For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, registrations are up at Cabrillo College and the fall semester is in full swing. Officials say enrollment rose 1.5% — a positive sign of recovery and a higher rate than other community colleges in California are experiencing.
“We’re really doing well. Of particular note is that enrollment is up for our introductory math and English courses.
— Matt Wetstein, President of Cabrillo College
This is significant because it indicates that more and more students are returning to Cabrillo College as soon as they graduate from high school – a significant segment of the student population. And that’s just one positive sign that has university officials excited about the new school year and the chance to bounce back from a few extremely difficult years. Supporting students with more services to encourage enrollment and help them succeed in their courses continues to guide officials and is the main theme for the 2022-2023 academic year.
Extended daycare services
Among the developments for the new school year are efforts to expand the childcare services offered on campus. A $970,000 grant recently awarded by the United States Department of Education will support the Cabrillo College Children’s Center and Lab School, in operation for more than four decades, to provide expanded services to more eligible children. The program currently offers part-time child care and early education for children ages six months to 5 years, as well as extended day child care, in accordance with the Cabrillo College academic calendar.
More access to child care means more parents in school. The new funding will directly support students.
— Matt Wetstein, President of Cabrillo College
Being able to expand those services to more parents taking classes at Cabrillo is “a huge need,” Wetstein said. “More access to child care means more parents in school. The new funding will directly support students.
Building more inclusiveness
Supporting the student body through programs to build inclusiveness and promote diversity is another major focus for the new school year. Cabrillo College recently held HSI Week, celebrating the college’s designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI). The U.S. Department of Education defines HSI as an institution of higher education with a full-time undergraduate student body of at least 25% Hispanic.
The week’s events included presentations on topics such as Chicano murals and Chicano communism, special luncheons, and guest speakers from the community, including Watsonville Councilwoman Rebecca Garcia and Court Justice Recently retired Santa Cruz County Superior John Salazar, the county’s first Latino superior court judge. . Other events, which took place at the Watsonville and Aptos campuses, included special luncheons, a movie night in conjunction with the Watsonville Film Festival, and the signing of a new mural at the STEAM building.
The school also launched the Umoja community for the 2022-2023 school year, a program designed to help African American students and other historically underrepresented students — with the specific goal of increasing student retention, completion, graduation, and transfer rates. students of African descent, Umoja means “unity” in Kiswahili.
Another exciting development for the new school year is the college’s first full-time ethnic studies professor, Alicia Bencomo Garcia. While sociology and English instructors have been teaching ethnic studies classes for years at Cabrillo, the hiring of Bencomo Garcia marks the first full-time ethnic studies professor. And the program will continue to grow, all with the goal of continuing to foster greater diversity and improve accessibility, according to college officials.
A focus on the arts of all kinds
The new STEAM building mural is just the beginning of campus beautification efforts, Wetstein said. The college currently has a fund allocated to develop at least one, possibly two, new murals on campus, including one in the Office of Student Equity.
Meanwhile, enrollment in art, music and dance classes are up this semester, an exciting development after more than two years of the pandemic. “We’re definitely seeing that come back this year,” Wetstein said, noting that Cabrillo is home to world-class visual and performing arts facilities, including the Crocker Theater.
And in other arts news – the culinary arts, that is – Pino Alto, the school’s on-campus restaurant, has resumed lunchtime operations after more than two years of pandemic-related disruptions. The restaurant is run entirely by students from the Culinary Arts department, who not only prepare the food, but also serve in all storefront roles.
Students gain first-hand experience working in a restaurant, which is a fantastic workforce opportunity. The restaurant is now open to the public for lunch from Tuesday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Touchdown to a new semester
The 2022-23 school year also saw the return of the Cabrillo football program after a two-year hiatus – and the team has already had some major wins. There is a new coach in charge – Justin Hansen – and he is working with a team made up largely of players who have graduated from local high schools. “The program showed a major reboot and it was a success,” Wetstein said.
In fact, a “major reboot” is the recurring theme of the new semester at Cabrillo, as students and faculty kick off the school year with renewed energy. And Wetstein and his team are focused on keeping that energy going and making Cabrillo College even more accessible to more students — working with community college officials across the state to reduce textbook costs, increase student aid programs, create student housing and many other initiatives.