Guided pathways leads students toward success

By Cassidy Reyna

With students constantly on the search for the right college, Guided Pathways is meant to help all students figure out their path at East Los Angeles College. However, as of late it has been difficult to gauge with students due to COVID-19 on the proper paths. Specifically those among theatre arts, journalism, architecture and a wide range of majors. 

Professor Lisa Hasimoto Stone, department chair of Theater Arts said it’s much more difficult to teach her program of technical theatre where students are hands on and work together on stage design.

“Our technical theater program is going to have to be built back up and start all over again,” said Stone. Stone talked about the fact that she really looks forward to looking for ways to get back into that class again but knows that it will be difficult to do so. 

With her spring 2020 class, students were able to complete the class but during the fall and future semesters there was no class due to COVID-19. Stone talked about her options of filming herself on campus when it comes to set designing. Those being possibly showing students how to use power tools to create sets. Although she knows it doesn’t compare to learning in person and students won’t be able to learn and grasp onto what she is teaching, until in-person classes resume. Stone wants students to be able to look at their options with hope that guided pathways can help them find the right path.

“The goal of guided pathways is to help students find their programs faster and easier. I do think that with COVID, we’ll get no new technical theater students for who knows how long. It’s much more challenging now but, with guided pathways, I think that there should be a lot of career information to inform students. If a student were to be studying technical theater, they could go into film and TV or producing and stage management. If it all works out well it should help inform students about all the career opportunities that are out there for them,”  Stone said. 

Stone talked about the options that some students may be able to pursue, as well as hoping that guided pathways can help them find different routes.

“There’s a lot of overlap in our industry like music, digital media, art, animation, photography and so much more and I would hope that guided pathways departments would start talking to each other and making routes to connect students with jobs,”  Stone said.

Professor Jessica Hansen is a facilitator and a part of faculty in Theatre in Costume and Makeup design.

Hansen said that guided pathways plans to work with students using career and academic pathways or CAPs to help students find their right programs. Hansen knows that it can be difficult for students to decide what program to choose as there are around 300 of them.

 “An important part of Guided Pathways is Academic Maps. These are maps created by the department and counselors and have a sequence of courses that are suggested for each of our programs at ELAC. These maps can be found on the ELAC website in the Career and Academic Pathways page, and are organized by CAP. The maps are a very valuable tool, especially during distance education. Using the map, students can meet with a counselor and review the courses that they need to take for their program and in what order,” Hansen said. Hansen also talks about how counselors can reach out to students and give them the classes they can take, they can also format classes to suit what they’re trying to pursue. “Since the map is a suggestion, many courses can be taken out of the sequence based on what is and is not being offered online. When we return to in person instruction, students will then be able to complete those specific hands-on lab courses to earn their credential,”  Hansen said.

Specifically those under the Arts category, guided pathways will focus on using CAPs when it comes to students interested in the Arts, Media and Design. “ If a student knows that they like artistic and design subjects but is still unsure of their exact major, they can explore the programs and courses in the Arts, Media, and Design CAP. This helps a student to keep momentum and find a clear path. Recently, CAP teams were formed, with Faculty and Staff from departments, Counselors, Administrators, and important program leads.”

“These CAP teams are collaborating with the departments in that CAP to address the needs of students in their programs. The goal of the team is to find barriers for students in that CAP and create strategies to solve them. In the redesign process at ELAC, it is very important to our team that we facilitate the work by engaging the campus community and leverage the great work that is already being done all over ELAC,” Hansen said.

Hansen is aware of how difficult it is to gauge with students now more than ever due to COVID-19 especially with hands-on classes and plans to work with students even when society goes back to “normal.” “The Guided Pathways Facilitators and work teams will all follow the lead of the college for plans to return to campus. When we do return to campus, we plan to use many of the online strategies that we’ve developed over the past nine months, to be sure that we can connect with as many students as possible,”  Hansen said.

For now, Guided Pathways is going to continue to progress and work with students no matter their major or interests, it will be difficult as classes are all virtual. Once classes return to “normal,” Guided Pathways will continue to improve and accommodate students who return to ELAC in-person or continue online.

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