This story is in collaboration with the Moreno Valley College Herald.
By Daesha Gear
The Welcome Center for Moreno Valley College opened fall semester to provide first-time and returning students with services to ensure academic success.
Previous student service locations created challenges for faculty when offering their assistance to MVC students as spaces were limited.
“We were in a smaller office in Student Activity Building 105,” Cynthia Ramirez, Puente coordinator, said. “But it was a much smaller area as we had a maximum of two to three students with a mentor, counselor or English instructor there at the time.”
The Welcome Center is an upgrade in location for Student Services due to the help of Measure C.
Measure C, a $350 million bond approved by voters residing within Riverside Community College’s District in March 2004, helped modernize classroom buildings and facilities at Riverside Community College District’s campuses like MVC’s Welcome Center.
After years of construction and with a cost of $14 million, the Welcome Center provides comfortable spaces in Student Services like counseling, First-Year Experience, Puente and more.
Various staff members and peer leaders from diverse Student Services have helpful rationales on why MVC Lions should visit the Welcome Center.
For some, visiting the building for the first time instills a feeling of openness.
“I felt like it was modern — even to this day, it means a lot to me, and it has a new feel to it,” Edward F. Alvarez, director of First-Year Experience, said. “The second reaction was openness, and I feel that when things feel open, it just allows people to feel comfortable.”
The Welcome Center has not only created a cheerful ambiance for its visitors, but it has also relieved the stress from MVC students at the beginning of the fall term.
“Everybody was moving in, so there was a rush of students at the beginning,” Darlene Hernandez, student worker of Outreach, said. “I think it was easier for them to see the Welcome Center and not have to visit different departments and buildings and just be directed here.”
The Welcome Center is a one-stop shop that provides multiple services like assistance with the CLEARED4 System to help MVC students attend their classes.
“So students who come in, and if they need assistance with the CLEARED4 System, they’re not turned away,” Michael Paul Wong, dean of Student Services Counseling, said.
The services offered by the Welcome Center accommodate the needs of students like Hernandez.
“Since I work at the front desk, if I have any questions for Admissions and Records, Financial Aid or need to make a counseling appointment, I can just walk a few feet and get those services conveniently,” Hernandez said.
Due to Student Services being near each other, the Welcome Center has created opportunities to bring unity.
“We’re really excited about the opportunities that are coming forward with the opening of the Welcome Center,” Emma Pacheco, Puente coordinator, said. “I’m just excited that there’s space for Puente and students from other programs to collaborate in these spaces like this one to allow for growth and build a community.”
Services are still offered to MVC students who are not members of the various student programs offered inside the Welcome Center.
“What really is important about this center is that it’s not just for First-Year Experience students, but it’s also (available) for any other student who wants to use our space,” Alvarez said. “They’re (students) are more than welcome to come in and use our resources.”
The Welcome Center aims to promote awareness about the services available for MVC students.
“That is the main mission of the Welcome Center — being able to highlight programs like Puente,” Ramirez said. “Due to the pandemic, and with some things being online, students are just learning about us being in the Welcome Center.”
Another objective for the Welcome Center is raising awareness of the benefits MVC students gain from visiting Student Services.
“I think it’s crucial that people see that visibility of the programs that are there and see the support services that we could provide,” Pacheco said.
Each program has different specialties, but they all have one goal: providing a smooth college experience for MVC students. The Welcome Center strives to create a prosperous impression toward faculty and MVC students.
“We think that this (Welcome Center) is going to allow us to have a nice, first-time experience for many students,” Wong said. “You never get more than one chance to make a first impression, and we hope that this Welcome Center is going to allow us to make a difference to the new students that come to our college.”