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.

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.

comedy magic

‘Comedy & Magic’ show at VVC will feature world-famous entertainers

comedy magic

Victor Valley College will host An Evening of Comedy & Magic, a crowd favorite show featuring world-famous performers on January 18th, 2020. The event will start at 7:30 p.m. in the VVC Performing Arts Center (Bldg. 54).

Sponsored by the Associated Student Body, this family-friendly show will include entertainment from a fantastic array of magicians, including comedy magician and host Chipper Lowell.

With an unusual blend of stand-up, improvisation and twisted visual magic, Lowell has twice been honored with “Comedy Magician of the Year!” by the International Magicians Society. 

Accompanying Lowell are three other accomplished performers: Pop Haydn, Elliott Hunter and Ryne Strom & Company.

Whit “Pop” Haydn was named Stage Magician of the Year in 2015 at the famed Magic Castle in Hollywood. He has opened for Jerry Seinfeld and the Smothers Brothers and served as the chief magic consultant on Norman Jewison’s major film “Bogus,” starring Whoopi Goldberg. 

Hunter is an international award-winning magician and sleight of hand artist. He has been seen performing on the Las Vegas Strip, under the Saint Louis Arch and even on NBC’s America’s Got Talent.

Finally, illusionist Ryne Strom will amaze show-goers as he “turns dreams into reality” in a theatrical experience featuring mind-boggling magic, hilarious comedy, audience participation and stunning illusions for the entire family.

VVC promises a show unlike any you’ve seen before at An Evening of Comedy & Magic on January 18th, 2020. The show has sold out for the past 10 years, so make sure to get your tickets early!

Regular admission is $20 for adults, $15 for seniors, $10 for children and $10 for current VVC ASB cardholders (ASB discounted tickets will not be available at the Box Office). Tickets are available online at or at the Ticket Office in the Student Activities Center (Bldg. 44) Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

VVC is located at 18422 Bear Valley Rd. in Victorville. For more information, call (760) 245-4271 ext. 2395.

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.

bishop johnson

Trip to Nashville connects VVC student with family history

Photo by Fabian Guillen

While in Nashville for a student leadership conference, an ASB Council member visited a cultural center dedicated to his historically significant relative: Bishop Joseph Johnson, the first African American to attend and graduate from Vanderbilt University.

Rashad Johnson, 26, is the Fine Arts Senator for VVC’s ASB Council and the great-great-nephew of Bishop Johnson. He was able to visit the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center while in Nashville, Tennessee to attend the American Student Association of Community Colleges’ (ASACC) annual conference earlier this month.

“I knew I had a distant relative who has a building named after him. Then when I saw we were going to Nashville, I thought, ‘Wow, this is crazy,’” Rashad said. “I had no idea how many people knew about him. He inspired a lot of people.”

Rashad described the Center as a “mini museum” and a place for students to socialize and study. It features an auditorium, study lounges, a seminar room and more. 

It was dedicated at Vanderbilt in 1984 to honor Bishop Johnson, who received his Bachelor of Divinity from the university in 1954 and his Ph.D. in 1958. He was also the first African American elected to serve as a full member of the university’s Board of Trustees in 1971.

Photo by Fabian Guillen

“It’s great to be my age I am now and know I have somebody in my family that inspirational,” Rashad said. 

Rashad graduated from VVC in Spring 2019 and is continuing to gain units to transfer to a four-year university, where he plans to study cinematography.

Photo by Fabian Guillen

He said that his new knowledge about his family history has motivated him to work even harder in school and in his future career.

“It’s cool to know I have somebody who has a legacy like that, to lead me,” he said. “I know people say you don’t always have to live up to your family, but I do want to make them proud.”

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.”

Ludymar Cester

VVC student spotlight: Ludymar Cester grows through challenges

Ludymar Cester

Story by Jacob Nobles

From a small town in Italy called Codigoro, near Venice, Ludymar Cester, a third year VVC student, has learned that challenges and failure bring opportunities.

When her family moved to California, Cester had to learn English. “It was really, really, really hard when I got here. I felt isolated and I couldn’t speak the language,” she said. “I was homesick. I could not memorize anything.”

Eventually, she overcame the barrier, learning English through music, television, and lots of reading

During her 2017 Silver Valley High School graduation ceremony, as Salutatorian, Cester spoke about failure.

“I learned through people that there is no such thing as failure but (rather) opportunities, and you all have made this adventure worth while,” she said, according to a Daily Press newspaper article.

She found this to be true at Victor Valley College. Originally, Cester was accepted to Cal State Fullerton, but due to financial reasons, she could not attend. This setback brought to light a new opportunity: VVC.

While attending, Cester continued her accomplished philanthropy and scholarly work. She began by enrolling into the first cohort of the First-Year Experience (FYE) program. The FYE program supports first year students through guidance classes, tutoring, and monthly progress reports.

“It was a great experience because it helps guide students who are kind of lost in the beginning,” Cester said. “They are constantly looking out for you.”

Later, in January 2018, Cester applied for the ASB position of Sciences Senator, then laterally moved to the position of Treasurer. From her experience in ASB, she learned how to organize events, complete purchase orders, effectively communicate, and prioritize tasks.

Cester plans on graduating with three degrees from VVC: Math & Science AS, Math & Science AA, and Behavioral Science AA. In addition to being a student, Cester is a student worker at Excelsior, Barstow campus extension.

On the weekends, she volunteers at the Red Cross as a case worker. When incidents happen, such as a house fire, the fire department will send in a captain and disaster assistant services will help families with supplies needed like blankets and food. Days later, the case worker calls the families and connects them to organizations that donate supplies.

“Sometimes clients are mean to you, sometimes they’re grateful, and sometimes they don’t answer. But it’s a good experience to know how to communicate with people who are in need,” Cester said. “They are frustrated in that moment so you can’t take things personal.”

In addition to working with the Red Cross, Cester works with COPE Health Solutions, located in Riverside. Here, she gains experience inside the emergency room and trauma room at Riverside Community Hospital.

“You see a lot of bleeding, bones out, bones in,” Cester depicted. “Just being there and observing everything, you learn a lot.”

Due to the unpredictability of the medical field, and for the betterment of those who are suffering, Cester wants to pursue medicine. In her experiences, the medical field is a career that combines both communication and action. She thoroughly enjoys the adrenaline and discovery of new methods.

“It is hard. I know what I’m up against, but hey, bring it on,” she said. “I accept the challenge. I’m not someone who gives up easily.”

After VVC, Cester wants to pursue a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience. She has applied to a handful of colleges, and has her eyes on UC Riverside. After she acquires her bachelor’s, Cester plans to enlist into the U.S. Air Force. Whatever happens next, she knows that any future roadblocks will only bring new and exciting opportunities.

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.”

University Fair

Grad Check & University Fair help students get on track

Grad Check
Photo by Fabian Guillen

Story by Sophia Mancillas

Victor Valley College hosted “Grad Check” in the Student Activities Center October 14th through 18th, encouraging students to attend if they had completed 30 or more transferable units and plan on graduating in the Spring of 2020.

Counselors were prepared to help students determine if they would be eligible for graduation. Many students expressed their excitement for how close they were to graduation and were grateful for the information they received from the counselors.

“I’m planning on doing the nursing program here,” said Marissa Mejia, a nursing student. “I have to take three more classes and then I can graduate.”

Jacob Nobles, who serves as Inter Club Council Senator on ASB Council, said he is planning on transferring out of state to Southern Utah University. “At first, I didn’t know what grad check was, but I was pleasantly surprised at all of the options and ease of the process,” Nobles said. “I’m majoring in political science to study law, teaching, and journalism with the hopes of achieving them.”

Grad Check was not the only event taking place on the 14th. VVC also hosted a University Fair in the SAC from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for students interested in transferring to a university in the near future.

University Fair
Photo by Fabian Guillen

The fair is held annually every fall semester. A total of 24 universities came to represent and provide information to the students.

Some of these universities included Azusa Pacific University, University of La Verne, Park University, Grand Canyon University, National University, University of Redlands.

“To help students transition to university, this semester we have provided a variety of activities, including transfer application workshops and university tours,” said Lorena Ochoa, a counselor for the Transfer Center and ESL. “And, of course, we also have counseling to help students transition.”

University Fair
Photo by Fabian Guillen

“To help students transition to university, this semester we have provided a variety of activities, including transfer application workshops and university tours,” said Lorena Ochoa, a counselor for the Transfer Center and ESL. “And, of course, we also have counseling to help students transition.”

The Transfer Center is a regular resource students have access to. The transfer application workshops for CSU/UC assist students with private and out-of-state university applications as needed.

The Center has already taken students to visit CSU Dominguez Hills and CSU LA. They plan on visiting the following in upcoming months: CSU Fullerton, UCLA, UC Irvine, University of Las Vegas and San Diego State University.