Skyline students meet second Vice President of Instruction candidate at forum

On Thursday, March 2, the second part of the Vice President of Instruction (VPI) finalist panel was hosted by Dr. Angelica Garcia, Vice President of Student Services, to introduce the potential candidate and allow Skyline students to voice their concerns.

The forum was small and intimate as everyone sat to form a circle. Mary Gutierrez, Dean of Language Arts, is one of the finalists and spoke on her experience at Skyline College and being a former student.

Gutierrez attended Virginia Tech and experienced a culture shock moving from high school to college and transitioning to a different state.

“It was a big transition,” Gutierrez said. “it was a culture shock and it was tough. I felt like what I had known in high school was really different when I got to college and I really struggled.”

Gutierrez relayed her message to students on how her experiences have shaped her goals in wanting to help them do better in college.

“A part of what I have wanted to do in my career is help with that,” Gutierrez said. “So that’s what I went into education, not because I have had a perfect educational experience but because I wanted to make sure that my students had a more perfect educational experience.”

Gutierrez also spoke about other experiences, as well focusing on her current position at Skyline.

She has been working at Skyline since 2012 and explained her role as the Dean of Language Arts. She provides faculty with professional development and support so that faculty members can be more effective with their classes and help them think outside the box.

Students were informed that Skyline will be implementing a new procedure for incoming students in the Fall semester. Incoming students will be able to get into their math and English classes based on their high school transcripts instead of using placements tests. Gutierrez told the group that the goal is to help students be successful in their transition to college.

She elaborated that one of her biggest challenges is keeping up with time management. Her focus is centered on making sure Skyline remains ambitious in becoming a better campus while serving the students and their needs.

One of the students asked how professors can better accommodate the students based on their busy schedules because she, as well as other students, feel there is an unfairness.

Gutierrez replied she has to ask the professors what fairness is. The question causes professors to re-evaluate how they perceive what’s fair when it comes to students.

Leandro Torres, an ASSC member, enjoyed the forum. “I thought that she made a good point about the plans that she has for the college,” Torres said.

Monica Holden, a Junior in the Cosmetology program, felt the same way as Torres about the forum.

“It was amazing for us to come together and to talk about what was going on and what we feel,” Holden said. “Being able to be heard, I think that’s important… I felt like I was heard and that I got my point across especially to be taken seriously.”

Gutierrez emphasized that students should not feel alone when experiencing the highs and lows of life. It can be helpful to talk about it because another student may have been in a similar situation.

“Everyone is going through hard times and sometimes you feel like it’s just you,” Gutierrez said. “You feel like when you look around the room, ’I’m the only one who’s struggling with these things.’ I can tell you everyone is going through these changes.”