English Department’s alumni panels speak on ELAC experiences

By Anelle Hernandez

 English Department alumni talked about how professors’ influences molded their future college interactions during the department’s Annual Alumni Panel for English Majors. 

The event was free and open to all English majors interested in building connections and listening to past alumni speak about their experiences at the college. 

A Zoom recording was set up for students who couldn’t attend physically.

Gregory Mena, a current reading instructor, began the presentation by introducing the panel of alumni and fellow professors. 

Carlos Centeno, English professor and co-coordinator of the Puente project, talked about the Puente club. 

The Puente club is an inclusive program dedicated to preparing incoming freshman students whose goal is to transfer to a four-year university. 

The alumni on the panel went over how beneficial their English professors’ time was during their time at ELAC.

Joseph, a former ELAC graduate, said he had a great connection with all of his ELAC English professors who encouraged him to step out of his comfort zone. 

Other alumni went over how counselors were able to provide professors who went over their papers and provided help after class. 

Students felt that the constructive criticism that was given to them after every paper by their professors, helped them become better writers throughout the semesters. 

Gabriel, a current California State University Los Angeles student, said he was originally going into computer science. 

Mena assigned short story assignments which led Gabriel to enjoy writing and convinced him to become an english major. All of these students emphasized that they felt confident enough to take university level classes due to their professors’ influences on them. 

The alumni on the panel thanked professors for preparing them for their university careers.

Mena asked the alumni how they spent their years at ELAC and what institution they transferred to. 

Katie attended ELAC for three years and later transferred to Cal State Los Angeles in 2021. 

She said while she submitted applications for universities, she had hoped to get into her dream school, UC Berkeley. 

Katie received an offer of admission from UC Berkeley and decided to accept their offer to attend, but she had a difficult time adjusting and realized that it was just too far. 

She instead decided to transfer back to attend Cal State LA. Katie said although she enjoyed Berkeleys’s campus, she did not regret leaving to attend a closer university in her hometown of Los Angeles. 

Gabriel spent four years at ELAC and decided to transfer to Cal State LA and is finishing up his first semester there. 

Joseph transferred to UCLA and is currently completing his masters degree at Cal State Northridge. Kai spent time at ELAC and later attended Cal State Long Beach. Montserratt Aguilar graduated from ELAC and transferred to UC Santa Cruz to continue pursuing her studies in Literary English. 

“I really liked having the luxury of being able to double major at UC Santa Cruz,” Aguilar said. 

Katie, Gabriel and Kai all attend Cal States and feel that it is a less intense environment, whereas a large university feels overwhelming.

 Former UCLA student Joseph said they offer many unique classes and professors are constantly doing research.

 He said that the only downside was not being able to fit in because he was surrounded by mostly Caucasian students who couldn’t relate to him being a Hispanic first-generation student. 

For Katie, attending UC Berkeley was a struggle emotionally because she felt homesick and racially disconnected during her time there. 

She said she recognized herself again once she transferred to Cal State LA and began feeling more confident and more at home. 

Kai said that attending Cal State Long Beach was a diversity shock because of his hometown high school which was made up of purely Caucasian students like himself. 

He enjoys learning about different cultures and being able to connect with others. Gabriel shared that Cal State LA ultimately felt like an extension of East Los Angeles College but is happy to experience a new campus and gain more knowledge throughout his time there. 

The panel concluded with the students sharing what they would like to do career wise after graduating from their universities. Most of them say that they plan to become professors and teach at ELAC, but some would like to become professional writers.

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