First Year Mentoring Critical in Students Success

Michael J. Arvizu
El Vaquero Staff Writer

When Glendale Community College student Hagop Kassabian came to the United States from Lebanon in 1995, he had no idea what college life was like.

Though his parents had gone to college in his home country, they couldn’t help him with the different experiences he would encounter while furthering his education here.

Kassabian, studying in the library one evening, recounted the chain of events that led him to where he is now. At 38, he wants to pursue a career as a computer programmer, and is majoring in computer science. But, he says, if it wasn’t for the information that he received from his counselors and teachers before and after he got here, he doesn’t think that he would have been able to begin fulfilling his dreams.

Before attending GCC, Kassabian spent two years at the Adult Community Training Center taking non-credit courses. It wasn’t until his former counselor, Sarkis Ghazarian, now the director of the Transfer Center, visited ACTC that he found out that he couldn’t graduate just by taking non-credit courses and that he had to come to GCC and take credit courses in order to graduate. He was under the false impression that he could graduate just by attending ACTC.

When he first came to GCC, Kassabian spent most of his time studying in the administration building, not knowing that a quieter place existed on campus: the library. Ghazarian mentioned this to Kassabian one day when he saw him studying in the hallway of the Administration building. Not only did Kassabian learn about the library from Ghazarian, but he also found out about the various workshops that are offered throughout the year, and about the computer terminals that he could use to do research for his papers.

Ghazarian is the coordinator of the Transfer Center. The Transfer Center assists students in the transfer process by providing students access to counseling, advising, workshops, and transfer day and evening programs. It hosts university representatives who come on campus to advise students about opportunities at their respective university.

“It would have been difficult for me if I hadn’t gotten this type of help,” said Kassabian. “This help is making things easier.”

He continues to do most of his studying in the library. “At home you can’t learn properly,” said Kassabian. “There are many things that can distract you.”

Other services, such as Extended Opportunity Placement Services (EOPS), provide educationally and economically disadvantaged students with counseling, financial assistance, and career development.
First-year GCC students who are also first-generation college students often lack family and friends to tell them about the college experience. Since there is so much about college that many incoming students don’t know about, they must be able to count on some sort of guidance.