News — 22 May 2017

By Christopher Hartwell @SilienceSeen

As new programs reach out to students to create networks of friends and classmates, Las Positas puts the community into community college.

The newest program, Umoja, is debuting on campus this year and promises to raise intercultural issues in the classroom while supporting student success.

According to Kimberly Burks, LPC counselor, Umoja is a two- semester learning community where students will take courses with their classmates in the program.

Starting with English 1A, Psychology Counseling 30 and library research skills in the fall followed by English 4 and Psychology Counseling 10 in the spring, it’s  12 units over two semesters.

“I (think) it’s probably an experience more than a course,” founding faculty member Kisha Turner said. “It will hit not only academic, but social and cultural relevance for students.”

In addition to the course load, Umoja program students will have a dedicated counselor and faculty member to help create a supportive environment.  Included in the Umoja community classrooms will be guest speakers, college tours, intercultural course material and access to other transfer events.

“It provides an awesome opportunity for students that are seeking intercultural relationships and intercultural exposure,” Burks said. “And Umoja is an awesome way to do that.”

The Umoja program creates a community that uniquely fulfills a cultural need on campus. Rajiv Vijayakumar, a student involved with assisting the creation of this program, feels that this community is really needed on campus.

“It’s a great program. Just like the Puente program,” he said.  “Umoja is doing the same thing for African American students as well as students of color and minorities. It’s just another way for like-minded individuals to succeed.”

Even if this program is aimed at the African American population on campus, the program does not discriminate and welcomes all students to join.

Turner extends an invite to anybody who is interested or who can relate in subjects like political climate with conversations about Black Lives Matter, conversations about black intellectualism and civil rights from the past to the present. She wants students  to have those kinds of conversations in a safe space where they feel comfortable expressing their true feelings. In that, it is an experience for students.

For more information and to sign up in the Umoja program, email Kimberly Burks at kburks@laspositascollege.edu or Kisha Turner at kturner@laspositascollege.edu.

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