Written by Charles James

Success for Cerro Coso Community College (CCCC), with its two local college centers located in Mammoth Lakes and Bishop, collectively known as the Eastern Sierra College Center (ESCC), would be graduating 63 local students, a 65 percent increase over last year’s graduating class.

“The ESCC comprises only 10 percent of Cerro Coso’s total enrollment and this year ESCC grads were 20 percent of total CCCC graduating class,” said Deanna Ing Campbell, Director of the Eastern Sierra College Center.

Campbell added that ESCC graduates earned degrees and certificates in 17 different fields such as kinesiology, child development, admiration of justice, computer information systems, business, paralegal, clinical medical assisting, vocational nursing, math and sciences, and arts and humanities.

For those that think college is too expensive, more than half of the graduates of ESCC are supported by full scholarship (including up to $300 in books per semester) from either the Mammoth Lakes Foundation or the Eastern Sierra Foundation. And even if that were not so, a famous quote sums it up best, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

Additionally, the Owens Valley Career Development Center (OVCDC), which serves the needs of Native Americans, provides educational assistance to local tribal members in Inyo and Mono Counties as well. The OVCDC Career Education Program (CEP) provides career guidance, development and tutoring to Native Americans. CEP provides tuition and loans of textbooks to eligible students attending Cerro Coso Community College.

This year’s class saw nine Native American students receive certificates and AA degrees. Two AAs in human services, six received certificates in various fields, and one received CAN certification.

Many of the college graduates plan to continue their education and are transferring on or have been accepted to universities that include UC Berkeley, UC Davis, Cal Poly SLO, Chico State, SCU Fullerton, San Jose State, CSU San Diego, Western Governors University, Southern New Hampshire University, Cal State LA, Cal State Long Beach California Baptist University and Laney College.

Adding to the success of ESCC is the Inyo-Mono Promise initiated by Dr. Terry McAteer, Inyo County Superintendent of Schools, (and encouraged by Cerro Coso Community College’s most famous and popular UNR alumnus, College Counselor Greg Kost) which has resulted in nearly 20 percent of the graduates planning to continue on to the University of Reno. Under the program, they will be eligible for the Western Undergraduate Exchange discounted tuition rate.

Dr. McAteer received special recognition from the Kern Community College District Board of Trustees for “his vision, leadership and contributions towards securing the funding that has provided students, staff, and the community at large with an enhanced educational environment in which to learn both inside and out at the ESCC Bishop Campus.”

McAteer’s efforts included securing $100,000 to go towards transforming the Community Room, providing new landscaping surrounding the building, remodeling the Art Room and creating a new Art Yard. Those efforts also included a new building sign welcoming students and visitors alike to the “Eastern Sierra Community College Center – Bishop ? Cerro Coso Community College.”

Another part of its success is that ESCC successfully represents the communities it serves. 35 percent of the graduating class in both Mammoth Lakes and Bishop is Latino, and 23 percent are Native American (Bishop only). This year’s graduating class also included a veteran of the armed services.

Two students graduated with honors programs distinction, eight were honors students with a 3.75 GPA or higher and 16 have been inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa honors society.