Student Equity & Achievement: GCC Levels the Playing Field for Marginalized Students

Student Equity Program manager and counselor discuss the program and its goals


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Banner displaying the logos of Student Equity’s learning communities.

Student Equity is Glendale Community College’s aid program for students who are Black, Hispanic or former foster youth. Student Equity, established in 2016,  serves just shy of 400 Vaqueros in its three learning communities: Black Scholars, La Communidad and Guardian Scholars. Its mission is to empower the achievement of these often-marginalized students so that traditionally underrepresented and disproportionately impacted groups have equitable opportunities to thrive in college.

Student Equity’s connection with its students relies on its counselors, Johanna Quintanilla, Jamie Sanchez, Orlando Roybal, Alexandra Evans and Kevin Dimatulac. Quintanilla, one of Equity’s longest-serving counselors, shared her thoughts on the program as well as her and her colleagues’ future goals for GCC.

Starting off as a general counselor, but moving on to Student Equity like many of the other counselors, Quintanilla had a drive to support the students from the college’s equity program because she understood that marginalized students struggle to feel confident in a school environment where the majority of the population does not look like them or share their experiences. Student Equity is able to provide meal vouchers, TAP cards, parking permits and book vouchers. Within remote learning, it offers gift cards and funds for the college’s bookstore. 

Students are required to complete at least one counseling session per Fall or Spring semester, but the program is able to offer counseling tailored to the individual student without the long wait times in the general counseling center. Quintanilla cited her counseling appointments as her favorite part of her job, because these sessions allow her to get to know the students and their diverse perspectives and situations, so she can understand how to further support them. 

Students are also required to attend one social event hosted by Student Equity. This encourages students to meet and make new friends in their community. Finally, the program offers free or low-cost university trips for transfer students, some of which tour historically Black colleges or universities. Student Equity frequently collaborates with other aid programs at GCC. The Multicultural and Community Engagement Center is one example, and with the help of Dimatulac, one of Equity’s counselors, it provides expansive Cultural Diversity programming. Its counselors have sponsored school clubs, with Dimatulac advising Phamilya for Filipinx culture and awareness, and Alexandra Evans advising the Black Student Union, whose efforts were responsible for initiating the school’s new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee. Quintanilla is also able to plan workshops and oversee committees on campus dedicated to reforming the school, providing more equity opportunities and bolstering the strength of their communities. 

 “Student Equity and Achievement supports an array of programs and services that are aimed at directly serving students. A few examples include: supporting faculty development efforts, creating opportunities for adjunct mentoring and support, helping enhance our core matriculation services in both the credit and noncredit campuses, offering Summer Bridge for incoming students, helping the math, English and Credit ESL divisions with AB705 (a California law which prevents students from placing into remedial English or Math courses), and so much more.” said Equity’s program manager, Yeranui Barsegyan.

Barsegyan has been focused on reaching as many students as possible, but in order for the program to gain necessary funding, the college needs to see continued demand for its support. Orlando Roybal said, “We are working on improving Student Equity’s recruitment. We want students to know about our programs once they begin at GCC not in their last semester. We also want to focus on retaining our students, especially our Guardian Scholars.

“One of the biggest changes I see in Equity students and the one I am most proud of is their sense of hope and possibility. Student Equity shows our students that they are capable of anything.” Roybal said

“Students are always paying it forward by helping other students, by supporting us to improve our services, and giving us positive encouragement to keep going forward,” Barsegyan said.


Manifa Baghomian can be reached at [email protected]

Ana Pineda-Gonzalez can be reached at [email protected]