By Sergio Barrueta
The South Gate Educational Center presented an inaugural Student Success Conference over the weekend to inform students on the know-how of transferring.
Held by the Student Success Committee, the conference also focused on what it takes to become a successful student and how to accomplish educational goals.
The conference featured a collection of questions and answers sessions, panels and workshops to inform students on the different services East Los Angeles College provides, including information on transferring to the University of California and the California State University systems.
SSC members and ELAC professors Leonard Melchor and Maria Quintero encouraged attendees to talk about their current majors and educational goals.
“We encourage all students to get to know each other. You all see one another passing by in the hallway, but here, we want you to talk to your fellow student and share your experiences,” Melchor said.
Deans Evelyn Escatiola and Ming-Huei Lam were in attendance overseeing the event. Escatiola explained the goal of carrying the importance of continuing higher education.
“We are striving to have a strong culture of transfers, certifications and AA degrees. We are hoping to make this an annual event,” Escatiola said. She also shared the same sentiment with Melchor and Quintero by giving some advice to the audience. “The more people you know, the more successful you are in school,” Escatoia said.
After the presentation, three students led a panel to discuss their journey at ELAC so far, as well as the next steps toward the future.
Led by student Francisco Chavoya, the panel gave perspectives on their time at ELAC, as well as their hopes to transfer.
Student Javier Lopez spoke at the panel about being undocumented and the personal obstacles he’s faced.
He talked about his struggles making money and saving it so he could pay tuition. “I remember I went up to the admissions desk with $800 in hand, and the person looked at me saying ‘You know, there are fee waivers for this.’ “I was not aware at the time of the services given because I did not know if they were available to me,” Lopez said.
He realized, he said, that the obstacles he encountered were also shared by others. Students Jasmine Perez and Bianca Lopez also spoke during the panel to share their stories.
Perez talked about a club she joined that has helped her make connections with others. “I came and I wanted to join a club and was surprised to find a bible club. I was like ‘What? That’s a thing?’ and joined immediately,” Perez said.
“I’ve been with them for a long time now.” Perez’ mother told her to go back to school after her own story. Her mother went back to ELAC to work on her goal she set aside after having Perez at a young age. “I cannot wait until next year when I graduate because me and my mom will be walking down together,” Perez said.
The panel ended with pieces of advice from each of the panel members as encouragement.