Size Of Students’ Drive Matches A Bigger Campus

By Walter Yost – Bee Staff Writer

Sacramento Bee, CA
May 21 2007

In all his years as an educator, Stuart Van Horn said the dedication
of students at the Rancho Cordova Center is what makes the hairs
stand up on the back of his spine.

Van Horn, dean at the Folsom Lake College satellite campus, recalled
the student body’s reaction last fall when students were relocated
to National University for six weeks while construction was completed.

"I could’ve put them in a minivan stalled in the middle of Highway
50 and said we’re having classes here," Van Horn said. "Few others
can match their commitment."

"We are the true people’s college," Van Horn says of the nearly
600-student Rancho Cordova Center.

Located in a Rockingham Drive strip mall, the school operates out of
a leased storefront next door to the Mt. Zion Church Center and the
Toner Cartridge Testing Lab.

Even though recent expansion nearly doubled the college’s size to
10,000 square feet — adding new classrooms, offices, a conference room
and a student lounge — there are homes in Granite Bay that are larger.

The college center’s cultural diversity is a reflection of the city
surrounding it. English is the primary language for only about 40
percent of the students, and English as a second language courses
constitute nearly a third of this fall’s class offerings.

At the school’s open house earlier this year, Van Horn said the
campus multicultural club held a food fair — offering dishes from
21 different ethnic groups.

Students’ family-income levels are significantly lower than at
both Folsom Lake College’s main campus and its El Dorado Center
in Placerville.

Asmik Dallakyam, a native of Armenia and the mother of six, has taken
several art classes at the Rancho Cordova Center and wants to open
an interior design business.

Sitting in a crowded watercolor painting class last week, Dallakyam
said one of her challenges attending college is transportation.

The Rancho Cordova resident doesn’t drive and said it’s hard for her
to get to the Folsom Lake College campus.

Her husband drives her to the Rancho Cordova Center, where she’s also
taken business and computer classes.

It’s not just the center’s students who have to make adjustments at
the storefront campus.

Talver Germany teaches beginning watercolor painting in a classroom
not designed for art classes.

Approximately 25 students and their drawing pads fill the room —
which is otherwise used for academic subjects like English and math.

A small sink in the back is the only place to clean up.

"We make it work," said Germany, a full-time counselor at Folsom
Lake College.

Part of the campus’ recent expansion includes a new student services
office, where Victor Duron, Brandon Cruz and Gayane Pustovit work.

Many of the students they assist, Duron said, are juggling school,
family and work.

"We help them with selecting courses, the application process and
applying for financial aid," Cruz said.

Cruz said the center provides "equal access to higher education."

Pustovit, who speaks Armenian, Russian and Ukrainian, keeps busy as
a translator at the college.

Van Horn, who also serves as Folsom Lake College’s dean of career and
technical education, said college officials want to open a permanent
campus in Rancho Cordova by fall 2012. They’ve been shopping for a
site along Folsom Boulevard with light-rail access.

Enrollment has continued to grow since the campus opened in spring
of 2001 and the school currently offers courses in 24 disciplines.

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