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UC/Vista Partnership Expands Educational Opportunities

By Lora Lee, Community Relations

Thanks to a long-term space sharing arrangement with the University of California, downtown Berkeley's Vista Community College is able to offer its students the unique opportunity to attend community college classes on a world-class university campus.

For the past 26 years, the university has provided classroom space at no cost to Vista for courses held at night and on Saturdays. About 40 percent of all Vista courses (about 170 a year) are held on the Berkeley campus. The remainder meet at leased facilities downtown and in other parts of the city. Vista plans to move to a permanent downtown location by the year 2003 but will continue holding classes on the UC campus as well.

"This is one of the few university-community college collaborations of its kind in California," said Maureen Knightly, an assistant dean at Vista. "It serves as a model for (schools in) other parts of the state."

Thousands of Vista students -- some of them UC employees -- have taken advantage of this partnership. Vista students are able to sample university life while enjoying the benefits of the community college's lower fees, extra services, relatively small class sizes, and work-schedule-fitting class times. Many Vista students have transferred to four-year universities, earning their undergraduate degrees after completing lower division requirements at the downtown community college.

"I felt like I belonged there [at UC]. You had a taste of what it was like to go to school on a university campus," says Ana Lopez, a Spanish major and recent Vista graduate.

As applications to UC Berkeley increase each year, Vista's long-standing relationship with the campus has not gone unnoticed. "There has been a marked increase during the past year-and-a-half in inquiries from students from all across the state and from international students about transfer opportunities to Cal," says Knightly. "Nonresidents are usually interested in establishing California residency while attending Vista before they try to transfer to Berkeley or another four-year university."

Perhaps the most gratifying aspect of the UC-Vista partnership is the growing self-esteem and confidence that comes from taking community college classes in a university setting.

"Some of these students who end up transferring to UC Berkeley or other four-year institutions are people who just two or three years ago were scared to death of going to college," says Knightly. "It's amazing to see how far they've come from taking a couple classes to going on to earn their degrees at a university."

Katherine Jones-West, who graduated from Vista with an associate degree in computer information systems in May, began with the intention of taking only a few computer classes. "The more I learned in those classes the more I wanted to take other classes and set my sights higher," says Jones-West, who is transferring to UC Berkeley's School of Social Welfare.

Like many other Vista students, Jones-West is thankful for the opportunity she had to take classes on the Berkeley campus. "At first I was a bit overwhelmed. I'd walk through the campus and think to myself that I was walking the path that all the great minds before me had also walked," says Jones-West. "Then I thought, why not me?"

For enrollment information, class schedules, or other questions, call Vista at (510) 841-8431 or 841-8860, Ext. 267. .


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