Student Leadership Academy voices advocacy

Dr.+Greg+Gillespie+%28center%29%2C+Chancellor+of+the+Ventura+County+Community+College+District%2C+poses+for+a+goofy+group+photo+with+the+Associated+Students+from+the+Moorpark%2C+Oxnard%2C+and+Ventura+campuses%2C+on+Friday%2C+Aug.+23%2C+in+Camarillo%2C+Calif.+Gillespie+was+chosen+to+be+chancellor+by+the+Board+of+Trustees+in+2017.+Photo+credit%3A+Evan+Reinhardt
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Student Leadership Academy voices advocacy

Dr. Greg Gillespie (center), Chancellor of the Ventura County Community College District, poses for a goofy group photo with the Associated Students from the Moorpark, Oxnard, and Ventura campuses, on Friday, Aug. 23, in Camarillo, Calif. Gillespie was chosen to be chancellor by the Board of Trustees in 2017. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

Dr. Greg Gillespie (center), Chancellor of the Ventura County Community College District, poses for a goofy group photo with the Associated Students from the Moorpark, Oxnard, and Ventura campuses, on Friday, Aug. 23, in Camarillo, Calif. Gillespie was chosen to be chancellor by the Board of Trustees in 2017. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

Dr. Greg Gillespie (center), Chancellor of the Ventura County Community College District, poses for a goofy group photo with the Associated Students from the Moorpark, Oxnard, and Ventura campuses, on Friday, Aug. 23, in Camarillo, Calif. Gillespie was chosen to be chancellor by the Board of Trustees in 2017. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

Dr. Greg Gillespie (center), Chancellor of the Ventura County Community College District, poses for a goofy group photo with the Associated Students from the Moorpark, Oxnard, and Ventura campuses, on Friday, Aug. 23, in Camarillo, Calif. Gillespie was chosen to be chancellor by the Board of Trustees in 2017. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

By Whitney Bussell

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Associated Students of Moorpark College along with Oxnard and Ventura College gathered with Ventura County Community College District leaders on Friday, August 23 for the second annual Student Leadership Academy.

The theme of this year’s Student Leadership Academy was advocacy along with other topics including student health, equity and inclusion. Students were asked to place a red dot on charts upon arriving, these charts described various topics of concern. Mental Health was the top priority for the majority of students in attendance.

College Health Coordinators from all three colleges were present to speak with students regarding the upcoming district health survey. This will be the first time a districtwide health survey has been available to all three colleges; Ventura College has never had the funding available to do so according to Mary Jones, Ventura College Health Center Coordinator.

A panel was assembled of four well equipped individuals, all with experience on how advocacy can be used to be a successful leader. Panel members included Larry Buckley, VCCCD Vice Chancellor Institutional Effectiveness; Jessica Martinez, VCCCD Student Trustee; James Schuelke, MC Director of Institutional Advancement; and Trevor Zierhut, Government Relations Consultant.

Panel members were asked questions brought forth by the Associated Students of all three colleges. When questioned what to do in a situation where students are faced with people of conflicting views, Schuelke expressed some practical advice.

“Anticipate objections people may have to your views beforehand… Put yourself in the shoes of the other person and see common ground,” stated Schuelke.

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Another question posed was how to handle an intimidating room full of people. Vice Chancellor Buckley lightened the mood when expressing that “The only people there to intimidate you are the secret service, that’s their job,”

Student Trustee Martinez also gave uplifting advice remarking that professors, leaders and colleagues are not there to intimidate, but to encourage and promote the success of all students.

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Jessica Martinez, VCCCD Student Trustee, converses with various student leaders during the second annual Student Leadership Academy on Friday, Aug. 23, at the district office in Camarillo, Calif. As a trustee, Martinez represents the community college students of Ventura County. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

Student leadership was praised and encouraged by VCCCD Trustee Josh Chancer as he expressed great pride within students who have chosen the path of leadership in their respective communities.

Chancer stated that his goal as board trustee is to ensure that “That we are constantly changing and adapting to your needs,”

Associated Students are supported by Student Activities Advisors Kristen Robinson of Moorpark College, Gabriela Rodriguez of Oxnard College and Libby Fatta of Ventura College. Student activities advisors carry the role of guiding elected student leaders within the Associated Students. Robinson, Rodriguez and Fatta carry a great deal of enthusiasm and pride in guiding the relationship between student leadership and administration, as expressed by Board Trustee Bernando Perez.

Jessica Espitia, a second year student at Oxnard College voiced her goals in regards to what she wants in the community college experience.

Espitia expressed that she desires “to create that engagement and sense of community that many people get from a four year college.”

The Associated Students of the VCCCD are given the opportunity to act as a voice for their collective student bodies. They are able to enact changes necessary to a broad demographic of students.

Chancellor Greg Gillespie expressed his plans for advocacy as chancellor as well by, “implementing a guided pathway and other new initiatives to support our students.” A matter that the district has made a top priority.

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Dr. Greg Gillespe, Chancellor of the Ventura County Community College District, chats with some associated student members during the Student Leadership meeting on Friday, Aug. 3, at the district office in Camarillo, Calif. The associated students from the Moorpark, Oxnard and Ventura campuses met to discuss advocacy tactics. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

The Student Leadership Academy aims to continue an inclusive relationship between district leaders and its students, ensuring the best community college experience.

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