El Camino College’s First-Year Experience Celebrates 20 Years
When Celeste Diaz joined El Camino College’s First Year Experience (FYE) program, she was a recent high school graduate looking for support and guidance. Completely new to higher education, she hoped to make the transition from high school to college as easy as possible. FYE was the right choice.
“My experience with the FYE program has been wonderful and rewarding,” said Diaz, a sociology major. “Joining FYE has allowed me to work with dedicated counselors who have helped me succeed in my academic career. Being a part of this program has also given me the opportunity to build lasting connections with my professors. I am applying to universities this fall and being a part of the FYE program has made me feel academically prepared and supported during this process.”
Diaz is one of thousands of students who have found success through El Camino’s First-Year Experience, an award-winning program that will celebrate its 20th anniversary next month. A vital El Camino program since 2001, FYE launched with just 40 students, and today more than 2,000 students are enrolled.
Designed to help students be successful in their first year of college life, FYE regularly boasts top graduation, transfer, and retention rates and provides a supportive environment full of academic and career services. Students have access to early registration, orientation, counselors, strategies for success in college, FYE faculty, field trips, and peer mentors.
“In addition to these significant built-in program benefits, FYE also connects students to a supportive team of faculty and staff who are dedicated to their success,” said El Camino College President Brenda Thames. “FYE students become part of an active learning community, one that comes with a set of peers who offer the chance to build friendships and expand the college experience beyond the classroom. We are proud that FYE has helped so many students grow as a college student through the past 20 years.”
Led by Darrell Thompson and Cynthia Mosqueda, who have been with FYE since it launched 20 years ago, the program offers an innovative approach to traditional academics through linking courses together by content, helping students develop study skills, and combining instructional methods to meet the specific needs of each student.
“Navigating college for the first time can be intimidating and overwhelming, especially if you are a first-generation college student,” Mosqueda said. “FYE provides a supportive environment for students to ask questions, seek advice, and create community. Students can also access a network of counselors, faculty, and staff who are truly invested in their success. The work we do is transformative, and it’s been a labor of love and partnership with academic affairs and student services to build this program.”
Signature programs within FYE, such as a summer bridge reading and writing academy, have helped countless students improve their skills before even beginning their first semester at El Camino.
Among other honors, FYE has received awards from the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges and the California Community College Chancellor’s Office for outstanding contributions toward student success, transfer, and retention. Dedicated FYE faculty and staff who care about students are at the heart of this program that offers meaningful learning opportunities to a motivated group of students focused on building a bright future. In 2012, Mosqueda received the First Year Advocate Award from the National Center for First-Year Experience and Students in Transition from the University of South Carolina for her work in helping first-year students transition into college life successfully.