Riverside Community College District’s Guided Pathways program to update student engagement and boost enrollment

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CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled Wendy McEwen’s name.

By Jennipher Vasquez

Riverside Community College District’s Guided Pathways plans have undergone changes to adhere with the district’s Student Equity and Achievement plan and improve communication with students.

The three district campuses are part of the California Guided Pathways project which aims to facilitate student success.

A presentation was given by guided pathways representatives at the RCCD Board of Trustees meeting May 3 to provide an update on where each campus stands with the project. 

RCC’s dean of institutional effectiveness, Wendy McEwen, said the project is centered around their engagement centers and student success teams that are made up of peer mentors, counselors, educational advisers and academic support.

“We have continued professional development on how to effectively utilize guided pathways data,” McEwen said. “(We) have developed communities of practice for creating a stronger sense of belonging for students.”  

The implementations are said to align with the 10-point plan drafted by San Diego State University to combat anti-Black and racist practices following the killing of George Floyd. It was originally introduced to RCC by Guided Pathways coordinator Monique Green.

McEwen said student ambassadors have been hired as part of the Student Voice Project to improve engagement with students. 

The Student Voice Project was funded by the Student Engagement Innovation Grant and institutional funds.

The Guided Pathways Student (GPS) Ambassadors interactively partake in community and leadership meetings. They also developed a project called, “Start Strong, Finish Strong: GRIT campaign,” which aims to keep students motivated whether they take in-person or online classes to stay on track with their educational goals. 

McEwen said Guided Pathways has restructured their engagement centers to establish clear career paths and create an “inescapable” student support plan that will lead students to reach their end goal.

“For that initial focus we are working with AB705 and dual enrollment outcomes early on in their pathway to make sure that they are set up for success early on,” she said. “We’re doing a lot of really good work and are excited about this next year.”

Board President Bill Hedrick commended the Guided Pathways coordinators for their efforts to keep students involved and motivated to continue pursuing their education. 

“I would like to commend all three colleges for your wonderful efforts,” Hedrick said. “I know we’ve had a challenging time through the pandemic but I have no doubt that with the efforts that you all are putting forth that you will lead the recovery of, not only our enrollment, but the success of our students.”

Trustee Figueroa said she is particularly excited about the representation of the various interests each college has to offer and the active effort to keep students engaged. 

“We just have amazing and creative people that I know are going to come up with a campaign with just the right wording,” said Figueroa. “(That) will really engage our population of students to know that there is someone there to support them along that journey.”

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