Listening to students

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

A California community college involves students in shaping its redesign efforts.

Riverside City College (RCC) is dedicated to transforming and redesigning its institution to increase student success. And to do that, the college is listening to students.

Redesign efforts over the past three years led to the realization that the student voice is critical for when implementing any initiative. That’s why the Guided Pathways Student (GPS) Ambassador program was created.

The student ambassadors work side-by-side with college and district representatives on co-designing outreach campaigns and other on-boarding processes for incoming students.

RCC recently received a Student Engagement Innovation Grant to grow the program. The $5,000 grant, from the Foundation for California Community Colleges in partnership with the Guided Pathways Implementation Team, will fund six GPS ambassadors who will support scaling the college’s Guided Pathways initiative.

“The work that the students have participated in thus far has opened our eyes to the fact that student voice is needed to impact change, and this grant funding will help us do exactly that,” Monique Greene, Guided Pathways coordinator said in a press release. “With this project we will create a model for long-term student leadership and development and ensure our redesign efforts are equity-minded and student-centered.”

The grant-funded ambassadors serve on RCC committees providing feedback and insight into the student experience. They help committees make informed decisions on how to better support students, specifically in targeted equity groups, as well as their academic needs.

“I am eager to bring a student perspective to the college’s effort,” said Sydni Marquardt, Guiding Pathways student ambassador. “Our ideas and opinions are critical, and through our voice we can help students succeed not only in college, but in the world we live in.”

“We are excited to fully immerse students into our committee work and our institutional redesign conversations,” Greene added. “They are working on projects that will influence student success and increase student engagement across the institution.”

The Student Engagement Innovation Grant is designed to help community colleges experiment with and pilot innovations that amplify students’ voices equitably, particularly in the design and implementation of Guided Pathways efforts. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has further highlighted social and racial inequities, deploying innovative approaches is particularly important, as colleges transitioned to primarily virtual instruction, governance, and collaboration.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.