Category Archives: Campus News

42nd Annual Columbia Wine Tasting To Benefit Columbia College Hospitality Management Program

The Columbia College Foundation will host the 42nd Annual Columbia Wine Tasting – a benefit event from 1:00 to 4:00pm SUNDAY, April 15 to support the Columbia College Hospitality Management Program.

“The Columbia event provides wine enthusiasts a chance to sample local wineries and restaurants alongside a number of California’s favorite producers while visiting unique sites in the State Historic Park,” according to Tom Bender, a Hospitality instructor at Columbia College and longtime organizer of the tasting. “Many are small production wineries pouring new and limited release wines.”

Guests will be able to sample premium wines from more than 70 wineries, and enjoy hors d’oeuvres prepared by students enrolled in the Columbia College Hospitality Management Program, as well as a NEW culinary competition featuring Hospitality students and chefs from local restaurants.

Tickets can be purchased online for $55 per person in advance, or $60 per person at the event as available. Attendees receive a complimentary souvenir wine glass and wine tastings from participating wineries and food vendors. For more information or to make a reservation, visit or call (209) 588-5089. The Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau is a new sponsor for this year’s event.


Contact:  Columbia College Hospitality Management Program – Don Dickinson, Program Coordinator            (209) 588-5135

WHAT: 42nd Annual Columbia Wine Tasting

WHEN: Sunday, April 15, 2018, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

WHERE: Columbia State Historic Park


Columbia College has named 182 students to the fall 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 fall 2017 President’s List students are listed below by city.

Riley Jackson Acampo
Jesus Avila Altaville
Savannah Mattingly Angels Camp
Sarahi Terrones Angels Camp
Christian Wilson Angels Camp
Jeremiah Wilson Angels Camp
Ronald Hawkins Arnold
Jake Hylton Arnold
Jalen Enoch Bedford
Gwendolyn Craig Big Bear City
Marshall Williams Boulder Creek
Kai Bannister Columbia
Aaron David Columbia
Amy McQueary Columbia
Martin Mills Columbia
Fanjaharilanto Rasoavero Drake Columbia
Justin Barnes Copperopolis
Shaelyn Hamari Copperopolis
Kimberly Busby Coulterville
Alicia Encoyand Coulterville
Cody Henderson Coulterville
Mary McDermand Coulterville
Daniel Wegner Danville
Nolan Adam-Chinn Douglas Flat
Ashley Del Ponte Escalon
Audrey Orr Escalon
Anthony Felts Groveland
Ethan Yeadon Hathaway Pines
Munro Meyers Herald
Alaric Adams Jamestown
William Brown Jamestown
Dalton Butow Jamestown
Ian Cicero Jamestown
Andrew Derichsweiler Jamestown
Brett Dolan Jamestown
Sonja Gion Jamestown
Blanca Gonzalez Jamestown
Kristi Insilan Jamestown
Madison Joplin Jamestown
William Krein Jamestown
Levi Lowe Jamestown
Amandalyn Madlin Jamestown
Mona Mohr Jamestown
Nathan Orozco Jamestown
Juan Salmeron Jamestown
Peter Tidball Jamestown
Melvin Wignall Jamestown
Nicole Wilkins Jamestown
Trevell Wilson Jamestown
Kennedy Bruce La Grange
Jerry Cameron La Grange
Kirstin Leventhal La Grange
Anna Pellegrini La Grange
Joshua Sunday La Grange
Jay Mehta Lathrop
John Coose Linden
Kirsten Hall Livermore
David Ring Lodi
Cynthia Harmon Mariposa
Maria Makhina Mariposa
David Azevedo Merced
Annie Curtis Mountain Ranch
Max Golay Murphys
Emma Hampton Murphys
Savannah Luis Murphys
Eric Pellegrino Murphys
Bethanni Riedel Murphys
Elena Smith Murphys
Rebecca Smith Murphys
Daniel Alexander Oakdale
Samantha Esquivel Oakdale
Patrick Fabry Oakdale
Steven Gazdik Oakdale
Bastian Jimenez Oakdale
Dimitri Lolonis Oakdale
Magaly Marin Oakdale
Kaitlyn Mast Gruidl Oakdale
Juan Reyes Oakdale
Daniel Rodriguez Oakdale
Christina Scott Oakdale
Colin Maguire Petaluma
Rafael Soto Pittsburg
Stephanie Riley Rail Road Flat
Claudia Vargas Riverbank
Jared Cragun San Andreas
Shasta Garcia San Andreas
Keifer Minehart San Andreas
Carina Swann San Andreas
Michael Wilmshurst San Andreas
Alexander Adam Sonora
Alexander Arnold Sonora
Ian Austin Sonora
Emily Beluardo Sonora
Patricia Hazel Bibal Sonora
Anna Bruno Sonora
Lucas Burgess Sonora
Tamara Burgess Sonora
Theresa Campagna Sonora
Waylon Coats Sonora
Valeria Dapello Sonora
Bryce Dorflinger Sonora
Susan Elias Sonora
Shalom Fletcher Sonora
Aren Forster Sonora
Veniamin Gedarevich Sonora
Alfonso Gonzalez-Mora Sonora
Andrew Guptill Sonora
Dillon Hadden Sonora
Cory Hall Sonora
Natalie Hawks Sonora
Grace Hernandez Sonora
April Howard Sonora
Nicholas Konklin Sonora
Mark Kreuzer Sonora
Shaina Lane Sonora
Hillary Liljedahl Sonora
Stacy Lindsey Sonora
Todd Long Sonora
Nikaya Lundeen Sonora
Teyana Lundeen Sonora
Colby Mathe Sonora
Nathan Maurer Sonora
Jeremy McCall Sonora
Jessi McClenahan Sonora
Travis Moore Sonora
Melissa Murry Sonora
Madeline Odom Sonora
Savannah Oellrich Sonora
Molina Ofiana Sonora
Samuel Page Sonora
Chloe Plummer Sonora
Josephine Price Sonora
Katra Pritchard Sonora
Jade Pruett Sonora
Niki Roberts Sonora
Ian Schubert Sonora
Chonne Shatswell Sonora
Megan Snyder Sonora
Maddison Stevens Sonora
Jack Summers Sonora
Isabel Valadez Sonora
Morgan Vaughn Sonora
Stephanie Lyka Viceral Sonora
Megan Vistica Sonora
Dawn Warfield Sonora
Faith Weatheral-Block Sonora
Erin Wilson Sonora
Stephanie Wise Sonora
Bodhi Dannley-Johnston Soquel
Allie Eveleth Soulsbyville
Jennifer Milbourn Soulsbyville
Isaiah Porter Soulsbyville
Summer Williams Standard
Jonathen Villante-Keeton Stockton
Victoria Brick Tuolumne
Melody Brown Tuolumne
Glenn Cargain Tuolumne
Samantha Domser Tuolumne
Ryley Durling Tuolumne
Justin Eisler Tuolumne
Jonah Funk Tuolumne
Julia Grimes Tuolumne
Danika Lillie Tuolumne
Ashley Mikita Tuolumne
Alexandria Norvell Tuolumne
Daniel Pavlin Tuolumne
Ryan Whalen Tuolumne
Michael DeSilva Turlock
Andrew Preuss Turlock
Ayla Buck Twain Harte
Lynne Christopher Twain Harte
Patrick Cohen Twain Harte
Brenda Rager Twain Harte
Ariel Vaccarezza Twain Harte
Colin Prest Vallecito
Ana Bobrycki Valley Springs
Jayanna Cazares Valley Springs
Karli Gerlinger Valley Springs
Darlene Gibson Valley Springs
Kyra Miles Valley Springs
Jasmine Van Lehn Valley Springs
Kendall Kiely Waterford

Columbia College Receives State Grant for Fire Science Pre-Apprenticeship Initiative

Columbia College has received formal notification of the intent to award, pending Board of Governor’s approval and available funds commencing on January 18, 2018, a two-year grant to develop a new Fire Science Pre-Apprenticeship Initiative program.  The college will receive $496,804 over two years to implement the Initiative, recruit students, and launch the training with partner agencies. The award, just announced by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) Workforce and Development Division, is part of the new California Apprenticeship Initiative aimed at broadening the range of apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs available to California workers.

Columbia College is currently implementing two Apprenticeship Initiatives with similar grant funding in Hospitality Management and Child Development and is excited about expanding opportunities to other industries to provide a well-trained workforce. The Columbia College Apprenticeship Initiative Programs have registered 49 Hospitality Management apprentices since January 2017 and 18 Child Development apprentices starting their pathway in January 2018. There are 30 remaining slots for Child Development apprentices, for which the program is still accepting applications.

The new grant will fund the development of the Fire Science Pre-Apprenticeship, a pilot project that will allow high school students and adults interested in careers in firefighting to explore opportunities in Fire Service and prepare them for admission to the Columbia College Fire Academy. The program also creates a pipeline for individuals to apply to Cal-JAC, the state’s only apprenticeship in firefighting. Designed with input from partner agencies, the program is modeled on European apprenticeships, blending classroom instruction and hands-on training to prepare individuals for the intensity of a fire academy and apprenticeship.

Pre-apprenticeship programs are differentiated from Registered Apprenticeship programs in that they provide a broad-based training program in order to prepare participants for admittance to registered apprenticeship programs.

Dr. Klaus Tenbergen, Dean of Technical and Career Education & Economic Development, will oversee development and implementation of the Initiative starting in early 2018.

“This is a unique opportunity to work with local partners and agencies to develop a skilled and educated workforce for the Fire Science industry,” Tenbergen said.

Pre-apprentices will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of skills-building workshops and training through different professional agencies at partnering sites, receiving comprehensive training in a range of activities associated with firefighting. Training in other “soft skills” will be incorporated throughout. Once students complete the Initiative components as described, they will be prepared to enter the Columbia College Fire Academy, and eventually apply as apprentices with the California Firefighters Joint Apprenticeship Committee (Cal-JAC) or intern with local fire districts. If students desire, they may also pursue an Associate’s Degree in Fire Science with additional coursework.

Along with other fire agency partners in our community, the following agencies have expressed support: Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority, Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools, Mother Lode Job Training, Motherlode Workforce Investment Board, and California Firefighters Joint Apprenticeship Committee (Cal-JAC).

Other interested parties are encouraged to contact Dr. Tenbergen to be included in upcoming planning meetings to be scheduled for late February 2018.


For more information, contact:

Dr. Klaus Tenbergen

Dean of Career Technical Education & Economic Development

Office: 209.588.5142

Cell: 559.994.6434



Columbia College will present its winter concert “Symphony of the Sierra” at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 17th  in the Dogwood Theatre.

The wide-ranging repertoire promises to be a performance well worth hearing.  According to orchestra conductor, Mic Harper, “The repertoire provides an eclectic exploration of works from the late 1890’s to 2014.

Concert repertoire includes, The Children of Sanchez, South County Sketches, a medley of Duke Ellington’s works, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Procession of the Nobles, Gounod’s Marionetten—Trauermarsch, Christmas Festival by the ever-popular Leroy Anderson and more.

The concert is free and the public are invited to attend.

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

AT&T made a $20,000 contribution to the college’s innovative Foster Youth Success Initiative during a ceremony held at the college on September 20, 2017.


The funds will be used to support the 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.”

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.