New Pledge Center Unveiled During Dedication Ceremony

Cypress College’s Pledge Center dedication took place September 19 to mark the opening of a new hub for counseling and academic support on the ground floor of the Student Center.

The ceremony welcomed the community to hear more about the Anaheim Union Education Pledge, also called the Pledge Program, which assists high school students on their paths into higher education. Members of legislative offices and leadership teams from the North Orange County Community College District and Anaheim Union High School District came out to mark the occasion as well.

Organizers took turns at the podium to thank supporters of the program, a partnership between higher education institutions, and the City of Anaheim to support students entering college. Cypress College President JoAnna Schilling, Ph.D., expressed gratitude and encouragement based on the success of the “historic collaboration.”

“There are 959 students in the inaugural class – great, engaged students,” Dr. Schilling said. “We want to keep them going in a focused manner, and expect this to grow bigger every year.”

She especially credited the initiative’s achievements to the “fabulous team” of Counseling Dean Dr. Paul de Dios and Interim Student Success & Support Programs Director Gisela Verduzco. Verduzco told the audience that the Pledge Program, part of the Charger Experience, creates opportunities for students in Cypress’ own backyard.

“We have to start with our own communities,” she said. “Students are being supported with their own place they can call home.”

NOCCCD Chancellor Dr. Cheryl Marshall took to the podium and called the opening of the Pledge Center a dream come true. Next, Dr. Schilling and Verduzco presented a baton to Mike Matsuda, superintendent of AUHSD, who called it symbolic of the meaningful partnership that created and supports the Pledge Program.

The ceremony also offered a chance to thank donors. Catherine Sorensen and the Disneyland Resort, represented by Elva Rubalcava, were recognized by Dr. Schilling for their generosity and given plaques to commemorate their participation.

Government officials in attendance included Cypress Mayor John Peat, Mayor Pro Tem Stacy Berry, Clayton Heard of U. S. Congressman Alan Lowenthal’s office, Stephanie Hu of State Senator Ling Ling Chang’s office, Christopher Aguilera of California Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva’s office, and Tim Whitacre of Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel’s office.

Pledge Program students joined organizers in pulling the curtain for the big reveal of the center, located at the northern end of the Student Center’s  first level. Attendees were invited to a reception following the event.