innovation at AT&T

AT&T is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. Through its community initiatives, AT&T has a long history of investing in projects that create learning opportunities; promote academic and economic achievement; or address community needs. The company’s signature philanthropic initiative, AT&T Aspire, drives innovation in education to promote student success in school and beyond. With a financial commitment of $400 million since 2008, AT&T is leveraging technology, relationships and social innovation to help all students make their biggest dreams a reality.

About Columbia College 

Centered in the Sierra foothills, Columbia College offers students of diverse backgrounds many opportunities for discovery and success. Through a supportive and engaging learning environment, students master foundational skills, explore their passions, attain degrees and certificates, and pursue career and transfer pathways. We collaborate with surrounding communities to cultivate intellectual, cultural and economic vitality. Columbia College inspires students to become inquisitive, creative, and thoughtful life-long learners.

“Come and eat our homework”

“Come and eat our homework”

Columbia College is excited to announce the re-opening of the Cellar Bistro and the newly renovated hospitality facilities in the lower level of the Manzanita building.

Thanks to the enormous support of local voters passing Measure E in 2004, we were able to remodel and update facilities across campus to promote student safety and success. The hospitality facilities have been renovated with state-of-the-art equipment that will promote learning through hands-on experience in food production and customer service. Each semester, faculty, staff and students as well as the public can enjoy food prepared by students under the direction of faculty in the Cellar Bistro. Front-of-house courses in Dining Room Service Management allow students to serve guests in a realistic setting.

Beginning Wednesday September 13, 2017, the Cellar Bistro will re-open to the public, continuing the past tradition of its Wednesday night dinners to offer themed meals.

The newly renovated culinary space is not only designed to provide a delightful dining experience for its community, but a modern teaching facility for hospitality management students. Students will master best practices in the food production and service industry, allowing them to go into the workforce with high-quality skills and experience.

The public and campus community is invited to the official ribbon cutting ceremony prior to the YCCD Board meeting at Columbia College on October 11, 2017 at 2:30 p.m.

For more information, contact:
Dr. Klaus Tenbergen
Dean of Career Technical Education & Economic Development
Office: 209.588.5142
Cell: 559.994.6434


Columbia College Foundation Plans Promise Scholarship Opportunity

Columbia College Foundation plans Promise Scholarship opportunity

The Columbia College Foundation is pleased to announce an exciting new scholarship opportunity for local high school seniors enrolling at Columbia College beginning in fall 2018.  This new program, the Columbia College Promise Scholarship, will make it possible for every qualified local public high school graduate to attend Columbia College fulltime, tuition free, for two consecutive semesters if they enroll immediately after graduation.  The program will be a three year pilot, funded by gifts from individuals and community partners who care deeply about education for our local youth.

The Promise Scholarship program will 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.  Once implemented, the program will 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.

Reflecting on the possible impact of this program, Columbia College President Dr. Angela Fairchilds remarked that “when Columbia College opened its doors 50 years ago, our founders had a dream of making education available and accessible to all our local youth.  The Promise Scholarship does just that by welcoming all local high school graduates to continue their education, tuition free, at Columbia College. “

Schools included in the program are:  Sonora Union High School District, Summerville Union High School District (including Connections Academy and Gold Rush Charter School), Big Oak Flat-Groveland Unified School District, Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Alternative Education and Bret Harte High School in Calaveras County.

To qualify for the first year of the Promise Scholarship, a student must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Be a 2018 graduate from a public Tuolumne County high school or Bret Harte High School in Calaveras County. Graduates in 2019 and 2020 will be eligible in the fall semester immediately after they graduate.
  • Reside within the boundaries of the Yosemite Community College District.
  • Apply for FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) prior to completing the Promise Scholarship application.
  • Enroll at Columbia College for Fall 2018 as a full time student carrying at least 12 units.

Additional information will be posted on the Columbia College website and Facebook pages, and will be available to families in fall 2017, through their school counselors.

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.

CC Foundation Board Members

Columbia College Foundation Board of Directors (from left) Front row: Rosetta Bannwarth, Margie Bulkin. Middle row: Louise Goicoechea, Colette Such, Lee Ann Fox, Jan Verhage, Judy Myers, Janice Nelson. Back row: Jim Roeber, Bill Dunlavy, Stephanie Suess, Kenan McDonald, John Freer, Jeff Phillips, Charles Segerstrom, Del Hodges.


Columbia College has named 184 students to the spring 2017 semester President’s List. We are pleased to officially recognize their exceptional scholastic achievement.

This acknowledgment is reserved for students completing twelve or more units of semester coursework at Columbia College and earning a cumulative grade point average between 3.5 and 4.0, with no grade lower than “C.”

Columbia College spring 2017 President’s List students are listed below by city.

Michael Keller Altaville
Trenton Bennett Angels Camp
Justin Clemens Angels Camp
Ashlen Mayben Angels Camp
Erica Roberts Angels Camp
Christian Wilson Angels Camp
Jeremiah Wilson Angels Camp
Ronald Hawkins Arnold
Kathleen Stone Arnold
Gwendolyn Craig Big Bear City
Connor Malloy Big Oak Flat
Mayada Leonard Buena Park
Clifford Armstrong Chinese Camp
Kai Bannister Columbia
Ethan Hinman Columbia
Amy McQueary Columbia
Fanjaharilanto Rasoavero Drake Columbia
Michael Storey Columbia
Kyle Wolfe Columbia
Justin Barnes Copperopolis
Megan Graham Copperopolis
Kimberly Busby Coulterville
Scott Burroughs El Dorado Hills
Kyle Harp Hughson
William Brown Jamestown
Sophia Dragun Jamestown
Kierin Harrison Jamestown
Kristi Insilan Jamestown
Brendon Kamler Jamestown
Donna Miller Jamestown
Mona Mohr Jamestown
Emily Moore Jamestown
Jaymie Roberts Jamestown
Heidi Schuler Jamestown
Rachel Van Winkle Jamestown
Amber Wichman Jamestown
Melvin Wignall Jamestown
Michael Pondela Kailua Kona, HI
Kennedy Bruce La Grange
Heidi Ekstrum La Grange
Kirstin Leventhal La Grange
Kirsten Hall Livermore
Kaeah Domenech Lodi
Courtney Young Los Angeles
Cynthia Harmon Mariposa
Maria Makhina Mariposa
Gemamiah Battle Mi Wuk Village
Jordan Henderson Mi Wuk Village
Adam Radzikowski Mi Wuk Village
Erik Juncker Modesto
Alex McDonald Modesto
Robert Slankard Mokelumne Hill
Channing Harris Mountain Ranch
Tania Hernandez Murphys
Danea Palmer Murphys
Alexandra Rader Murphys
Bethanni Riedel Murphys
Nathan Steele Murphys
Carley Thomas Murphys
Riana Willis Murphys
Daniel Eggert Novato
Marina Braaton Oakdale
Wade Branch Oakdale
Bethany Cochran Oakdale
Shannon Courtney Oakdale
Kaylee De Ruyter Oakdale
Dimitri Lolonis Oakdale
Breanna Perez Oakdale
Lena Schulke Oakdale
Christina Scott Oakdale
Tanner Smith Oakdale
Lucas Syljuberget Oakdale
Kevin Tillery Oakdale
Michael Tripp Oakdale
Victoria Jordan Ripon
Micayla Nelson Riverbank
Kevin Carley San Andreas
Alyssa Flaming San Andreas
Carina Swann San Andreas
Alexander Adam Sonora
Nolan Adam-Chinn Sonora
Sean Adams Sonora
Autumn Alexander Sonora
Mikaela Amayawood Sonora
Joshua Andal Sonora
Erik Anderson Sonora
Jessica Anselmi Sonora
Emily Beluardo Sonora
Keeley Benton Sonora
Patricia Hazel Bibal Sonora
Moorea Boardman Sonora
Alaina Brosnan Sonora
Matthew Burbey Sonora
Maria Clark Sonora
Derek Colon Sonora
Dustin Costello Sonora
Brendan Danicourt Sonora
Ashley Dearden Sonora
Barbara Farkas Sonora
Kelley Figley Sonora
Selina Flores Sonora
Aren Forster Sonora
Kailie Fredrickson Sonora
Sarah Gaestel Sonora
Christa Gentry Sonora
Christopher Goebel Sonora
Alfonso Gonzalez-Mora Sonora
Ondrea Gundlach Sonora
Lalayna Hablutzel Sonora
Dillon Hadden Sonora
Cory Hall Sonora
Danny Harthun Sonora
Matthew Hedge Sonora
Briauna Hoffman Sonora
Jillian Huntsinger Sonora
Logan Johnson Sonora
Timothy Justice Sonora
James Kress Sonora
Amanda Lancaster Sonora
Hillary Liljedahl Sonora
Nicole Lund Sonora
Nikaya Lundeen Sonora
Teyana Lundeen Sonora
Sydney Lyon Sonora
Theresa Martin Sonora
Aniko Meszaros Sonora
Martin Mills Sonora
Catelin Moody Sonora
Travis Moore Sonora
Leah Muncy Sonora
Melissa Murry Sonora
Sabrina Nash Sonora
Derek Nilsen Sonora
Samuel Page Sonora
Josephine Price Sonora
Peter Ratto Sonora
Samuel Savage Sonora
Jeremy Scheller Sonora
Christopher Shepard Sonora
Breena Smith Sonora
Zachary Sohl Sonora
Maddison Stevens Sonora
Austen Thibault Sonora
Dawn Thompson Sonora
Anthony Trujillo Sonora
Jamie Ulibarri Sonora
Tyler Van Zuiden Sonora
Stephanie Lyka Viceral Sonora
Megan Vistica Sonora
Gabrielle Chipponeri Soulsbyville
David Ervin Soulsbyville
Bill Hurst Soulsbyville
Leah Johnson Soulsbyville
Logan Van Bezey Soulsbyville
Summer Williams Standard
Shalom Fletcher Stockton
Derek Goodrich Stockton
Amanda Hummel Sutter Creek
Melody Brown Tuolumne
Jeremy Dillon Tuolumne
Ryley Durling Tuolumne
Jonah Funk Tuolumne
Stephanie Hart Tuolumne
Kyland Jardine Tuolumne
Alexander McKeon Tuolumne
Dylan Miguel Tuolumne
Shelby Roberts Tuolumne
Jessie Rush Turlock
Sheila Blackburn Twain Harte
Clint Heller Twain Harte
Lindsay Macon Twain Harte
Sofia Marcoccia Twain Harte
Brenda Rager Twain Harte
Natasha Smith Twain Harte
Dylan Souza Twain Harte
Nathaniel Ulvevadet Twain Harte
John Yim Twaine Hart
Elle Burton Vallecito
Shane Ekstrum Vallecito
Karli Gerlinger Valley Springs
Gregory McInturf Valley Springs
Kyra Miles Valley Springs
Ryley Nordahl Valley Springs
Emily Polinsky Valley Springs