Culture & Language International Film Festival Underway at Southwestern College

CHULA VISTA – A group of Southwestern College World Language instructors have taken it upon themselves to produce one of the region’s oldest international film festivals, a quaint, largely private affair geared for students studying a foreign language.

The Southwestern College Culture & Language International Film Festival began 14 years ago as a learning tool, a role it continues to play today.

“These films provide rich themes for our students to understand and expand their knowledge of other cultures,” said Spanish Professor Dinorah Guadiana-Costa. “It’s also important for them to be exposed to a foreign language that is not coming from a textbook and is being spoken at a faster pace.”

The World Languages Department offers courses in Filipino, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese and Portuguese, and the festival includes at least one film in one of those languages.

This year’s festival began Oct. 13 and continues through Oct. 29 at Southwestern College. Titles include “La Mafia Uccide Solo d’Estate,” an original crime comedy that retraces crucial moments in the history of the most famous crime organization; “Bushi no Ichibun,” a Japanese film that looks at the relationship between a young blind samurai and his wife; and “Pagpag: Siyam Na Buhay,” a Filipino horror and suspense film about the spirit of a dead man that hunts down nine people after they ignored some superstitions during his wake.

“A lot of our students have not seen a foreign film before,” Guadiana-Costa said. We started out with Spanish films, but we expanded the offerings to include films in all of the languages we teach.”

Guadiana-Costa works with other instructors at Southwestern College’s World Languages Department to find and review films fit for screening, organizing the event and buying food and other refreshments.

“Right now, we’re eight women who make this happen, running to Costco to get the drinks and making sure everything is in order,” Guadiana-Costa said.

Students are asked to write about a film in the language they are studying, even if only briefly. They also must write a two-page analysis of the movie in English.

Students are welcome to bring in a guest or two to view the film, but the festival does not cater to large, Public audiences.

“It has the potential for expansion as a film festival, but we’re not at that point yet,” Guadiana-Costa said. “Right now, it’s just a labor of love.”

For a full list of the movies and their trailers, click here.

Southwestern College to host 2014 CIF Football Championships at DeVore Stadium

Southwestern College has reached an agreement with the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) to host three days of championship football games this winter in the newly renovated DeVore Stadium on the Southwestern College Chula Vista Campus.

Southwestern College is honored to have solidified a partnership with the CIF that will place six CIF Football Championship games in DeVore Stadium and will give us the opportunity to highlight sports to our South Bay community.

Traditionally held at Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley, these CIF Championship games will move to the new state-of-the-art facility that provides all the amenities needed to host such a prestigious event.

“We’re excited to have the type of venue and opportunity for the CIF championship games to have a great experience,” said Terry Davis, Southwestern College Athletic Director and Dean of the School of Health, Exercise Science, Athletics and Applied Technology.

This is the very first partnership between Southwestern College and the CIF. One game will be played on Friday, November 28, two games on Friday, December 5, and three games on Saturday, December 6.

The agreement pays Southwestern College $53,000 to host the games and will be on the November 12 Governing Board Meeting agenda for approval.

Other notes: DeVore Stadium’s recent renovations are part of the $389 Million Proposition R Bond passed in 2008. 

DeVore Stadium aerial view

Southwest Regional Apprenticeship Program Graduates its First Class

CHULA VISTA – Hard work and determination paid off for 20 Southwestern College students who became graduates of the college’s Southwest Regional Apprenticeship Program’s (SWRAP) inaugural class.

Created in 2010 and patterned after a similar program at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, SWRAP was created to train and employ future experts in ship repair and maintenance. Students earned their journey worker certificates from the Department of Navy and Department of Labor and also earned a certificate of proficiency in leadership and supervision from Southwestern College.

SWRAP has been a huge success, beating all other California apprenticeship programs academically with a total graduate Grade Point Average of 3.651.

Speaking to the graduates, Rear Admiral Mark Whitney, deputy commander of logistics, maintenance and industrial operations for Naval Sea Systems command, recalls making a promise when the school first opened.

"I remember helping to cut the ribbon four years ago and at the time I made a promise I would come back in four years and speak at your graduation," said Whitney. "Remember, you didn’t get here by yourselves. It took the support of your friends, family and instructors along with your hard work and dedication to help get you here tonight."

Puget Sound Apprenticeship Program Administrator Bryan Watland said many of the instructors in the program were once apprentices themselves. Their expertise helped build the program over the last four years, Watland said. These new graduates have a bright future, he said, and he hoped they would follow in their instructors’ footsteps to help train the next generation.

Pipefitter Robert Jackson said the apprenticeship was academically intensive and the application process was rigorous.

“It was quite a challenge to get (into the program),” Jackson Said. “Me and the five guys I was hired with beat out over 1,000 applicants.”

Calvin Smith, the Southwest Regional Maintenance Center apprenticeship manager, said the graduates proved their application process ensured the program had the best of the best.

“We had extensive interviews, we had to weed out the people we felt wouldn’t work in the program,” he said. “Obviously we did a good job because we have retained almost everyone.”

The program began with 24 students four years ago and graduated 20 this month.

Jimmy Mack , who graduated as a pipefitter, said he applied for the apprenticeship during a break from school four years ago. After four years of training and working in the Navy he is sometimes amazed by the work they do.

“We don’t think our job is big,” Mack said. “But when people put it into perspective, we maintain a war machine. It’s important.”

Machine shop instructor Bill Sipchen said he was proud of all the graduates, and said this graduation was a fitting way to honor them.

“It’s about them,” he said. “It’s about their ability to come in knowing nothing then to watch them grow within the trade.”

Sipchen said his experience working in the field he teaches gave him an edge when connecting with students.

“Before I became a trade instructor I worked at one of the shops at the Southwestern Regional Maintenance Center,” he said. “I got to see (the job) from the other side of the classroom before teaching. It was kind of a unique situation.”

Machinery Instructor Ron Teske said the bonds created with the apprentices make the graduation all the more personal.

“It starts out the first year, you get to know them,” Teske said. “It’s exciting to see something come to fruition and to have them get all the way through.”

Pipefitter Mtume Salaam was chosen by his class to speak on their behalf at the graduation. Salaam said the kinship formed between class members changed everyone for the better.

“The people graduating right here got me though this program,” he said. “We were selected because someone else saw our potential, and us standing here today proves they were right.”

“I can’t tell you how grateful I am for this apprenticeship,” Salaam said.

At the graduation, Salaam was given the scholastic achievement award by Southwestern College Superintendent/President Dr. Melinda Nish for his 3.98 GPA throughout the apprenticeship.

Marine Machinery Mechanic Deborah Fulbright, the only female graduate of the program, won the Apprentice of the Year award. Jackson said Fulbright was one of the most academically gifted graduates, and Master of Ceremonies Lori Frey said Fulbright had an “insatiable thirst” for learning during the apprenticeship.

Deborah Fulbright, Southwest Regional Apprenticeship Program Graduate
PHOTO: Deborah: Marine Machinery Mechanic Deborah Fulbright (center) accepts her Apprentice of the Year award. Fulbright was the only graduating female in Southwestern College’s Southwest Regional Apprenticeship Program’s (SWRAP) inaugural class of 2014.

“Wading in is not Deborah’s style,” said Frey. “She dives headfirst.”

Fulbright said she couldn’t believe she was the Apprentice of the Year and said that the apprenticeship was life changing.

“To be able to complete this program and learn a trade I never knew before, it’s just a great experience,” she said.

Fulbright said she didn’t let being the one woman in the class hold her back.

“I had to prove something to myself,” she said. “I had to show I could be just as good as the guys.”

An open letter to Bonita Vista High Parents, Players and Community

SWC Logo  Sweetwater Union High School District Logo

September 17, 2014

Dear Bonita Vista High Parents, Players and Community,

We want to apologize to each of you in attendance Friday at the Barons’ first home game at Southwestern College’s newly renovated DeVore Stadium.

The Southwestern Community College District and the Sweetwater Union High School District value the long-term relationship we have had, and specifically the Southwestern College relationship with Bonita Vista High School. That was not apparent for the Barons’ first football game at DeVore Stadium. As hosts, we could have done better. We accept responsibility, and want to reassure you that a number of steps are being taken to ensure a quality experience for fans, players and school community.

Southwestern College is excited and proud of our new athletic facilities. We know the Bonita Vista High School community is as well. In preparing for bringing the Barons back home, Southwestern negotiated a facility use agreement and permit with the Sweetwater District that addressed Bonita Vista High’s needs and also aligned with Southwestern College’s new Civic Center Facilities Leasing Policy. After the Barons’ first game, however, it was obvious that the terms of the facility use agreement and permit were not satisfactory.

Both Southwestern and Sweetwater have gone back to the drawing board to create workable solutions for this season while our respective institutions finish negotiating an amendment to the Joint Powers Authority Agreement we have had since 1970 and amended in 1976 for DeVore Stadium.

For the remainder of the Barons’ football season:

  • The men’s and women’s soccer lockers rooms on the ground floor of the new fieldhouse will be available for the Barons and their visiting teams;
  • Referees may use the staff locker room on the 4th floor of the fieldhouse;
  • In advance of each game, Bonita Vista High School trainers will coordinate with Southwestern College trainers to make arrangements for ice and other needs;
  • Bonita Vista High will be able to use the Southwestern College ticket office, but not the college’s ticketing equipment (the same arrangement SWC had when playing at Olympian High School);
  • Bonita Vista High will reimburse Southwestern College for cleaning expenses, supplies and bathroom supplies (the same arrangement SWC had when playing at Olympian High School);
  • Waiving of the college’s requirement of exclusive concession sales to allow Bonita Vista High School fundraising food concessions within the public breezeways.

We acknowledge and sincerely appreciate that community members have made significant financial contributions to both our school districts to improve classrooms and facilities for all of our students. This is our community and we are proud to serve you.


Dr. Steven Crow Signature Thomas Calhoun Signature

Dr. Steven Crow
Vice President for Business and Financial Affairs
Southwestern Community College District

Thomas Calhoun
Chief Facilities Executive
Sweetwater Union High School District

Cc: Southwestern Community College District Governing Board
      Sweetwater Union High School District Board of Trustees
      Dr. Melinda Nish
      Dr. Tim Glover

Southwestern set to open ‘field of dreams’

By Bill Dickens, UT San Diego

Chula Vista — Southwestern College’s football program is in a class by itself. And it has nothing to do with making tackles and throwing passes.

The Jaguars will play in the school’s rebuilt Chet DeVore Stadium for the first time when they host Grossmont at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Jaguars coach Ed Carberry calls the new facility a “field of dreams.”

Click here to read the full story


Setting our Own Completion Rate Goals

Southwestern College is a pacesetter. Long before Chancellor Brice Harris announced his efforts to improve the student completion rate, we were looking at ways to improve student achievement. We created stretch goals for ourselves and spent a year listening to all our stakeholders to determine three research-based ways to get there.

We have been implementing those three strategies: 1) Electronic Student Educational Planning, 2) Analyze Completion Rates by Programs and 3) First-Year Experience. We accomplished the electronic SEP and the first-year experience pilot this year and we have learned ways to augment both efforts. And now we have a statewide goal in which to measure our growth.

As I outlined in my opening day presentation, the chancellor has set an annual growth goal of 2.5%. If our rate of change was 2.5% each year until 2025, we would stand at a 57% completion rate, while the state would be 62.8%.

So at what rate of change do we need to improve each year to not only reach the state average, but surpass it? Our Office of Institutional Effectiveness ran several different scenarios and calculated that we would need a rate of change increase of 3.5%

Annual Growth in Completions

At 3.5% annually, our students would achieve a 63.5% completion rate. What does that mean in terms of completers? Assuming the size of our student cohort remains the same, 62 additional students from the cohort would need to earn an associate’s degree, a certificate, transfer to a four-year institution or achieve transfer status. It’s an ambitious goal, but I believe it’s doable. Here’s an illustration of the number of completers we have projected over the next 10 years.

Annual Growth in Completions

Giving Us Your Ideas

The best ideas for improving Southwestern College and helping our students achieve their educational goals—including completion—come from YOU. Many of you have daily interaction with our students, and all of you are the experts in what you do. That’s why we want to hear your suggestions for improving everything we do as a college community.

Last week I had my first coffee chat and open hours and the Governing Board held the first listening tour visit. All the opportunities have given us a first-hand look—from your perspective—of what’s working at Southwestern and what challenges we face. I’ve gotten my list of ideas and Trustees Nora Vargas and Norma Hernandez received valuable feedback on the budgetary items that are most important.

Don’t worry if you missed this first round, however. We have time set aside each month for these activities. For a full list of the Governing Board Listening Tour, go to My next coffee chat is Sept. 22 and open hours are Sept. 26. To sign up for open hours, go to

Keep those good ideas coming!

Listening to your ideas over coffee
Listening to your ideas over coffee.  MESA students tell of their successes
  MESA students tell of their successes.

Pencils & Pixels Art Exhibit Merges Video Game Art and Old-School Drawings

CHULA VISTA – The worlds of video-game art and old-school drawing merge in the exhibition Pencils & Pixels on display at Southwestern Community College’s art gallery from Sept. 4 to Oct. 9, 2014.

The gallery’s exhibition space will be divided into two sections: The show’s digital portion will showcase Sony Computer Entertainment with aninteractive look into the genesis of a video game. Sony Computer Entertainment’s behind-the-scenes look will provide viewers with how ideas are developed from concept art to the completed game. In sharp contrast to the show’s digital art, Pencils & Pixels also features hand-drawn storyboards and drawings by skilled artists excelling in visual narratives for film and comics.  

The intent of Pencils & Pixels is to spotlight the common ground where state-of-the-art motion capture imagery of video-game technology overlaps with the back-to-basics drawing skills of visual storytellers armed with pencils, pens, charcoal and paper. Both are fueled by explosive ideas waiting to jump start the imagination.

Opening date: Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014
Closing date: Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014
Opening reception: Thursday, September 4, 11am, with an artist talk at noon
Evening reception: Thursday, September 4, 5:30 – 8:30 pm

Southwestern College Art Gallery
900 Otay Lakes Road
Chula Vista, CA 91910

Pencils & Pixels Art Exhibit Merges Video Game Art and Old-School Drawings

Southwestern College Awarded $2.475 Million Federal Grant

Funding will boost completion rates for Latino students

CHULA VISTA –  A five-year effort to increase completion rates for Latinos and language learners at Southwestern College has been given a financial boost.

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded the college $2,475,000 over five years for its Puertas al Futuro (Doorways to the Future) grant application. Funding will be used to create a first-year experience where cohorts of freshmen will work with a College Success Team and peer mentors to strengthen their study skills and build a learning community. The funding will also be used to shorten the time students spend in basic skills. Programming begins Oct. 1, 2014.

“Puertas al Futuro helps us implement best practices that focus on counseling support, peer mentoring, learning communities and new instructional strategies,” said Dr. Melinda Nish, superintendent/president of Southwestern College. “Our goal is to streamline the pathways for students to complete their educational goals.”

As a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Southwestern College serves more than 10,000 Latino students each fall. Funding will allow the college to utilize a new approach to teaching mathematics and provide specialized tutoring in English/writing, English as a Second Language, math and reading. It will create College Success Teams that will be assigned to students to help them navigate and access resources during college. Funding also includes an outreach component to give Spanish-speaking parents the tools needed to support their college students.

Parking lots A and J are set to re-open after installation of solar arrays

The installation of the largest single solar installation project in SDG&E’s service area is nearing completion at Southwestern College’s Chula Vista campus.

Beginning Monday, Aug. 18, students, faculty and staff will have covered parking in lots A and J. By Aug. 22, lots B and C will reopen. The final two lots with solar array installation—F and G—will reopen Sept. 19.

In mid March the lots were fenced off and construction crews rolled in to install state-of-the-art solar arays as part of the $389 million Proposition R bond measure to improve college facilities.

The solar panels will save the college an estimated $8 million over the next 20 years.

Parking lot J will be completed just in time for the grand opening of the new DeVore Stadium and Fieldhouse Classroom Building to be held on Friday, August 15. A grand opening celebration for the community is scheduled for 3:30-5 p.m.

Reminder to students - Parking permits will be required beginning Monday, August 25. You can purchase your parking permit through WebAdvisor. Discount parking permits for Lot O are also on sale.

Below is a map of the parking lot closures and opening dates.

Map of parking lot re-openings from solar panel instillation

Southwestern students to see new improvements on campus this fall

By Joe Little, ABC 10 News

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - This fall, students at Southwestern College will notice some major changes at the campus.

"We’ve been waiting for many years to have an opportunity to make some phenomenal changes for the college," said Terry Davis, Dean of the School of Health and the college’s Athletic Director.

Some of those changes had been decades in the making, with the biggest change being a four-story, $23 million Health, Exercise Science, and Athletics building in DeVore Stadium.

Click here to read the full story.