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Students filling seats at Santa Barbara City College with hopes of career skills or new options

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The student population is back up to nearly pre-pandemic levels at Santa Barbara City College, showing a strong interest in higher education and career planning.

Dr. Erika Endrijonas took over as the Superintendent/President with goals to help students just starting off in college, and also, those in the midst of a career change and who need new vocational skills.

So far there are 11,425 students enrolled. That number will go up with more still coming on board this week.

Before the COVID crisis, the campus population was close to 15,000.

"50 percent of the California Community College mission is economic and workforce development and job training and so especially as you think about how much the job force is changing whether it be AI  or various technologies or  some new companies coming into town, some leaving, whatever the case is, that's why people come to us,  " said Endrijonas.

Many students on campus spoke to News Channel 3-12 saying they were finding their classes, and getting answers to a variety of questions including course selections for their general education along with their future higher learning plans.

Many students are at SBCC through the local Promise Program that offers them two years of free books and tuition.

"It's been really good. I really like it. It is really useful  for students who can't afford school," said Berenice Gomez-Chavez who is considering a career in law enforcement.

Going to a community college will help student Skyler Metcalf on and off the campus. "It saves a lot of  time. It saves a lot of  money. I think I can do more things here than I could at  another university."

A student from northern California said she came to Santa Barbara after she didn't get the four year college of her choice, and also because a family member had attended SBCC and then went on to UC Santa Barbara with an automatic admission.

Charley Conner said the on campus help was helpful in many ways. "They seem very prepared for everything and they are very supportive  and all the counselors seem supportive  and they have so many good services. I am excited."

Walking through the campus on the first day, student Alan Yaroico took it in stride. "On the first day I'm a little nervous but I will get through it as time goes on."

In addition to having a commitment to high academic standards, in community meetings, Endrijonas said the message was "diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility and anti-racism are that guiding north star for this college."

SBCC just came off of two summer school sessions, and some students used that time to accelerate their educational path.

There was also an Old Spanish Days mercado in the parking lot, which brought thousands of people to the campus. That's viewed as a positive way to have a relationship with the community and possibly future students.

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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