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Cascade’s resource centers share efficiencies and energy in new offices
Photos and Story by Katherine Miller
January 21, 2015
By Katherine Miller
Cascade Campus’ three student resource centers are now located in their new home on the third floor of the new Student Union, built by funds from the 2008 voter-approved bond. It is the first time in the campus’ history that the centers have been under the same roof, and, according to Rebecca Ocken, bond project manager at Cascade, the move will help the centers work together more efficiently. Yet each center has a unique mission and offers a broad array of services. Here’s a look at all three:
Coordinator: Debbie Stone has served as coordinator of the center for eight years; prior to that she was assistant coordinator. She came to PCC 15 years ago from Mount Hood Community College. She has a bachelor’s degree in literature from Reed College, and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute.
The center’s mission: “To provide a central location for services that support the academic achievement of women and promote a campus community that is safe, inclusive, and equitable. Our goal is to increase access to education for women, improve the retention of women students at the college, and encourage women’s leadership development.”
How it helps: The center offers a wide range of groups, clubs and programs, including the Women’s Leadership Program; Black Women’s Empowerment League; and the Project Independence Program, which helps women who are returning to school after a prolonged absence. The center provides some services, such as tutoring, to men too. Center resources include:
- Personalized help entering college
- A place to connect with other students
- Crisis intervention and problem solving
- Peer advocacy
- Limited academic advising
- Community and campus referrals
- Childcare information and referral
- Workshops on topics of current interest
- Student success workshops
- Scholarship and financial aid information
- Lounge area
- Lending library
We’ve come a long way, baby. Or have we?: Stone says the work that the Women’s Resource Center does is still as relevant as ever. “Portland is one of the top centers for sex trafficking,” she says. “What we talk to women students most about when we first meet them is domestic violence and rape. Many times they’ve dropped out of school because of rape.”
Hours: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Wednesday and Friday 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
Location: Student Union, Room 301
Contact info: 971-722-5249
Who: Multicultural Center
Coordinator: The Multicultural Center is a new program at Cascade, and was built by Luke Givens, who serves as coordinator. Prior to coming to Cascade in October 2014, Givens was the assistant coordinator for the Rock Creek Multicultural Center. He received his bachelor’s degree in sociology with a concentration in criminology and social control from Appalachian State University, and a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Gonzaga University.
The center’s mission: “To support the recruitment, retention, and holistic (academic, leadership, professional) success of students of color and to promote diversity, inclusion, and equity campus and district wide.”
How it helps: The center provides a safe, centrally located space that nurtures learning and the achievement of personal and educational goals through cultural enrichment, peer tutoring, mentoring, and leadership activities on campus. Resources include:
- Multicultural Student Leadership Program
- African-American Men’s Scholars Program
- LSAMP (Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation)
- Volunteer opportunities
- Scholarship information
- Peer tutoring
- Internship information
- Workshops on identity and diversity, time management, study skills, and financial literacy
- Campus visits for four-year colleges and universities
Hands Up, Don’t Shoot: The students we serve are more diverse than they’ve ever been. It’s a reflection of the changing demographics in society and although the demographics have changed, the institutional barriers that affect student success haven’t. The Mike Brown shooting and Eric Garner verdict was announced prior to the opening of our center. Typically in a situation like this, the Multicultural Center would serve as the focal point for students to gather, engage in critical dialogue, and receive emotional support if needed. Given that the space itself didn’t exist, we were limited in how we were able to respond, although we worked through the Diversity Council to host a P.D.A.R (Purposeful Dialogues about Race).
Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Thursday
Location: Student Union, Room 302
Contact info: 971-722-5795; firstname.lastname@example.org
Coordinator: Tracey Garman, international student advisor, has worked at PCC since 2003, beginning with International Education in 2008. Before coming to PCC she studied at Clark Community College in Vancouver, Wash., then transferred to Washington State University, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in human development.
The office’s mission: “We serve as the primary administrative office for international initiatives on campus. We strive to further the College’s goal of preparing students to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world.”
How it helps: The office supports international student recruitment and admissions, and helps students apply to the Intensive English program and prepare for their arrival at PCC. For current students, the center helps with orientation, housing, activities, health insurance, banking, transportation, scholarship opportunities and more. Students who want to practice their English skills are invited to attend Talk Time Café, for free coffee, cookies and conversation.
The center also promotes PCC faculty and staff training through study abroad opportunities, professional development workshops and other international activities.
For Garman, the new space in Student Union isn’t just bigger and aesthetically appealing. “It sends the message to international students that they are valued and have a home at PCC. This new roomier, more flexible space will allow the Office of International Education to offer increased programming on-site versus having to worry whether there is a classroom available.
“Our new office space provides a place for two student use computers, so students can use time between classes to search for jobs on campus, apply for scholarships, do homework, etc. It gives them a friendly place at Cascade to land every day, a place they can call home, a place where they know they will find staff that understand their unique needs, and a place where they can find other international students to hang out with.
“With our office in such close proximity to student-based programs, we hope to encourage more student involvement while increasing their feeling of connection to the campus. This will help international students make the most of their college experience.”
The power of cultural exchange: Linda Blanchette, acting director of International Education at PCC, adds her thoughts on the importance of the office’s work. “One of the most powerful and effective routes to peaceful co-existence is through cultural exchange. When international students come here they learn about the real United States and real Americans — not the ones they see in the movies and in the news. Friendships are forged. Lives are changed. Our local students learn about the world from our international students and international students learn about us. Both sides learn to not only understand and tolerate difference, but to appreciate it and to embrace the tremendous value of diversity in everything.”
Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday
Location: Student Union, Room 308
Contact info: 971-722-5670, Intled.email@example.com