Hollister site a hub for new, returning Gavilan College studentsby on Feb 9, 2018
Excited students flocked back to the Briggs Building in downtown Hollister, eager to start spring semester classes at Gavilan College.
During the past 20 years, students have had a choice of enrolling in classes in Hollister, closer to home. Site Director Judy Rodriguez has built a welcoming campus filled with services. This spring, classes are offered in subjects ranging from CSU/UC transferable financial accounting and statistics through art history, physical geology and psychology. Noncredit classes in many subjects are also offered, including GED preparation and ESL citizenship. Overall, 60 classes fill with San Benito County residents Monday through Saturday, early morning into the evening.
On the first day, peer mentors greeted students with water, energy bars and assistance. With help, students navigate the resources available, including printing out assignments and completing financial aid applications. They can meet on site with a counselor to review their education plans.
(L-R) Hollister Director Judy Rodriguez, peer mentors Niza Villaverde and Tina Hutson
and student Gabriella Pearce at the welcome table first day of Spring 2018 semester.
The Hollister campus is filled with small tables, and students form study groups the first week of classes. Peer mentor Niza Villaverde staffed the welcome table the first day of the semester. She directed students to their classrooms and answered questions as they arrived for classes.
"I started working at the Hollister campus last summer," she said. As a nursing student, most of her classes had been on the main campus. She completed her CNA and hopes to be accepted into the highly competitive registered nursing program in the fall. Villaverde is also applying to the programs at Cabrillo and Hartnell. "But I really want to join the program at Gavilan," she said.
Amber Bell is a freshman at Gavilan. Last fall, the only class she took at the main campus was physical education. All her other classes were available at the Hollister campus. This semester, the class load is reversed, with most of her classes at the Gilroy campus.
She sticks to her ed plan, developed with counselor Debbie Christensen, and said she built this semester's schedule around a class offered by math instructor Lynn Hilden. "He's a great teacher," she said. "He teaches you in a way that clicks, and does everything possible to help."
Comparing the two campuses, Bell said she liked them both. "I like Hollister classes, but I also like to get out of Hollister." She can ride her bike to the Hollister campus, lock it, then commute by bus to the main campus. She looks forward to repeating the straight A's she earned her first semester. "I really like college," she said.
Her secret to college success? "I stay up until all the work is done."
Students Amber Bell and Hannah Rodriguez review the math textbook for the semester.
Former student Joanna Morales dropped by the campus on the first day. She worked as a peer mentor in past years with Hollister as home base. She also traveled to the main campus and to Morgan Hill to work with students. As a peer mentor she helped students with financial aid applications, ordering books and arranging counseling appointments.
Morales, a liberal arts major who graduated in 2015, misses college, which is why she visits often. Many of her classes were at the main campus. She especially remembered her required art class.
"I couldn't draw or paint, and then I saw the photography class," Morales said, taught by Jane Edberg. The class sparked a love of photography, and she hopes to take an evening photography class. "Every time I grab a camera, it uplifts me," she said.
Morales also hopes the district will build a bigger, local campus in Hollister. "I don't like the drive," she said, "and Gav is a big part of my life."