The College of the Canyons Pathway to Law School program — which provides a pathway to a law school education for students at the community college level — was awarded the California Leadership-Access-Workforce (LAW) Diversity Champion award for 2022 during a virtual ceremony on Feb. 18.
The college’s award-winning certificate program serves underrepresented groups, first-generation college students, and first-generation students.
“We are very excited to have won this award,” said Nicole Faudree, chair of the college’s paralegal studies program. “The Pathway to Law School program at COC reflects the rich diversity of our student body, which includes traditional college-age students, adult reentry students, veteran students, disabled students and students that identify with the LGBTQ+ community. We look forward to helping more students take the first step toward a rewarding legal career at COC.”
To help students reach their goals, each Pathway student meets with the counseling champion at the start of the program to discuss academic and career goals and develop an individualized comprehensive student educational plan to fit their interests.
“It is an absolute pleasure to work with our amazing students,” said Liz Shaker, a COC Pathway to Law School counseling champion. “Pathway students are extremely motivated to succeed in pursuit of their goals.”
The program also includes workshops on transfer and law school applications, studying/preparing for the LSAT (including the free Khan Academy program), accessing LSAC programs and workshops, and a law scholars reception with attorney and judge speakers.
Approximately 250 Pathway to Law School classes are offered each semester at COC, which are taught by 10 full-time and part-time attorneys and judges.
Since joining the California LAW Community College Pathway to Law School initiative in 2015, COC’s Pathway to Law program has served 303 students. In June 2021, the program reported 25 graduates, its largest group to date.
“Even though COC is just starting its fourth year, we are proud to report that five COC graduates are currently in law school,” said Faudree. “We are excited to see this number grow as more students start their college career at the community college due to impaction at the four-year universities.”’
Among the program’s alumni is Sebastian Cazares, who is represents Trustee Area 3 on the Santa Clarita Community College District board of trustees. Cazares graduated from the COC Pathway to Law program in 2020 and is currently a UCLA undergraduate studying American politics and Chicano studies.
COC is one of 29 California community colleges that have joined California LAW Community College Pathway to Law School initiative to create an educational pipeline in law.
California LAW is a program that aims to connect and coordinate with programs that are part of the educational pipeline for diverse students into the legal profession or law-related careers. Housed at the Foundation for California Community Colleges, California LAW is aligned with the foundation’s strategic goal to expand student access and career outcomes through student-centered resources and tools.