Cerritos College has been honored as a 2020 Equity Champion of Higher Education by The Campaign for College Opportunity for leading California community colleges in awarding associate degrees to Black students transferring to four-year universities.
The college, located in Norwalk, was one of five across the state to receive the inaugural honor from the organization, which was founded in 2003 and has as its mission ensuring all Californians have access to higher education.
Cerritos College’s average enrollment is about 21,000, drawing students from around southeastern Los Angeles County, including Artesia, Bellflower, Downey, Lakewood and Long Beach.
The Campaign for College Opportunity created the Equity Champion of Higher Education Awards to recognize California community colleges that have excelled in awarding “associate degrees for transfer” to Black and/or Latino students.
Such degrees give any student who meets the Cal State University system/s minimum eligibility requirements guaranteed priority admission to one of its 23 campus — though not to a particular campus or major.
To determine which colleges should receive the awards, the Campaign for College Opportunity created an equity index that assigns a value to each college based on how many associate degrees its Black and Latino students receive relative to the overall campus population of those communities intending to transfer, according to a recent statement from Cerritos College announcing it received an award.
Cerritos College, according to the index, tops the list among California community colleges.
“We are excited to be honored as a 2020 Equity Champion of Higher Education,” Marisa Perez, Cerritos College Board of Trustees president, said in a written statement. “Improving student equity and outcomes is a primary part of the Board’s goals to increase student achievement for first-generation and underrepresented students.
“This recognition is a testament to the hard work by our faculty and staff,” she added, “to provide transfer pathways that lead to success for our students.”
Cerritos College has a long history of developing programs to support disproportionately impacted students. The Umoja Success Program, for example, works to foster and nurture “the educational experience of all students, especially African American and first-generation college students,” according to the college’s website. (Umoja means “unity” in Kiswahili.” Then there’s the Puente Program, which for more than 30 years has worked to improve the rate at which traditionally underrepresented Californians attend college.
“We’re proud to be among the top institutions making college dreams a reality for Black students with the Associate Degree for Transfer,” Cerritos College President Jose Fierro said in a statement. “We are committed to investing resources to develop and enhance innovative programs and initiatives that support disproportionately impacted student populations to close equity gaps in education.”
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