VVC holds two events celebrating largest graduating class

Victor Valley College staff and faculty cheer on Class of 2020 graduates as they enter the college’s first-ever “Drive-Thru Celebration by the Lake” on June 13, 2020. (FABIAN GUILLEN)

The Victor Valley College campus, after several months of quietness, was brightened by the spirit of commencement on Saturday, beginning with a drive-thru celebration which may have set a new standard for graduation.

Cap-and-gown-clad grads popped up from sunroofs, waved pompoms out car windows and shed tears of joy as they were exuberantly cheered on by VVC employees during the college’s first-ever “Drive-Thru Celebration by the Lake” from 9 a.m. to noon.

Grad in sunroof
A Victor Valley College graduate drives up for the college’s “Drive-Thru Celebration” on June 13, 2020. Nearly 400 of the 1,500 graduates participated in the event held on the same day as the “Virtual Commencement Ceremony.” (FABIAN GUILLEN)

“It was so fun, and I think my family actually preferred it this way, more than the traditional ceremony … we were able to celebrate all together in the moment,” said graduate Dario Arriaga.

Complete with colorful decorations around the lake, live music from Mariachi Aguila Real, and small ramp “stage” on which graduates could park for a photo-op, the drive-thru was no doubt one of the most memorable VVC graduations, staff and students agreed.

Mariachi Aguila Real
Mariachi Aguila Real, a High Desert-local group of musicians, plays during Victor Valley College’s “Drive-Thru Celebration” to honor graduates on June 13, 2020. (FABIAN GUILLEN)

It was the earlier of two VVC celebratory events on Saturday, to be followed by another first-ever, the “Virtual Commencement Ceremony,” livestreamed from the Performing Arts Center at 6 p.m. 

Interspersed between graduates’ cars were classic cars from several local car clubs in the High Desert, leading the way.

Classic car
Classic cars from several local car clubs guided Victor Valley College graduates onto the ramp “stage” near the VVC Library during the drive-thru celebration on June 13, 2020. (JULIO MANZO)

“As we came around the turn to the lake and I saw everyone cheering and heard the music and seeing our professors there, I started crying with happiness,” said graduate Chad Read. “Again, through everything we’ve endured this year, VVC made sure we felt special and gave us an amazing ceremony.”

Chad Read
Victor Valley College graduate and U.S. Air Force veteran Chad Read drives through the VVC graduation celebration event held on June 13, 2020. (VVC)

With a total of 1,500 graduates and an additional 250 students who earned certificates at VVC this year, the college surveyed students in May, discovering a near tie between those who wanted a drive-thru and those who wanted a virtual ceremony.

Victor Valley College chose to do both. Watch the livestreamed videos of both here.

Driving grad
Eric Pearson, former coordinator of the Victor Valley College Performing Arts Center (retired 2015), drives his daughter, 2020 graduate Aleana Pearson, at the “Drive-Thru Celebration by the Lake” on June 13, 2020. (VVC)

Additionally, VVC has offered 2020 graduates the opportunity to walk in next year’s commencement ceremony, which, assuming coronavirus-related health orders regarding events are withdrawn by then, will be held at the Glen Helen Amphitheater, America’s largest outdoor music venue.

While the drive-thru portion of Saturday’s festivities provided an occasion for graduates to decorate their caps and cars, cheer and honk their horns, and receive small takeaway gifts — including graduation yard signs and commemorative medallions — the virtual ceremony embraced the formal aspects of commencement.

Grad in car
A Victor Valley College graduate and her family drive through the college’s celebration by the lake held on June 13, 2020. (FABIAN GUILLEN)

Superintendent/President Dr. Dan Walden welcomed attendees tuning into the live video on the VVC website, congratulating graduates on joining “a distinguished list” of VVC alumni and recognizing faculty and staff for their contributions to the success of the Class of 2020.

Graduate Jonathan Bañuelos sang the National Anthem, soon followed by an address from VVC Board of Trustees President Joseph W. Brady.

Victor Valley College graduate Jonathan Bañuelos sang the National Anthem during the college’s Virtual Commencement Ceremony on June 13, 2020. (SCREEN SHOT OF VIDEO)

Brady shared many pieces of advice with graduates, including “share your solutions, not your problems,” “do what you love to do or you’re just wasting time” and “challenge the status quo.”

“Our hope, as trustees, is that many of you will return to the High Desert to become our local entrepreneurs, managers and executives, and continue to reshape the leadership that our community needs in order to continually grow and prosper,” Brady said.

In her speech, Associated Student Body (ASB) President Amber Scott encouraged her peers to “apply the knowledge and skills” they gained at VVC to elevate themselves and others.

Victor Valley College graduate Amber Scott, the 2019-2020 Associated Student Body President and Students Trustee, addresses her graduating peers during the college’s Virtual Commencement Ceremony on June 13, 2020. (SCREEN SHOT OF VIDEO)

“We will never forget the time in 2020 when the entire world had to stop,” Scott said. ‘But we always remember and carry with us the very same character, ethics, and beliefs that helped us remain loyal to our goals. Today we celebrate that.”

Walden introduced the featured guest speaker, Mugunth Vaithylingam, Chief Information Officer for the College of Southern Nevada, to provide graduates with additional guidance as they look toward future opportunities. Listen to his full speech here.

“You surmounted a challenge that has necessitated this ceremony to be virtual, and that is not something to be understated,” Vaithylingam said. “As you go on to the next part of your life story, cherish what you have accomplished, lift up others, value time, and remember that we are all in this life together.”

Mugunth Vaithylingam, Chief Information Officer for the College of Southern Nevada, served as the featured guest speaker for Victor Valley College’s Virtual Commencement Ceremony on June 13, 2020. (SCREEN SHOT OF VIDEO)

He ended on this phrase: “Humankind. Be both.”

Vice President of Instruction Dr. Peter Maphumulo recognized all of the honor graduates, Phi Theta Kappa international honors students and those who served the ASB Council, while Walden gave special thanks and congratulations to VVC’s veteran graduates.

The college had a record number of valedictorians this year, with 22 students graduating with a perfect 4.0 grade point average. Of them, Courtney Wells, who earned three associate degrees including a sociology degree for transfer, was selected as the valedictorian class speaker.

Wells shared that her experience of being homeschooled 1st through 12th grade taught her to be independent, but caused her to miss out on “a sense of community.”

Courtney Wells, one of 22 valedictorians in Victor Valley College’s 2020 graduating class, speaks during the Virtual Commencement Ceremony on June 13, 2020. (SCREEN SHOT OF VIDEO)

“After coming to VVC, it was a really massive turning point for me to realize that I couldn’t just get through life without forming connections with others or without utilizing every support system that is offered to me,” Wells said. “…as we look out for each other through these unusual times and continue on towards the endeavors that await us in the future, Victor Valley College will continue to be a source of support for us because this college has been, and always will be, a welcoming community for all.”

Following the speeches, a slideshow played featuring nearly 600 graduates who signed up to participate in the virtual ceremony. Each graduate’s name was announced as their personalized slide displayed their photo, degrees earned and a short personal statement.

Once all the graduates were recognized, Walden and Maphumulo performed the official conferring of degrees and Scott led the class in the traditional turning of the tassel to symbolize the end of the VVC Class of 2020’s journey together.

Watch the livestreamed videos of the Drive-Thru Celebration and the Virtual Commencement here.

You did it
Pathways to Success

VVC Career Education programs offer many ‘Pathways to Success’

Pathways to Success

The 2020 Pathways to Success event filled the SBC Fair with more than 3,000 high school students who connected with local manufacturers and Victor Valley College representatives to learn about various career opportunities.

The annual event was held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, featuring dozens of exhibits highlighting some of the region’s top industries.

A handful of the information tables at the event represented VVC career education programs, including automotive, aviation, criminal justice, medical assistant, restaurant management and respiratory therapy.

“The message we share with students is to try different things … We want to aim them toward a career,” said Automotive/Industrial Technologies faculty member Steven Coultas. “We’ve gotten a lot of exposure to new students, particularly those at high schools without an automotive program.”

Pathways to Success

According to a statement on First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood’s website, the aim of Pathways to Success is to both “broaden the awareness” of manufacturing in the High Desert and to establish networking between business leaders, training providers and students. 

VVC aviation instructor Ricardo Flores said the event allowed him to connect not only with students, but with local school district officials as well.

Pathways to Success

“There have been a lot of faculty members from other schools interested in learning more about our programs, which is great,” Flores said. “We’re sharing with them and with students what our programs are, what to expect and what opportunities it can lead to.”

The restaurant management program from VVC was also a popular table, where Department Chair Tyler Busch and student volunteers were handing out samples of chips and salsa along with brochures to students who stopped by.

Pathways to Success

“This event is a lot bigger than it was a few years ago, and that’s so cool to see for us in Career Education,” Busch said. “It’s so important to us for students to know they don’t have to go to a four-year college and spend six years of their life and lots of money … to have a successful career. They can go into a trade — that’s the backbone of this country.”

Administration of Justice Director Rand Padgett said that students were more engaged than ever and very “inquisitive” throughout the event this year.

Pathways to Success

“One of the best things is that some of them who’ve come up are already enrolled in our dual enrollment classes for criminal justice,” Padgett said, noting that Adelanto, Granite Hills, Oak Hills and Victor Valley high schools all offer college-level criminal justice classes.

Patrick Schlosser, Assistant Superintendent for Apple Valley Unified School District, said the district had about 300 students at Pathways to Success, an event they prioritize each year.

“A lot of vendors here today are industry partners for us … This sends our students back to school with a sense of purpose,” Schlosser said. 

Pathways to Success

Larry Porras and Michael Everett, principles of Oak Hills and Hesperia high schools, respectively, echoed the same sentiment, adding that the event allows students to meet real people from various industries.

“It’s important for our students to have that face-to-face time with different career opportunities,” Evertt said.

Porras added that “the interaction they have opens their minds” to paths they may not otherwise have considered. 

Sean Cullen, a clinical instructor of respiratory therapy at VVC, noted that many of the students he spoke with during the event didn’t know what respiratory therapy was.

Pathways to Success

“When most people think about entering the medical field, they only think about nursing. So we’re able to open their eyes to another opportunity and give them some insight about our program,” Cullen said.

Violet Rodarte, a student volunteer representing VVC’s medical assistant program, said they had a lot of students express interest in their program at the event.

Pathways to Success

“I love the way they light up as we’re talking to them,” Rodarte said. “For me, I know that when I was younger, I would have taken this class a lot sooner if someone had told me about it.”

Pathways to Success is part of the “Made in the High Desert” showcase, which is put on in collaboration by San Bernardino County and Victor Valley Motors.


Poverty Awareness Month brings panel to VVC

Photo by Fabian Guillen

Story by Brian Woods

In support of National Poverty Awareness Month, Victor Valley College partnered with San Bernardino County to host an informational screening and panel discussion calling attention to intergenerational poverty and discussing strategies to combat it.

The event, held on January 23 in the Student Activities Center, was a collaborative effort between community partners, county representatives and VVC staff. The panel sought to provide information and resources on combating homelessness and poverty both on and off campus. 

Photo by Fabian Guillen

County Departments of Behavioral Health, Child Support Services, Public Health, Transitional Assistance and Veterans Affairs were present, as well as the 2020 Census Bureau and local entities such as High Desert Homeless Services.

VVC Superintendent/President Dr. Daniel Walden began the event with a message about community and support.

“I think most, if not all of us, have food on our table and a bed to lay in at night… but there are people who do not have enough.. This makes this kind of event so much more important,” Walden said. “Some people just don’t quite have the height to reach the apple sitting atop the tree. We need to provide that lift for them.”

Shortly after, a CBS News Sunday Morning segment entitled “Homeless College Students: Out in the Cold” was screened, which highlights the severity, statistics and real-life testimonies of homeless college students across the country. 

According to the segment, college students are the fastest growing demographic impacted by poverty today. An estimated 68,000 students claim to be homeless on their FAFSA, according to Federal Student Aid reports. 

During the panel discussion after the screening, county department representatives spoke on their current efforts and overall missions to combat homelessness. Recurring topics included campus outreach programs, child care, housing initiatives, nutritional education and transitional assistance. 

Photo by Fabian Guillen

Focus then shifted to the different networks on campus meant to provide stability, support and resources for at-risk or low-income students. This included the Extended Opportunities Programs and Services, Next-Up foster youth program, Veterans Resource Center and “The Peak” food pantry.

“We were able to open (the food pantry) with the help of departments across campus … We are giving away around 140 packs of food a day,” Homeless Youth Liaison and Financial Aid specialist Elaine Navarrete said. “It’s open to all students who are enrolled… It’s something they really needed.”

The discussion concluded with representatives emphasizing the importance of risk prevention and resource education, including behavioral, mental and nutritional health. A Q&A portion followed, allowing audience members to engage with county representatives regarding community concerns and ways to strengthen support on campus. 

To learn more about resources available both on and off campus, students can contact Elaine Navarrete at More information on resources available through San Bernardino County programs can be found by visiting


VVC celebrates 23 graduates of Corrections Academy


Story by Brian Woods

Victor Valley College recently celebrated the graduation of the 70th session Corrections Core Academy program.

The Standards and Training for Corrections (STC) module provided a platform for 23 graduates to complete the 16-week program, held at the VVC Regional Public Safety Training Center in Apple Valley.

Communication, integrity and self-discipline were among the recurring themes of the night,  with an intimate crowd of faculty, family, and friends attending in support. 

The opening statement was given by Administration of Justice Director Rand Padgett, with an inspiring invocation by class Assisting Officer Mariah Treto. A moment of silence ensued to pay respect to fallen law enforcement entities, and the introduction of the Session #70 class began thereafter. 

Class speaker Arick Luna filled the venue with a hopeful message of insight and growth.

“Looking back, it’s the small details we will all take with us from this day forward,” Luna said. “Integrity begins with the smallest amount of effort… a symbolic representation of who we are becoming.”

Luna continued to say that the values he and his peers gained through the program can be applied to any future trials they face.

“Although this course has come to an end, we must take our experiences and the applications of self-defence, integrity, communication, and self-discipline,” he said.

Guest speaker Shannon Dicus, Undersheriff for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, also delivered a powerful speech on the importance of youth in Corrections’ careers.

“I left the graduation inspired. The young people in the graduating class were focused on their career choices, and it was evident by the ceremony that they are well on their way,” Dicus said. “VVC is doing its part by providing this essential training to area youth…To say I left inspired isn’t enough — I feel taller after spending time with the graduates. We are in good hands.”

The STC Core Academy prepares students for an established and fulfilling career in criminal justice, as a city or county corrections officer, and more. Visit to learn more about the VVC Corrections Academy.


VVC students supported by on-campus tutoring

Photo by Julio Manzo

Story by Julio Manzo

It’s the week before finals. You feel a familiar tingling of panic as you realize that you are not prepared for your math final.

As your eyes begin to cross from staring at the same problem for the last hour, you ask yourself, “Who thought it was a good idea to put letters in math? I need help.”

But who can help? Answer: The Tutoring & Academic Support Center at Victor Valley College.

In December, the Center hosted the Stress Less Study-A-Thon in conjunction with VVC’s Math and English departments. The event was designed to assist students in comprehending subjects that have plagued them all semester.

Story by Julio Manzo

“The whole purpose is to make sure the students are well-prepared when they walk into their final,” said Anh Weis, VVC math instructor and head of the Math Success Center.

The event gathered tutors for math, english, psychology, biology, chemistry and political science from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to give students a chance to learn subjects in a more personal setting.

Math Center
Photo by Julio Manzo

Desiree Thomas, a student at VVC, said the one-on-one approach has helped her tremendously. “Someone stops for a second and sits down with us and they break it down, then we can help each other from there,” Thomas said.

Willa Vault, Desiree’s study partner who she met in the Math Center said she would have dropped her class if it hadn’t been for the help she received in the Center.

“If there’s a concept I don’t understand, I have to go to the math center,” Vault said.

Both Thomas and Vault said that Fall 2019 was their last semester of math. Desiree hopes to be an ultrasound technician and to major in psychology, while Vault wants to major in nursing.

Students at Studyathon
Story by Julio Manzo

This is Weis’ third year coordinating the Study-A-Thon and she has big plans for the Math Success Center. Over the past three years the Math Success Center’s utilization has risen 30%, with more than 11,000 sign-ins and 17,000 hours spent in it by students.

Weis is constantly looking for new ways to improve the student experience. For example, she noticed that many students taking Math 85 do not know how to use their calculator, so next semester she is planning to hold a workshop that shows students how to use their calculator for basic math and statistics.

Story by Julio Manzo

Her mission in the Math Success Center is to make sure the students feel comfortable so they can build a support network.

“Give them the support but at the same time let them work together,” she said. “Because when they’re willing to work together that knowledge expands bigger than anything you can imagine.”

Visit to learn more about the tutoring and academic support services available to VVC students.

kip thorne

Victor Valley College to welcome Nobel laureate Kip Thorne Jan. 31

VICTORVILLE — Renowned theoretical physicist and 2017 Nobel laureate Kip Thorne will give a free talk for Victor Valley College’s 5th Annual Lecture Series on January 31.

Thorne is one of the world’s leading experts on the astrophysical implications of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. His upcoming lecture, entitled “My Romance with the Warped Side of the Universe,” will cover everything “from black holes and wormholes to time travel and gravitational waves.”

Thorne said that most of his 50-year career has been devoted to exploring the “Warped Side,” which he defines as “objects and phenomena that are made from warped space and time.”

“When I started, the ‘Warped Side’ was a wildly far-out speculation,” Thorne said. “I will describe how my students, colleagues and I transformed a portion of it — black holes and gravitational waves — into firmly established and observed phenomena…”

He will also discuss what and how he has learned about wormholes and time travel and “speculate about future discoveries,” including the birth of the universe.

This is the 5th annual “Taking Your Family to the Victor Valley College Lectures Series,” which was founded to provide local students with opportunities to hear from some of the most illustrious STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) researchers in the world.

Previous events within the series include “Taking Your Family to Pluto” with a lecture from Dr. Mark Showalter, a senior research scientist at the SETI Institute and the discoverer of six moons and three planetary rings, and “Taking Your Family to Interstellar Space” featuring Emer Reynolds, director of the 2017 Emmy Award-winning documentary “The Farthest.”

“These lectures celebrate the thrill of scientific achievement that moves us forward in our understanding of the universe in which we live,” said VVC astronomy instructor Linda Kelly. “Kip Thorne is coming to our college and our region to inspire the next generation of scientists.”

Thorne is the co-founder of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), which made the first-ever observation of ripples in the fabric of space and time, called gravitational waves, on September 14, 2015. Two years from that date, he and two of his fellows, Rainer Weiss and Barry Barish, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.

“Because of his work and receiving the Nobel Prize in Physics, humanity will be able to see back to the beginning of time,” Kelly said. “We applaud our founding sponsors and recognize what an amazing opportunity this will be for students of the entire region as they consider attending college at VVC and then beyond, to make their dreams come true.”

The lecture series is put on with the support of the VVC Foundation, the VVC STEM division, Edison International, The Lewis Center for Educational Research, the VVC Bridge Program and the VVC Associated Student Body.

Kip Thorne’s lecture, “My Romance with the Warped Side of the Universe,” will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, January 31 at the First Assembly of God, located at 15260 Nisqualli Rd. in Victorville.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Parking is also free for this event. Visit to RSVP online.

Nursing Class of Fall 2019

Victor Valley College celebrates Fall 2019 nursing graduates

Nursing Class of Fall 2019

VICTORVILLE — Last week, 35 Victor Valley College nursing graduates participated in a pinning and candlelight ceremony to celebrate their completion of one of the nation’s most elite nursing programs. 

The ceremony was held at High Desert Church in December to honor the nursing class of Fall 2019. Dressed in traditional white uniforms, the future registered nurses each recited the International Nursing Pledge.

Part of the pledge reads: “I will endeavour to keep my professional knowledge and skill at the highest level and to give loyal support and cooperation to all members of the health team.”

Interim Director of Nursing Renate Longoria explained that the ceremony symbolizes the end of the many challenges that the students overcame throughout the strenuous program. She said the knowledge they gained has not only enabled them to become registered nurses, but has also made them “more confident individuals.”

Longoria introduced various notable figures present at the ceremony, including the VVC Board of Trustees, and thanked the family and friends of the graduates for their continued support.

Reyna Monroy, vice president of the California Nursing Students’ Association (CNSA) for the class, recognized the cabinet members of CNSA and shared some highlights of the program. 

“The purpose of the CNSA is to prepare the future leaders of nursing, by ‘advancing the transition from student nurse to a professional nurse through leadership, education, mentorship and advocacy,’” she said. “This year we participated in many events that gave back to the community.”

Among these events, the class collaborated with the Victor Valley Rescue Mission to serve hot meals and provide health care services in the community, assisted the Hesperia Leisure League in collecting clothes for senior citizens at Spring Valley Post Acute and worked with the VVC Associated Student Body in placing 3,000 flags in honor of the victims of September 11th, 2001.

Monroy also introduced instructor Diana Sisk, who was honored with the Fall 2019 “Make a Difference” award.

As a class, the students voted on one staff member who they felt helped them make it through the program.

“(Diana) was available all year round,” Monroy said. “She personally came to sit with you when you didn’t understand something and sat with you until you understood.”

Class of Fall 2019 President Adrian Gonzalez-Carrillo also spoke before his peers, sharing some of his favorite memories from the program as well as the challenges faced throughout.

“This nursing program has shaped us all into people that we could have never imagined, and though getting to this point was not easy, I want to say thank you to everyone who stood by us and for seeing us through,” Gonzalez-Carrillo said. “…As all of us go out to step foot into our new careers and with some of us going on to continue our education, I want to say no matter what you do or wherever this amazing career takes you, continue to strive, continue to succeed, and continue to aspire to make a difference.”

Student Achievement awards went to four graduates with the highest grade point averages: Aleksey Sebryakov, Emily Rodriguez, Ashley Hay and Reyna Monroy.

Clinical Excellence awards went to Irina Cruse for medical surgery, Brittany Robinson for advanced medical surgery, Adrian Gonzalez-Carrillo for maternal/child, Luis Rosas for pediatrics and Dawn Jabonillo for mental health. The Student Leadership Award went to Justine Gómez. 

VVC’s nursing program is among the nation’s most elite. In California, it is ranked among the top 5 programs by several surveys, including, which ranks it as No. 4 and praises it for producing graduates who are “ready to work.”

The entire graduating class of Fall 2019 is as follows: Amanda Agrusa, Ashley Alberts, Rosalinda Anguiano, Angela Buck, Carmira (Karma) Cortez, Irina Cruse, Me’Shell Davis, Gretchen Dennison, Nathalie García, Sean Fall, Naomi Flores, Brandon Foster, Michael García, David Gaul, Justine Gómez, Adrian Gonzales-Carrillo, Ashley Hay, Audrey Hayes, Dawn Jabonillo, Melissa Jaramillo, Cassidy Jones, Jonette Kruk, Jessica Maley, Reyna Monroy, Jennifer Porón Barrios, Brittany Robinson, Christina Rodriguez, Emily Rodriguez, Luis Rosas, Aleksey Sebryakov, Elizabeth Seidler, Shana Strathmann, Gladys Thompson, Rhiannon Torres, Jennifer Will.

award ceremony

VVC student awarded for designing Food Collaborative logo

award ceremony
Photo by Fabian Guillen

Story by Jacob Nobles

The High Desert Food Collaborative (HDFC) recently hosted a logo competition, rewarding $1,000 to the winning design at an award ceremony held Nov. 15th.

The competition was specifically catered to Victor Valley College graphic art students, 18 of which submitted new designs.

VVC’s partnership with HDFC allows the student food pantry on campus to remain stocked and ready to hand out packages of food to students in need each day.

The contest was held through a partnership between Christina Keneti from the High Desert Second Chance food distribution center and the Kaiser Foundation, which donated the prize money. Besides the prize money, the Kaiser Foundation has previously provided a $10,000 grant and donated hundreds of Meals-Ready-To-Eat (MRE’s) to The Peak.

“This contest will not only bring awareness of The High Desert Food Collaborative and our efforts in fighting food insecurity in the High Desert to your students and faculty, but will also show how VVC plays an important part in it,” Keneti said.

Out of the 18 submissions, 34-year-old graphic art student Andre Higgins’ design was picked and unveiled as the new logo.

Higgins’ design partly consists of a heart-shaped red apple with two green leaves sitting atop the apple and a white backdrop. The greater design details the words “High Desert Food Collaborative” with the slogan, “From us to you.” The words, “High Desert” are printed in an earth-tone green with a Joshua Tree sprouting out of the “I.” The words “Food Collaborative” are a pastel orange and the slogan matches the earth-tone green.

Higgins is self-taught in photoshop and Adobe Illustrator and has been influenced by his uncle, who has had an established 20 year career with Sony Motion Pictures. Higgins even built his own computer at the beginning of the semester, so his winnings will go toward paying off the leftover expenses at Best Buy.

Higgins plans on graduating from VVC with three certificates and a degree next year.

“My major includes 3D modeling, animation, motion picture special effects, and filmmaking. I actually self-taught myself Photoshop … when I used to be involved in the hip hop world under the name Diggy Dre,” Higgins said. “I am hoping that my future includes working with my uncle at Sony Motion Pictures.”

VVC is one of 65 partners of HDFC and the only community college partnership. The Peak food pantry, located on the second floor of the Student Activities Center, opened in Fall 2017 and hands out approximately 135 food packs a day. 

Elaine Navarrete, Financial Aid Specialist and Homeless Youth Liaison for VVC, said the college is grateful for the continued partnership with HDFC, noting that the logo competition was a very special opportunity.

“This is something to be proud of,” Navarrete said. “This is an example of how strong community partnerships can help create other awesome opportunities for our VVC students.”


VVC students receive emergency response training during Multi-Discipline Day

Photo by Fabian Guillen

Story by Charity Lindsey & Julio Manzo

First responders in training received valuable preparation for their future jobs during Victor Valley College’s Multi-Discipline Day on Nov. 14th.

The biannual event is filled with roughly 45 drills meant to give VVC’s nursing, law enforcement, fire technology, emergency medical technology, and paramedic students a taste of real scenarios that they may encounter in their careers. 

“Several scenarios have been set up around the Regional Public Safety Training Center to expose students to realistic police and corrections situations and investigations to assist them in their learning experience,” said Rand Padgett, Director of Criminal Justice at VVC. “Students will be putting the skills they have been taught to work through situations and investigations.”

Photo by Fabian Guillen

Nursing students ran the, “VVC Trauma Center,” which simulates Arrowhead Regional Medical Center. There were students covered in special effects makeup including realistic lacerations, burns, and other wounds.

“They’re learning the principles of emergency medicine,” said VVC nursing professor Terry Truelove. “It’s teaching them triage protocol during an emergency, like a natural disaster.”

Students from Academy for Academic Excellence (AAE), Academy for Career Exploration (ACE), Options for Youth, and Oak Hills, Sultana, Yucaipa, and Hesperia high schools observed as VVC students utilized their newly learned skills.

Every single one of the 250 high school students who attended also gained a life-saving skill while visiting the RPSTC: How to perform CPR.

Photo by Fabian Guillen

Emil Kennås, a foreign exchange student from Sweden who is a senior at ACE, was pleasantly surprised by the events that took place.

“The most surprising thing was how realistic everything was. I have never seen something like this in Sweden so it was so cool to see,” Kennås said. “My biggest dream is to be a doctor in my home country, Sweden. So seeing this was so inspiring.”

Photo by Fabian Guillen

Amid the hospital simulation, fire technology students were battling vehicle and dumpster fires and extricating victims from the wreckage of a car accident. Scenarios went on throughout the afternoon, including a police riot and active shooter training.

The RPSTC holds these training days twice a year; once in spring semester and once in fall. Along with providing important real-life learning for VVC students, it allows high school students in the region an opportunity to get a glimpse of college-level training.

High school students
Photo by Fabian Guillen

Joseph Alexy, a senior at AAE, said the “experience was amazing.”

“Being able to see behind the scenes and witness what training is involved to be able to become a firefighter, EMR, or a police office was such a unique experience,” Alexy said. “They really do training for anything which shows just how dedicated they were.”

VVC kicks off efforts to pursue Aspen Prize


The kickoff meeting for a new advisory group established to lead Victor Valley College in its pursuit of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence was held Tuesday and met with tremendous positive feedback.

The VVC Aspen Congress will review and make recommendations about college practices with the aim of helping VVC earn the Aspen Prize, the nation’s most distinctive award for community colleges.

“The VVC Aspen Congress will serve as an advisory group to me and participation is 100 percent voluntary,” Superintendent/President Dr. Daniel Walden said. “Our initial goal is to be in the top 900 community colleges in the country.” 

There are about 1,500 community colleges in the U.S., 927 of which are eligible for the Aspen, a $1 million prize awarded every two years. Once in the top 900 community colleges, VVC’s next goal is to be in the top 15 percent. After that, the top 10 colleges, and finally, the no. 1 community college in the nation.

Aspen Congress

With a singular focus on student success, the prize highlights institutions with outstanding achievements in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and high-levels of access and success for students of color and low-income students.

In this endeavor, VVC is working with the Institute for Evidence-Based Change (IEBC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping education stakeholders use data to increase student success. 

President/CEO of IEBC, Brad C. Phillips, spoke to a group of more than 150 college employees during the first meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Aspen Congress

“Aspen brings all the things you’re already doing together. It’s about the outcome of your work,” Phillips said. “Students can’t win the award unless we are supporting and helping them be successful.”

Phillips shared his assessment of Aspen award winners, noting that they have all made students “front and center” in everything they do.

“We have to examine our habits and policies to see if they still make sense,” he said. “This is a process and takes time.”

He added that to be successful, VVC has “got to believe” they can achieve their goals and must prioritize collaboration. 

Attendees of the kickoff meeting were asked to share ideas at their tables, creating a buzz of conversation that marked the beginning of the work of the VVC Aspen Congress. When asked what participants were most excited about in doing this work, answers included “working together,” “improving the college reputation,” and “changing our community.”

Walden announced that the Aspen Congress meetings will be held the first Tuesday of each month from 2 to 3 p.m. on the second floor of the Student Activities Center. 

“We do not want to forget about this. Every month is our reminder,” Walden said. “We want to work together to see our students become successful in completing their degrees, getting jobs that are competitive in the workforce and hopefully staying here in the High Desert to work after they have graduated from VVC.”