COC student recounts impact of First Year Promise program

FILE PHOTO: Members of the 2017 graduating class march in to begin the College of the Canyons commencement ceremony held in the Honor Grove at College of the Canyons in Valencia on June 2. Dan Watson/For the Signal

When Itziely Beltran began preparing for college, her biggest fear was that she would not have the guidance she needed to complete her degree on time.

However, this fear subsided when Beltran was selected as one of 350 students to participate in College of the Canyons’ (COC) First Year Promise program, which provides students with educational plans and weekly college counseling in the fall.

“It has impacted my life a lot,” Beltran said.  “I was worried I wasn’t going to take the classes I needed or that I would fall behind.  The guidance has been very helpful; I think that’s one of the biggest things for the First Year Promise is the guidance.”

In addition to the college counseling, the First Year Promise program gives first-year, full-time freshmen the opportunity to attend COC tuition and fee free during their first year.

The program was launched by a $750,000 grant from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to support College Promise Programs that increase college participation for recent graduates, like the program at COC.

“College Promise partnerships make college more affordable and help students on the path to a degree or certificate and good paying jobs,” said Board President Cecilia V. Estolano said in a statement.

For Beltran, a recent graduate of Valencia High School, the program has helped her pursue her dreams of becoming a forensic psychologist and earning a doctorate in her field.

“My plan is to get an AA in administration of justice at COC and then after that transfer to get a major in forensic psychology,” she said.  “I love working with people and speaking with people so I think my biggest goal would be to help those around me that need it.”

In her application for the First Year Promise program, Beltran stressed the financial and academic rewards the program would offer her, as well as the commitment she would show toward her school work.

“I said I should be selected because I said I would be a very determined student to follow all the requirements so I can follow through with my dreams and my goals,” she said.  “I found out about two weeks after, it was amazing and really surprising moment because I didn’t expect it.”

As part of the First Year Promise program, Beltran enrolled in a counseling course during the summer and enrolled in a math, English and counseling course in the fall.  She must also maintain 12 units, enroll in the spring and keep a minimum 2.5 GPA.

“It’s been an amazing experience,” Beltran said.  “I took summer classes at COC but being a full-time student is different but it’s great, I love it.”

Beltran said she also appreciates how the program connects her with the campus and with other freshmen students.

“You all get close to one another and it’s nice to share your experience.  Everyone has a different story as to why they applied or why they’re majoring in what they are, so it’s really nice to be able to tell others your story and to hear other people’s stories,” she said.  “I feel like friendships have been stronger there.”

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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