Cypress College President to Participate in Event Modeled after ‘Dancing with the Stars’ to Raise Money for Homelessness, Food Insecurity in Orange County Award

For Immediate Release

September 26, 2022

Contact: Marc Posner

(714) 484-7006


(Cypress, Calif.) – It might be easy to overlook the challenges of affordability in Orange County, a region known for its affluence, opulent coastal homes, and television series glorifying the idyllic living of the wealthy residents. Cypress College President JoAnna Schilling, Ph.D. admits that even she was stunned when she learned of the economic challenges facing many of her students.

In 2018, Cypress surveyed students and found that of the 1,200 students who responded, 55 percent said they had experienced food and housing insecurity, and 13 percent had been homeless in the past year alone. That was, of course, before the COVID-19 pandemic, which disproportionally impacted communities already facing economic hardship.

“This was a wake-up call for us,” Dr. Schilling said. “Since that time, we have been dedicated to addressing food and housing insecurity of our students and community. Gone are the days when we joke about all college students having a diet made up of cheap food alternatives. Going without meals is a reality for many of Cypress’ students and one we wanted to address.”

Pathways of Hope, an Orange County-based nonprofit addressing homelessness, is helping Cypress to address those needs. The organization supplements Cypress’ food pantry and provides resources for students experiencing housing insecurity.

Schilling called Pathways of Hope “a wonderful organization,” and when they called to ask her to participate in “Look Who’s Dancing,” their annual benefit event, she leapt at the chance.

There was only one problem – the event was a “Dancing with the Stars” type affair, and Schilling never considered herself much of a dancer. Still, she said, she wanted to help Pathways of Hope however she could and signed up for dancing lessons with a coach.

“We see basic needs support as essential to ensure our students can stay in school and complete their education,” Schilling said. “Hunger and homelessness are real and growing problems even in affluent Orange County; in fact, these challenges are even more critical here because housing affordability has become almost unattainable in the county for too many students who are trying to juggle the demands of getting an education, working to support themselves and their families, and living close to the campus.”

Cypress student dancers will also perform during the event, choreographed by Dance faculty member Maha Afra.

Pathways of Hope Executive Director David Gillanders said the event specifically helps to fund food pantries and services the agency operates across the North Orange County Community College District (NOCCCD) campuses, including the one at Cypress.

“Pathways of Hope’s Look Who’s Dancing event helps our agency raise critical funding to prevent and end hunger and homelessness for our community members and neighbors in North Orange County,” Gillanders said. “We are beyond grateful for Cypress College’s support of this fundraiser and we cannot wait to see Dr. Schilling take the stage and dance her heart out to make a difference in our community!”

Founded in 1975 as Fullerton Interfaith Emergency Services (FIES), the organization rebranded to Pathways of Hope in 2012. The agency operates three shelters and offers rapid re-housing services, permanent supportive housing, homeless prevention services, and housing services for chronically homeless individuals.

Look Who’s Dancing will be held in the Fullerton College’s Campus Theatre on October 22 at 7 p.m. Schilling will be dancing, along with singer Nick Preston, job coach Lissa LaMonte, and Fullerton College Veterans Resource Center Coordinator Marwin Luminarias. Tickets are $20 for a child and $50 for an adult ticket and can be purchased on the Pathways of Hope website. Sponsorships are also available, and donations are welcomed for those who cannot attend. Masks are required for those attending the event.

To purchase a ticket and support Dr. JoAnna Schilling, visit Tickets, sponsorships and donations can be made by check by contacting Shari at or (714) 680-3691 ext. 2207 to confirm your purchase or gift. Please make checks to “Pathways of Hope” and mail them to PO Box 6326, Fullerton, CA 92834, with “JoAnna” in the check memo.

To learn more about Pathways of Hope, visit

About Cypress College:

Cypress College offers students a pathway to their future in an environment in which employees commit to joining students on their educational journey. The college’s half-million-plus alumni include actors, athletes, doctors, executives, mechanics, nurses, and teachers. For some, Cypress College is the ticket into their university of choice, and for others, it provides essential training for a prosperous career. Just one Cypress College class is often all it takes to provide cutting- edge skills that lead to a promotion or a new job.

Cypress College’s 16,000 students and the highly qualified teaching faculty are proud of the many excellent academic and vocational programs. Cypress College provides a pathway for each of our students, offering 56 university-transfer majors, 174 career-certificate programs, and degrees in 98 areas of study. The college’s traditional semesters begin in January and August, while short-term courses start throughout the year. A Cypress College education costs $46 per unit — $138 for a typical, full-credit class — California’s lowest tuition. Eligible first-time students qualify for free tuition through Cypress College’s Charger Experience promise program. Financial aid and scholarships are also available to qualifying students.

Cypress College is one of three campuses in the North Orange County Community College District and a member of the 116-campus California Community College system. The college primarily serves the cities of Anaheim, Buena Park, Cypress, Garden Grove, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Seal Beach, and Stanton.

Located at 9200 Valley View Street in Cypress, the college is easily accessible from several Southern California freeways, including the 5, 91, 605, 22, and 405. The campus is just a stone’s-throw from Downtown Disney and Knott’s Berry Farm.

In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Cypress College’s instruction and services are now offered both in person on campus and in an online/remote format. Students can access support services online at


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