Clarissa Caposino (WHCC)
For Clarissa Caposino, West Hills College Coalinga has been a “beacon” toward a career in healthcare. Clarissa recently graduated in May 2016 with an associate’s degree in Liberal Arts: Math and Science and plans on working toward becoming first a nurse and then eventually, a doctor. A graduate of Coalinga High School with the Class of 2014, Clarissa originally wanted to attend Fresno State but decided that West Hills College, with its attentive faculty and many student activities and President’s Scholars Program, would be a better fit.
“Besides the fact that thanks to the scholarship, it’s fiscally responsible to go to West Hills, it’s brought a lot of people into my life,” she said. “The President’s Scholars program has helped me tremendously.” Clarissa has been a stellar student. She is a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society, was the president of the Associated Student Body and has been involved in softball and volleyball. She was the graduation speaker.
Clarissa also has a history with West Hills: she’s been attending West Hills in one way or another since 2008, when she was in the 6th grade.
Jonathan Maravilla (WHCL)
A graduate of the WHCL class of 2016, Jonathan Marvailla saw his time at West Hills College Lemoore as an opportunity to think. He came to WHCL with not much of an idea of what he wanted to study. He leaves with a solid understanding of what he wants his future to be like and a path to get there. He earned his associate’s degree in business administration this semester and will be transferring to Fresno State to earn his bachelor’s degree in engineering. He credits his success to WHCL and to the President’s Scholars program.
“It was a good way to save money and have time to think about going into a certain major,” he said. “It took some of the stress off and it also gave me a boost, knowing that I had to maintain a high GPA. It kept me focused.”
He applied for the President’s Scholars Program after a WHCL counselor told him about the program and encouraged him to apply.
He is a graduate of Sierra Pacific High School in Hanford, a member of the class of 2014.
Deysi Reyes (NDC)
The educational journey of Deysi Reyes has been paved with difficulties. She came to the United States from El Salvador with her family when she was 13 years old and in the 7th grade. She did not speak much English and struggled to keep up with classes and homework as a result. However, through quiet dedication and help from her middle and high school teachers, she learned and became determined to get an education.
She graduated from Mendota High School in 2015.
While her first choice for college was Fresno State, she soon realized that with West Hills she could get her first two years of general education finished at a much lower cost. When a counselor encouraged her to apply for the President’s Scholars program, her dream of being able to go to college became a reality. She started taking classes at North District Center, Firebaugh and now plans to graduate next May with her associate’s degree in psychology and transfer to Fresno State. Her goal is to earn her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in psychology.
“I would have felt lost if I would have gone straight to Fresno State and I’ve saved so much money,” she said. “I don’t regret coming here at all.”
Elisabet Labrado (WHCC)
Elisabet Labrador’s parents understand the value of college but they were just hard-pressed to pay for it. As a result of Elisabet’s hard work in high school, they’ll have help with tuition and books thanks to the President’s Scholars Program.
The 2012 Coalinga High School graduate had been accepted at Fresno State but the cost of living in Fresno or driving from her home in Coalinga to the CSU campus was just too much and her parents were also concerned that at 17, she was too young. As a result Labrador enrolled at West Hills College Coalinga for fall semester.
Her father, who attended high school in Mexico until he was 16 and has a gardening service, and her mother, who left school after completing elementary school in Mexico and works at the garlic plant in Coalinga, both wanted their daughter to stay focused on school and not get a low-paying job that might interfere with her education.
Statistics are on their side. Students who attend college full-time are far more likely to graduate and a community college graduate triples their income within the first three years of graduation on average.
Instead of working, Labrador attends classes at WHCC and helps out at home with two younger sisters. She is encouraging her 14-year-old sister to enroll in a West Hills College pre-calculus class next year.
"I’m helping my sisters and they will benefit from my experience" said, Labrador. “I didn’t really have any idea of what school was all about, but I’m helping my sisters and they will benefit from my experience.”
Labrador feels that her time at West Hills will better prepare her to attend a four-year college stating, “I think I would have been lost at Fresno State coming right out of high school.”
Labrador is working towards earning an accounting degree will allow her to own her own bookkeeping service in her hometown. Her parents are proud of her progress and are thankful for the opportunities provided to her at West Hills College Coalinga.
Hayley Munroe is determined to attend college and the West Hills Community College Foundation President’s Scholars Program has made that possible.
The Hanford East High School graduate is now a sophomore at West Hills College Lemoore and well on the way to earning an associate’s degree in liberal arts that will eventually lead to a bachelor’s degree and becoming a teacher working with deaf students.
Hayley discovered American Sign Language during her second year of high school and came to love the community, the culture and the people associated with it. She was president of the ASL Club in high school. She had planned to go straight to Fresno State but said there was just no way that she could afford it since her mother works three jobs just to make ends meet. Instead, she came to WHCL as a President’s Scholar and has no regrets.
She enjoys her classes at WHCL and is involved with the college’s GEAR program, which prepares students to be tutors, tour guides, mentors and volunteers at campus events. It’s her way of giving back to the college that gives her so much.
“The President’s Scholars are all really good students,” Hayley says. “We don’t all get equal financial support and for some of us, this is how we can get a college education. Without the program, some students would give up on college and go straight to work because they can’t afford to pay for the books and tuition.”
The loss of those qualified students is a loss for all Americans since there is a recognized need for the skills that students acquire in college. A recent Brookings Institution report says that in the Fresno regional area, there were 20,710 job openings requiring some college or an associate degree yet there were only 13,868 workers with those credentials.
The loss of highly qualified students who want to attend college but can’t afford it costs society in the long run. Students who earn a California community college degree or certificate nearly double their earnings within three years and earn nearly $400,000 more over a 40 year career than those with only a high school diploma. Based on those numbers, they will pay more taxes and statistics show that they are less likely to need social services like welfare and unemployment.
Everyone wins when students like Hayley Monroe have a chance to attend college. We hope you will join us in making that happen by supporting the President’s Scholars Program at West Hills College.