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  • Grossmont Cuyamaca college district earns high marks

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    By the Alpine Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce
        ​Martin Phillip, once a high school graduate who didn’t speak English very well, is now a college-educated young man with a job as a computer lab specialist.
    It happened because he decided to go to Grossmont Community College in El Cajon, Phillip said at the Nov. 7 annual Chancellor’s Community Advisory Council Breakfast of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Breakfast.  
        ​“It’s offered me job opportunities and the experience I needed,” said Phillip, who is now a junior at San Diego State University while working at Grossmont College.  “The (Grossmont) staff referred me to jobs at the college. My life got a change overnight from working two jobs to working one job.”
    Phillip was one of five students who told guests in the Cuyamaca College student center how the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District helped them get degrees and pursue careers  despite personal hardships and challenges.
        ​It’s a matter of serving a very diverse region with many students who are also often working to support themselves or families, District Chancellor Dr. Cindy L. Miles explained during her 2017-2018 annual report.
    The district is a member of the Alpine Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce. 
        ​Miles noted that the Chamber helps provide annual Career Days for middle-school students in rural East San Diego County, where there are fewer jobs and no colleges.
        ​ “Young people are worried today about whether it’s possible to work (just) one job to make their way,” the chancellor said. 
    Drawing attention to the annual report, Miles said that during the last academic year 60 percent of the 26,356 Grossmont students and 14,285 Cuyamaca students were women. 
        ​According to the report, students range in age from 19 or younger to more than 50 years old. Culturally diverse, two-thirds of them are local East San Diego County residents.  
        ​During the last academic year 2,515 district graduates earned a record 5,384 degrees.
    For the 14th year in a row the college district, working with a balanced budget of $275,775,687 and equal expenditures, has received top marks from independent auditors, the report said.
        ​In 2012 East County voters approved Proposition V, a $398 million construction bond to build and renovate college facilities. The San Diego Taxpayers Education Foundation has given the district 24 out of 25 points for transparency in providing open information about the process.
    “In recent years we’ve been able to budget for coming challenges,” said Sue Rearic, the college district’s vice chancellor of business services.  “We are one of the largest employers in East County . . . 2,779 full-time and part-time employees.”
        ​District officials said the colleges are trying to make sure all students have enough to eat, pay less for textbooks and receive a free year of enrollment for their first time in college.
        ​The Grossmont college staff even helped him make sure he could continue working while getting an education, Phillip said.
    “At the time I started there, I needed multiple jobs to help my family,” he said. ”The staff helped me change hours to get everything done.” 
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