Author Archives: Cari Craven

Finish Line Scholars Program NOW OPEN! Apply by June 1, 2021

COLUMBIA COLLEGE STUDENTS! Are you at least half-way to your degree or certificate at Columbia? Would $5k help you attend FULLTIME and FINISH in the next year? Check out Columbia’s new Finish Line Scholars Program.Learn more and apply by June 1 for a chance at this new opportunity for Fall 2021!

Learn more and apply online at  www.gocolumbia.edu/scholarships    Questions? Contact the Columbia College Foundation at CCFoundation@yosemite.edu or call (209) 588-5065

Offered by Columbia College Foundation and California Community  College Finish Line Scholars Program.

Addendum 4/29/21 – Columbia College Hosts Drive-Thru Commencement Ceremony

Columbia College will hold a drive-thru commencement ceremony for its Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 graduates on Friday, April 30, at 4 p.m. The drive-thru experience allows graduates and their families to be on the Columbia College campus while adhering to Tuolumne County’s health and safety protocols and providing each student with recognition.

Graduates and their families (one car per graduate) will drive through campus in their car to certain “checkpoints” and arrive at their final destination where graduates will be able to briefly exit their cars and walk across the stage to receive their diploma from Columbia College Interim President, Dr. G.H. Javaheripour and other distinguished guests.  Faculty and staff will cheer their graduates on along the path. The commencement ceremony will be live streamed through the YCCD YouTube channel beginning at 3:45 pm.  Up to date information on graduation including a link to the live stream event can be found at www.gocolumbia.edu/graduation/ .

Because of the extraordinary circumstances last year due to the COVID 19 pandemic, Columbia College cancelled its 51st Commencement Ceremony. The Class of 2020 have been invited to come back this year and participate in the drive-thru ceremony should they chose to do so.

Among the graduating class of 2021, 101 Associate of Art Degrees will be conferred, 89 Associate of Arts for Transfer Degrees, 169 Associate of Science Degrees, 41 Associate of Science for Transfer Degrees, and 91 Certificates of Achievement.  75 students will graduate with distinction (cumulative grade point averages of 3.75 or better) and 58 with honors (between 3.5 and 3.74 grade point averages).

Those who will receive more than one degree are Joseph Accurso, Brian Applegate, Tatum Avalos, Stacy Avalos, Summer Avery, Tamara Avilla, Jahbar Beard, Tiffany Bowcutt, Samuel Brauer, Trina Cachero, Rhapsody Cattedra, Michael Chapin, Franziska Daumberger, Shelly Davis, Jaret Delap, Kristina Delgadillo, Lottie Emmons, Gabriel Ethier, Levi Flores, Carmen Flores Jimenez, Alexia Franco, Raymond Frank, Westley Gelhaus, Jackson Gordon, Heather Graham, Zachary Heier, Isabel Hernandez, Shane Hopper, Francesca Immediato, Julianna Jackson, Hailey Jayne, Zoe Kelly, Rebecca Kirby, Daniel Kristofic, Zachary Lambert, Thomasine Lane Timmins, Paul Lebourgeois, Hannah Lumbus, Jaden McCaffrey, Liam McKernan, Faith Mealing, Ashley Mikita, Kaitlyn Miller, Brandon Moakler, Alyssa Motter, Virginia Oellrich, Jessica Ornelas, Austin Pruitt, Maggie Sanchez, Ethan Scott, Cody Seldon, Matthew Silva, Shivanjili Singh, Grant Smylie, Kayla Snipes, Janet Solis, Christie Straw, Alexander Temple, Chance Tillery, Sydney Tonetti-Belton, Isabella Vargas Rosales, Cristina Verduzco, Haley Weeks, Renee Woolf.

 

*Graduate with Honors

**Graduate with Distinction

Ahwahnee

Tanner Bonillas

Alameda

Maxwell Zimmer

Altaville

Trina Cachero*

Chase Collins*

Janet Solis

Mark Antonio Solis

Angels Camp

Alikhan Abusaidi*

Mario Biagi

Adrianna Castle

Shelly Davis*

Isabel Hernandez*

Grace Johnson

Zachary Lambert

Kendra Maness

Faith Mealing**

Brooke Nord*

Natalie Ramos

Grant Smylie

Brianna Tyre

Antioch

Alan McElroy**

Arnold

Devon Bitner

Hannah Braydis*

Ashton Close

Amanda Spangler

Atwater

Katherine Hamera

Bakersfield

Matthew Hafen

Camp Verde, AZ

Bryce Moss

Capitola

Joshua Williams

Camp Connell

Devon Bitner

Ceres

Anastashia Maldonado*

Chinese Camp

Tyler Orpurt

Coconut Creek, FL

Seth Coddington

Columbia

Bradley Bourguet*

Franziska Daumberger

James Fobelli

Thomasine Lane Timmins**

Cody Seldon

Cyrus Smithson

Shannon Velasco**

Julie Persing

Copperopolis

Oscar Barboza

Rachel McIntire

Alyssa Motter*

Morgan Velasco

Coulterville

Austin Pruitt

Dayton, NV

Jennifer Keyes

Eldorado Hills

Courtney Stricler

Emmett, ID

Crystal Fowler

Escalon

Michael Stime

Fresno

Eric Miller

Groveland

Stephanie Merriott

Chhoti Sherpa

Cynthia Ulloa

Gulf Breeze, FL

Bailey Kato-Dutton**

Hollister

Brandon Moakler**

Ione

Gerald Cahill

Madeline Odom

Jackson

Larry Holmes

Jamestown

Matthew Alvarez

Eugene Brown*

Isai Carmona*

Patrick Demery*

Carmen Flores Jimenez*

Raymond Frank**

Makayla Grogan

Henry Inocencio*

Olivia LaPertche

Jonathon Layes

Paul Moeller

Michael Muy*

Phong Nguyen**

Chelsea Nogales**

Paul Tanner*

Patrick Piceno**

Alexa Pierce*

Demond Richardson

Karissa Rogers

Ryan Rude**

Michael Schneider**

John Schoppe-Rico

Richard Stamps

Sophia Stevens**

Lance Swann**

Stephen Valkenaar**

Makayla Wheeler**

John Williams*

Knights Ferry

Kaeli Martinelli-Sweet

La Grange

Tatum Avalos**

Stacy Avalos**

Lizette Campos

Isabel Harper

Las Vegas

Alexander Temple**

Lincoln

Nicholas Giampaoli

Livermore

Rose Cracraft

Matthew Silva

Lodi

Kristen Dimas

Jaime Hoeke

Rachael Thompson

Long Barn

Sebastian Light

Los Gatos

Kimberlyn Quinn

Manteca

Justin Dehart

Renee Woolf**

Marina

Emily Funk*

Merced

Valerie Basso*

Mi Wuk Village

Aloha Battle

Edward Carpenter

Kristine Donschikowski

Jane Perreira

Haven Trambley

Midpines

Suzanna Ellis

Modesto

Owen Bardsley

Kirk Burkhardt

Magaly Marin

Jaquelin Ruiz

Shivanjili Singh

Kristalynn Walker

Mokelumne Hill

Kayla Snipes**

Coral Paloma

Morro Bay

Gabriella Costa

Mountain House

Zoe Kelly**

Mountain Ranch

Annie Curtis

Murphys

Nicole Avrit

Samuel Brauer

Thomas Craig

Sarah Eastwood

Emma Hampton*

Maxine Harper*

Josilyn Layton

Chelsie Moore

Jessica Ornelas**

Cloe Rowton

Sydney Tonetti-Belto**

Claire Wiley

Newman

Alexander Diaz

Alberto Flores

Tyler Taft

Oakdale

Jocelyn Burke*

Jesse Chavez

Jesus Felix

Ty Fuentes

Steven Gazdik**

Julianna Jackson

Jasmine Ledesma

Samuel Medlin

Cassidy Pricolo

Jordan Proch

Paige Rodrigues

Alejandro Rodriguez

Emily Silva Rodriguez

Yesenia Silva Rodriguez

Cristina Verduzco**

Hannah Wessling

Jodie Whitley**

Pioneer

Brennan Howard

Planada

Emma Rocha

Pleasant Hill

Olivia Hunter-Mcelro

Redding

Garrett Lenardo

Riverbank

Rhapsody Cattedra

Francesca Immediato

San Andreas

John McAllister

Kaitlyn Rodriguez

San Luis Obispo

William Stewart

Sonora

Joseph Accurso**

Katherine Aldridge

Matthew Allen

Brian Applegate*

Taetum Arnett**

Israel Avila Guzman

Rosetta Bannwarth

Allura Bilderback

Kathryn Braga

Charissa Bush

Alvin Rino Calindas**

Brittany Camara

Monica Chandler

Michael Chapin

Gage Clark

Amanda Coats

John Paul Cordes**

Mark Coulter**

Ashlee Deaton**

Kristina Delgadillo

Dylan Derringer

Tayler Duarte

Nichole Dumas-Krieger

Lottie Emmons

Amrita Encoyand

Gabriel Ethier*

Isabella Fender**

Amanda Fleming**

Shelby Fosdick

Alexia Franco**

Rianyn Fraser**

Jacob Gamble

Cheyenne Garibay

Hannah Garrett

Westley Gelhaus

Xochitl Gonzalez*

Jackson Gordon*

Heather Graham

Justin Grant

Brittan Gregory

Kendra Grider*

Kayla Harris

Amanda Hart

Katherine Harvey

Trey Hawkins*

Zachary Heier

Erik Helseth

Cassandra Herrera

Riley Hillemeyer*

John Hire**

Rebecca Holland**

Shane Hooper

Hailey Jayne**

Julie Johnson

Luke Kerzich

Rebecca Kirby**

Adam Kirby

Alison Kolberg

Noah Kolpack

Nicholas Konklin

Hannah Kremsdorf**

Daniel Kristofic

Paul Lebourgeois**

Theresa Martin

Xochitl Martinez

Jessica McClintock*

Julian Meza*

Kaitlyn Miller*

Travis Moore*

Jett Moyer*

Derek Nilsen**

Virginia Oellrich**

Jill Oellrich*

Carlo Ortiz**

Aaron Padilla*

Cole Parish

Samuel Pearce*

Melissa Ramirez

Atira Robinson

Louise Rosen*

Cathryn Salari**

Fazlollah Salari*

Maggie Sanchez

Haylie Santos

Samuel Savage

Michala Scholkowfsky

Ethan Scott**

Robert Shepherd

Ian Smith

Kelsey Stone

Christie Straw**

Kaylee Taylor**

Kristiina Thompson**

Gianna Tubbs**

Christine Vandolah*

Isabella Vargas Rosales*

Elizabeth Vass**

Steven Von Berckefeldt*

Anthony White-Ramos*

Tyreace Williams

Jeannette Wunder

Soulsbyville

Tamara Avilla**

Janay Bostic*

Paul Bruce**

Manuel Espino

Levi Flores**

Keeley Niday

Skai Sheline

Donald Swanson

Kyle Teuton

Haley Weeks*

Standard

Larissa Catrina

Katherine Harvey

Stockton

Jahbar Beard

Malachi San

Tuolumne

Summer Avery*

Marina Bailey

Tiffany Bowcutt*

Jordan Craddock**

Ariella Gaughan

Cailin Gervin**

Haleigh Grabowski

Sydney Grognet**

Candice Harrelson**

Taylor Harrelson

Makila Leveroos

Liam McKernan**

Ashley Mikita

Nicholas Ohler**

Krysta Skaar

Adam Sonnberger*

Rachel Tyler**

Turlock

Daniel Gragg

Hailee Sciarini

Twain Harte

Dorian Abare*

Hailey Baldwin

Sheila Blackburn*

Kathleen Hobbins

William Johnson Davis

Forrest Marion

Jaden McCaffrey

Ian Pinkney

Kelsey Sorrick

Chance Tillery**

Evan Zukal

Vallecito

Caitlyn Atkinson

Brooke Borba

Katie Duquette**

Valley Springs

Clara Bobrycki**

Jaret Delap

Kaytlan Gillespie-Brown

Ashlei Jones

Hannah Lumbus

Leanna Smith

Celena Torales

Caillou Watkins**

West Point

Shaney Stivers

 

Wheatland

Rudy Hinojosa

Wilseyville

Crystal Shafer

 

*Graduate with Honors

**Graduate with Distinction

Columbia College Fire Academy Graduation

Columbia College’s Fire Academy would like to announce the graduation and Certificates of Completion to the successful students of the Fire Technology Program. Students that completed Firefighter 1 and 2 will be awarded their certificates on Thursday April 29, in Carkeet Park.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony itself will be limited to students and a few dignitaries.

The certificates are awarded based on the student’s successful completion of the academic and manipulative training as mandated for a California Firefighter 1 and 2 Certification. The students must still complete six months of full-time or one year of part-time field experience before applying to the state for Firefighter 1 and 2 Certification. “Some of the graduates will apply or continue with reserve, intern, and volunteer in positions at local fire departments since entering the academy” said Chief Shane Warner, Columbia College Fire Technology Program Coordinator/Instructor.  “Some of the students have already applied through a standard application process for seasonal employment with CAL Fire, Forest Service, and local fire agencies” said Instructor Andy Van Hoogmoed.

These students have completed an intense 16 weeks of training. The rigorous training is designed to help serious candidates meet the requirements for demanding careers as professional firefighters, including more than 576 hours of academic and manipulative training, according to Chief Shane Warner.

In addition to the “routine” fire training classes, specialized training was delivered involving Incident Command System, Hazardous Materials Training, Seasonal Wildland Firefighting classes, Confined Space, Basic Power Saw Safety, and live fire suppression training which was conducted at the Twain Harte Fire Department’s Training Center. A special thank you goes out to Columbia College Fire Department, Ebbetts Pass Fire District, Columbia Fire District, Sonora City Fire Department, Twain Harte Fire Department, Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indian Rancheria Fire Department, Tuolumne City Fire Department, Mi Wuk Sugar Pine Fire Department, Tuolumne County Fire Department, CAL Fire TCU, and Sierra Conservation Center.

“Columbia College Fire Science students are always looked at as role models on our campus” said Steve Amador, Dean of Career Technical Education. “These students are hardworking and dedicated to their success.  They have completed this intensive 16 week program during the COVID-19 pandemic, and have shown their fellow students, their families, and their community that hard work can overcome the toughest of obstacles.  I am proud of each and every one them.”

For further information contact Fire Academy Chief Shane Warner at 588-5308 or Captain Andy Van Hoogmoed at 588-5153.

Columbia College Announces Partial Reopening for Summer 2021

Beginning May 3, 2021, Columbia College is planning for a partial campus reopening. As the college continues to monitor the progression of the pandemic, we are also carefully planning a safe return to in-person services.

Now that Tuolumne County has moved into the Orange Tier, access to Columbia College is increasing.  At this time, building access is still limited. Only faculty, staff, students, and prospective students should be utilizing services inside the buildings. We appreciate your patience with the restricted access to campus.

To continue mitigating the spread of COVID-19, faculty, staff, and students will be required to wear a face mask at all times and must complete a campus COVID-19 screening form before entering. All employees and students are expected to follow health guidelines established by the college, state, and county health agencies, including social distancing, hand-washing, and sanitizing surfaces. Columbia College encourages all students and employees to be vaccinated to protect themselves and others.  Vaccination is a critical recovery activity for the college and society in our return to normal operations.

On-campus, in-person services will be provided in the Manzanita building from 10 am to 2 pm Monday through Thursday.  These services include Admissions & Records, Financial Aid, Business Office, and Lakeside Cafe.  A Student Ambassador will be available for assistance with the registration process.  Limited services will also be available in Counseling and Special Programs.

The Library will be open from 8 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Thursday. The Student Center will be open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 am to 2 pm for Ponderosa Food Pantry pick up, Orientation and Campus Tours.  For more information, please call 209-588-5109.

The college is offering in-person classes on campus and at the High Sierra Institute at Baker Station, including culinary arts, fire technology, emergency medical services, biology, forestry, natural resources, and Tai Chi.  As conditions continue to improve, additional options may arise.

For a more information, please visit https://www.gocolumbia.edu/

Commencement Ceremony Participation Deadline – March 15, 2021 at 11:59 p.m.

For the first time in the history of Columbia College, a Drive Thru Commencement Ceremony will combine a vehicle parade loop with a live-streamed online event starting at 4:00pm on April 30, 2021.

Commencement Ceremony Participation Deadline – March 15, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. Availability for participation is limited, so sign up today!

 

 

For more information visit: https://www.gocolumbia.edu/graduation/

Speakers explore today’s Native American experience

WHERE:     Via Zoom https://cccconfer.zoom.us/j/91605881020

WHEN:      Wednesday, January 27, 6pm

The Columbia College Foundation will host a discussion of Native life in a special presentation Wednesday evening January 27. A regional panel of spiritual, cultural and literary leaders will offer a range of perspectives on current issues, such as urban versus rural Native life, governance structures and efforts to revitalize language and cultural traditions.

Speakers include nationally acclaimed Calaveras County author Tommy Orange (Cheyenne and Arapaho), Carlos Geisdorff (Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk), Cultural Coordinator of the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk, and Mother Lode tribal elder Bill Leonard (Southern Sierra Miwuk).

Each guest speaker will have a presentation on an area of focus:

  • Tommy Orange, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, will read from his award-winning novel There There, and discuss its themes of identity and urban Native experiences
  • Carlos Geisdorff will speak about Native cultural and language revitalization, especially in California
  • Bill Leonard will describe extensive efforts petitioning for federal recognition for Southern Sierra Miwuk tribe

Columbia College Counselor Stephanie Beaver-Guzman (Hupa) will moderate.

“It is exciting to host these diverse and well-respected Native community members,” Beaver-Guzman said. As the event organizer, she shared: “Their teachings and perspectives are so essential.  Our formal educational systems do not always create space or show value for Indigenous Knowledge, and our community can learn so much from each participant.”

The event, originally scheduled for last spring, was reorganized as a Zoom event by Beaver-Guzman and the participants.

The January 27 evening program continues a community lecture series hosted by the Columbia College Foundation in cooperation with college faculty and regional partners.  This event is co-hosted by the Columbia College Cultural Enrichment Committee.

Jeff Warren, Columbia College Foundation President, commended Beaver for her continued efforts.

“The Foundation is pleased to help bring these speakers together for an enlightening and educational evening and help provide a forum for these important voices,” he said.

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 www.gocolumbia.edu/foundation or call (209) 588-5065.

COLUMBIA COLLEGE GRADUATES FIRE ACADEMY STUDENTS

Columbia College’s Fire Academy would like to announce the graduation and Certificates of Completion to the successful students of the Fire Technology Program.

 The certificates are awarded based on the student’s successful completion of the academic and manipulative training as mandated for a California Firefighter 1 Certification. The students must still complete six months of full-time or one year of part-time field experience before applying to the state for Firefighter I Certification. “Some of the graduates will apply or continue with reserve, intern, and volunteer in positions at local fire departments since entering the academy” said Chief Shane Warner, Columbia College Fire Technology Program Coordinator/Instructor.  “Some of the students have already applied through a standard application process for seasonal employment with CAL Fire, Forest Service, and local fire agencies” said Instructor Andy VanHoogmoed.

These students have completed an intense 16 weeks of training. The rigorous training is designed to help serious candidates meet the requirements for demanding careers as professional firefighters, including more than 576 hours of academic and manipulative training, according to Chief Shane Warner.

In addition to the “routine” fire training classes, specialized training was delivered involving Incident Command System, Hazardous Materials Training, Seasonal Wildland Firefighting classes, Confined Space, Basic Power Saw Safety, and live fire suppression training which was conducted at the Twain Harte Fire Department’s Training Center. A special thank you goes out to Columbia College Fire Department, Columbia Fire District, Sonora City Fire Department, Twain Harte Fire Department, Tuolumne Bank of Me-Wuk Indian Rancheria Fire Department, Tuolumne City Fire Department, Mi Wuk Sugar Pine Fire Department, Tuolumne County Fire Department, CAL Fire TCU, and Sierra Conservation Center.

“Each of these students deserves credit for their determination and perseverance” said Steve Amador, Dean of Career Technical Education. “There is no doubt that this year has been challenging, yet these Fire Academy students have proven to themselves, and to their community that hard work can overcome obstacles, including the many difficulties we have faced this year.  I am honored to call these Fire Academy students – graduates of Columbia College.”

“The Fire Academy tests the strength of character of young men and women”, said Dr. Santanu Bandyopadhyay, President of Columbia College. “This year’s graduates deserve special recognition for overcoming the COVID-19 odds, both inside and outside the classroom. Great job, graduates!”

The traditional Columbia College Fire Academy graduation ceremony cannot be observed under the current circumstances. Once the pandemic is over, an alternate for graduation will be decided upon and the graduates will be informed accordingly.

For further information contact Fire Academy Chief Shane Warner at 588-5308 or Captain Andy VanHoogmoed at 588-5153.

Spring Classes are Open at Columbia College

The COVID-19 global pandemic has created human and economic crisis across the world in a scale not witnessed before. The pandemic has a disproportionately high impact on low-wage, high-contact jobs. Rural communities have been impacted to a greater degree due to the lack of broadband access in remote areas. As we race towards the availability of a vaccine and return to normal, one thing is certain – a well-trained, college educated labor force is more likely to be gainfully employed in the post COVID-19 era.

Columbia College has been preparing students from the Mother Lode region for the last fifty years. More often than not, earning a college degree is a passport to a well-paying job. Currently, enrollment is open for the Spring Semester. Opportunities are available for local area residents to earn a college credential in a variety of areas to improve their job prospects. A number of options are available in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Liberal Arts, Fine Arts, and Career Technical Education. During the pandemic, Columbia College is taking all precautions to keep its students and employees safe, as evidenced by the fact that throughout the Fall semester, there were no large-scale breakouts of COVID-19 on campus, despite several students and staff that came to the campus on a regular basis.

Most classes in the Spring semester will be held remotely – where one can participate in college courses from their home. If access to internet or other technology is a challenge, Columbia College has several hotspots and laptops available for students to use at no additional cost. Over 80% of students taking classes at Columbia College – qualify for financial aid. There are several opportunities available to students who need financial aid to pursue their college education. In the Spring semester, a number of additional grants are open for students, apart from the routinely available financial aid. If financial aid is a barrier to enrolling in college, please check with Columbia College to know the options available to you.

“We are here to support our students succeed in college and progress towards an economically rewarding career”, said Dr. Santanu Bandyopadhyay, President of Columbia College. “We have both fiscal and technology resources available for our students who want to enroll for classes in spring. Our well qualified and caring faculty and staff are here to support the educational journey of students from our area. Spring classes will begin on January 11, 2021.”

If you have been postponing your college education, or you know someone who is thinking about college, the time is now. Please visit www.gocolumbia.edu or call 209 588 5109 to talk to a college official.

Columbia College Cancels Claim Jumper Competition Through June 2021

SONORA, Calif. – Growing safety concerns surrounding COVID-19 and Tuolumne County’s inclusion in the recent Regional Stay Home Order have led to the cancellation of Columbia College volleyball and basketball through the spring of 2021. We remain hopeful that the 2021-2022 season will bring Athletics back to the Oak Pavilion and the community will be there to support our dedicated athletes.

Columbia College will always place the health and safety of its student-athletes, coaches, staff, and community first. This decision is disappointing, but especially so for our student-athletes, who put in countless hours preparing for a modified spring season. We are committed to our student-athletes and will continue to provide them access to health, counseling, and student-athlete support services as they continue their academic journey.

The difficult decision is made keeping primarily two aspects in mind – health of our student athletes and medical system of our community. Playing contact sports in the middle of a pandemic brings high health risk to our athletes. Moreover, if COVID-19 spreads rapidly during athletic events, our medical system, particularly ICU bed availability may be jeopardized if the need for beds exceeds the availability. By not participating in competitive sports, Columbia College expects to keep both the students and the community safer.

Making Alternative Transformations at Columbia College

Columbia College is committed to its mission of serving all students, irrespective of their background. The resources students need to be successful in college depends upon several factors such as socioeconomic status, ethnicity, access to food, shelter, etc. Columbia College offers several special programs dedicated to and targeted at students with identified needs. These special programs provide resources such as money for books, enhanced counseling, priority registration, and uses several strategies to engage students with the campus and academics. Making Alternative Transformations (MAT) is one such special program. This program is targeted at formerly incarcerated students. Research shows that formerly incarcerated students face several barriers to social integration such as restricted access to housing, jobs, social connections, etc. A combination of such factors often contributes to a higher recidivism rate that not only impacts the person, but also costs the society. Alternately, when the formerly incarcerated persons have access to college education, their chance of social rehabilitation increases significantly, helping both the individual and the society.

The MAT Program supports students in making the transition to college in a supportive learning cohort. Alicia Kolstad, Columbia College counselor, Sociology instructor, and director of the program, knows that formerly incarcerated or justice involved students need help accessing computers, applying for college and registering for classes. Even the cost of books for some of the cohort’s courses are loaned out to make it affordable. It isn’t just justice involved students that can enter this cohort, but other students in need of additional support. The program consists of a Guidance class that helps new students adjust to college life, and a computer skills course. There are computers available on loan from the Columbia College library, and hotspots which are portable data hubs for which the college pays monthly, in order to loan to students in need of WIFI or with low bandwidth. Any student that needs additional support can enter the program each semester. One such student is Kristina. Here is her story.

My name is Kristina and I came back to college thanks to the MAT Program. I was in the GEO Re-          entry group (a felony court ordered felony probation program) when Alicia Kolstad and the original MAT crew came to tell us that community college is for everyone. I was at a turning point in my life where I knew I had to start doing things differently if I wanted to stay out of prison and be a part of my kids’ lives. So, I signed up. I learned how to be a successful student through Alicia’s Guidance 18 class. She helped me to set goals for my future and an educational plan to go with it. I have stayed the course and continued to be successful in all areas of my life since then. I will be graduating from Columbia College in spring 2021 and transferring to a university in fall of 2021. I have received so much support through the college and I have never been judged for my past decisions. I am eternally grateful for the MAT Program and honored to be able to work in the MAT program until graduation.

The program is seeking new students for spring. There will be help with applying to Columbia College and becoming familiar with the MAT program on November 19, at the Columbia College campus. All safety protocols will be in place. Individuals formerly incarcerated, justice involved, or simply seeking additional support and specialized attention as you get your bearings, are invited to RSVP by contacting Alicia Kolstad, Director of Making Alternative Transformations, at (209) 588-5333 or kolstada@yosemite.edu. Please help spread the word!