More than 90 people participated in Napa Valley College’s 13th annual Transfer Celebration on May 14, 2020. The virtual event, organized by the Transfer Center, which is part of Student Affairs, celebrated Napa Valley College students’ successful completion of their transfer path and acceptance to four-year institutions.
Dr. Ron Kraft, superintendent/president of Napa Valley College, a first-generation community college transfer student himself, welcomed the group and introduced Congressman Mike Thompson. “Napa Valley College teed me up to be able to get a four-year degree,” shared the congressman, who attended the college in the 1970s before transferring to California State University, Chico where he received his bachelor’s and master of public administration degrees. “I couldn’t have done anything I have done had it not been for my experience at Napa Valley College and the skills, tools and confidence I gained.” He acknowledged Napa Valley College’s faculty and the transfer students participating in the celebration. “I know you’re going to go on and do great things. You learned that if you set a goal, and you worked hard, you could make it happen,” he said. He encouraged the students to take a moment to congratulate themselves, acknowledging the challenges of current social distancing protocols, and to thank all those who had helped make it possible.
Aurora G. credits Napa Valley College with giving her a second chance, a chance to turn her dream of attending the number one public university in the world into a reality. Aurora’s parents immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico; she is the first in her family to attend college. “One of the major reasons I chose NVC was that I was unsure of the process of going to college,” she said, acknowledging that she had no idea about the lengthy process to get into a UC or CSU. “I also came to NVC because, coming from a low-income family, the prices of these colleges seemed out of this world for me.” Aurora discovered Napa Valley College at an outreach event at Napa High School and now she is headed to UC Davis to study political science.
Another student, Hilde V., always dreamed of attending UC Berkeley, but he was the first in his family to attend school in this country and faced a number of challenges. “I’ve always been a good student, but I made some poor choices in high school, which forced me to drop out,” said Hilde. “I was a high school dropout and I thought my dream of going to Cal was over. One day, a friend of mine told me that if I got my GED I could enroll at NVC and that I still had a chance to attend my dream school.” Hilde is transferring to UC Berkeley to study political economics and rhetoric this fall.
Napa Valley College is currently supporting and implementing a number of state initiatives, such as Guided Pathways, a multi-year program intended to significantly improve student outcomes. The College Promise campaign allows students to complete a community college education without taking on mountains of student debt. And A Degree with a Guarantee streamlines the transfer process between California community colleges and participating four-year colleges and universities for students achieving an associate’s degree. As well as, the California Community Colleges Transfer Guarantee Agreement to Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
For veterans returning from active duty, the Associate Degree for Transfer is a fast and affordable way to transition from military service to the job market. More than 40 percent of all California veterans receiving GI Bill benefits attend a California community college to earn a degree, prepare to transfer to a four-year university or receive career training.
Veteran Josh Davenport, is heading to Stanford University, which has a 1.15 percent acceptance rate for transfer students. “I picked NVC because, prior to moving here, I researched community colleges to see which offered the best path to a good four-year school. Everything I found pointed to NVC. Want to go to Davis? NVC! Want to go to Berkeley? NVC! On top of that, the students raved about the professors and staff. They absolutely were not wrong,” said Davenport. His academic path to Stanford started at Napa Valley College in 2018; he then attended the Stanford Veteran Accelerator Program in summer 2019. Davenport will be attending the Warrior Scholar Project at Stanford this July. “It was a combination of the stellar academics and the dynamic, supportive community of NVC, along with these veteran-tailored academic programs that ultimately allowed me to fulfill my goal of transferring to Stanford University,” he said.
The deadline for universities to accept transfer student admissions is June 1, so the number of students transferring is not yet final, but 185 students have applied to UC campuses. Last year, 195 Napa Valley College students transferred to CSUs, 128 students to UC schools and 52 to private colleges to continue their education.
Besides Congressman Thompson, participants in the Virtual Transfer Celebration heard from Oscar De Haro, assistant superintendent/vice president, student affairs; Howard Willis, senior dean, counseling services and student success; Elizabeth Lara-Medrano, transfer center coordinator/counselor; and Omar Peña, student affairs specialist; as well as college/university representatives and current transfer students and NVC alumni. The program included Q&A sessions with representatives from UC, CSU and private/out-of-state universities. Additionally, transfer students had an opportunity to hear personal transfer stories from NVC alumni. But most of all, the event served to celebrate Napa Valley College students’ successful completion of their transfer paths and acceptance to four-year institutions. The event included drawings for prizes donated by Dutch Bros. Napa, LiveFire Pizza Oxbow and others, and concluded with a virtual after-party hosted by DJ Bob St. Laurent on 99.3 The Vine.