Culinary students star on reality TV show

Cabrillo student Gabriel Garcia measures milk in baking class. (Cooking Channel/Contributed) ( Jeremiah Alley )

The Freshman Class: Santa Cruz, an eight-part Cooking Channel reality series, will feature culinary students at California’s Cabrillo College, reports the  Santa Cruz Sentinel.

The show starts with new students:

Gabe is a former gang member looking to turn his life around after a recent stint in prison. Amalia, stay-at-home mom of four, is eager to take on new responsibilities but nervous about accepting a role other than “wife and mother.” Kim regrets dropping out of culinary school decades ago and is ready to prove herself, despite her reluctant husband. Jim, a Navy veteran, suffers with a terrible injury that left him jobless & homeless eight years ago, is seeking a better life. 

Gabe Garcia joined a gang at 12 years old, because he didn’t see a future, he told the Sentinel. “I was going to go to prison or I was going to end up dead somewhere,” he said. Arrested for robbery days before his high school graduation, Garcia spent a year in county jail.

Now 22, he’s got a girlfriend, a one-year-old son and a criminal record that makes it hard to find an entry-level job.

Garcia said the program has taught him more than how to chop an onion or present wine. Dressed in a white chef’s coat and hat, he said he speaks and carries himself differently and is surrounded by a new crowd. When he shares his troubled history with classmates, he said they don’t believe him.

“I feel like a different person,” Garcia said. “I feel like I’ve changed.”

. . . “I wanted to show people, you don’t have to stick to what other people think about you,” Garcia said. “You can be something better.”

Cabrillo culinary graduates start at $15 an hour, but move up because of their training and experience, said Eric Carter, chef instructor and program chair. 

Students run the Piño Alto restaurant on campus, which operates Monday to Friday for 13 weeks each semester. “I tell the students from day one that they’re responsible for our reputation and I’m not going to let it go down,” Carter said.

Georgia boosts black male enrollment, graduation

Black male college enrollment rose by 80 percent in Georgia from 2002 to 2011, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. Black males earned nearly 60 percent more college degrees and the six-year graduation rate increased to 40 percent for black males who started college in 2005, “an 11 percentage-point uptick since the program’s inception.” The African-American Male Initiative, a statewide program, reported its results at the American Council on Education’s annual meeting.

At the College of Coastal Georgia . . .  incoming black male freshmen can take part in a “Summer Bridge & Go” program, which includes eight weeks of advanced instruction in reading, writing, and mathematics, and a chance to connect with campus mentors.

Columbus State University, meanwhile, offers Projecting Hope, which aims to help black male students from rural areas. Georgia Highlands College has a first-year experience program for black males by way of the Georgia Highlands African-American and Minority Male Excellence organization.

The ACE discussion of boosting minority success also featured the Academy for College Excellence, a program for “struggling but strong” community-college students that began at Cabrillo College in California, and North Carolina A&T University’s Middle College, a single-sex public high school for male students on the university’s Greensboro campus.

Spiders show where the jobs are

In a fast-moving economy, spiders are showing colleges where the jobs, so they can target job training, writes the Hechinger Report. Artificial-intelligence spiders “crawl through search engines” to read online “help wanted” ads daily. Colleges can update — or eliminate — job programs quickly.

Federal labor data can be two years out of date or more, said John Dorrer, a program director at Jobs for the Future. Without current information, “We’re training people for jobs that don’t exist, and not training people for jobs that do.”

Based on real-time labor-market information, the Lone Star College System in Texas will close three programs next fall, in aviation management, hospitality management and computer support. It found that employers prefer four-year to two-year degrees in the first two cases, and were outsourcing work in the third. But it is adding programs to train oil and gas drillers and CT-scan technicians, for which there is burgeoning demand.

. . . Cabrillo College in California thought its program in medical assisting was doing well—until spidering technology showed there wasn’t much hiring going on in the field, and a survey of graduates confirmed that fewer than 30 percent had jobs in it. So the college raised the program’s standards to a level employers told them they needed.

Archana Mani took time out of the workforce to raise her children and discovered her master’s in information systems wasn’t enough to qualify for a job. She enrolled in Oakland Community College near Detroit, which was offering an accelerated course to train programmers to build and test new software applications. Once spiders told the college about the demand, it took only three months to create the course. Mani completed the program and was hired by a quickly expanding branch of Hewlett-Packard in Pontiac, Mich.

Cadavers are in, virtual labs are out

Cadavers are making a comeback in medical classes, reports the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

At Cabrillo College in Aptos, 20 students crowd around a cadaver in Robin McFarland’s anatomy class. “Virtual learning” — including 3-D digital models of the human body — “can’t replace the real experience of actually working with the real cadaver,” said Andrew Corson, the program’s director.

The skin on the torso, legs and arms has been removed to show the muscles underneath. On the hands, the skin is intact, beige from preservatives and covered with liver spots. The smell of formaldehyde permeates the lab. A couple of students slip Altoids mints under their tongues to combat the fume-induced nausea.

. . . Most of the students in McFarland’s anatomy class will go into nursing programs, so she thinks of the bodies as her students’ first patients.

The students examine two cadavers, side by side. Next to the 90-year-old who suffered from Alzheimer’s is 11-288, an 84-year-old man and longtime smoker who died of congestive heart failure. The students have spent months comparing the two bodies, understanding not just how they operated in life, but what led to the men’s deaths.

Natasha Frias, a kinesiology student, was shocked by her first cadaver. “This is what I look like on the inside?”

Students use bodies that have been donated to the University of California at San Francisco’s Willed Body Program. At the end of the semester, McFarland’s students write an essay about their experience. One wrote: “I thank everyone dead or alive who made this such a wonderful learning experience.”

Colleges collaborate on remedial ed

Colleges with many minority students are restructuring remedial education as part of Lumina Foundation’s Models of Success program, reports Rethinking Remedial Education. Minority-serving institutions are collaborating to improve instruction, revamping placement systems and improving student services.

California State University, Monterey Bay partnered with Cabrillo College and Hartnell College to create the Collaborative Alliance for Postsecondary Success (CAPS). CAPS has brought together about 10 faculty representatives from each campus to regularly exchange best practices and collectively develop innovative courses for students enrolled in remedial math and writing.

. . . Montana’s Salish Kootenai College (SKC) partnered with fellow Tribal College and University, Fort Peck Community College, to . . . identify the factors that contribute to the retention and success of American Indian postsecondary students who required remedial coursework in mathematics and English.

The Lumina MSI-Models of Success program focuses on improving  first-generation students, low-income students and students of color.

Gay students host prom

A gay students’ prom will go on at Cabrillo Community College near Santa Cruz, California. But Leading Out, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Questioning club, will have to make do without $700 from the Student Senate.

Theo Offei, president of Associated Students of Cabrillo College, vetoed the funding request, saying the dance won’t benefit the entire student body and already has received $1,000 in funding from the Inter Club Council.

Elizabeth Habara, a founder of Leading Out, disagreed. “It will build community at Cabrillo and make for a stronger campus,” she said.

“A lot of people come from areas where it was against the rules to go to their high school prom with a same-sex date, or maybe they just felt intimidated. So we thought we’d give people a second chance.”

The Don’t Worry Be Happy, I’m Coming Out Prom is set for Dec. 3 at the campus cafeteria. Donations, including a $700 gift from Google, will fund the prom’s $2,283 budget, which will pay for a videographer and two DJs, though not the bands, drag performers and karaoke system initially envisioned.

College can’t afford ‘green’ building

Cabrillo College in California wanted to teach green building techniques in a new technology center built to a LEED platinum level, which is very high.  But ultra-green building is too expensive; The bids came in $1 million high, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

Cabrillo will have to build a less green building in order to stay within the $5 million budget.