President Thayer’s Board Report for February 27, 2024

The following is a report to members of the North Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees
Presented by Cypress College President Scott W. Thayer, Ed.D.
on February 27, 2024

Our Black History Month celebration continues with our “Let’s Not Talk About It” social (in)justice and social equity mental health week event, created by the Rising Scholars in conjunction with the EMHC (Equity Mental Health Committee). This event highlights the voices of previously incarcerated individuals and the systems of oppression that contribute to this country’s mass incarceration. It also explores the themes of social justice/injustice and mental health.

To kick off this event, Jamala Taylor presented “The Power of Education to Transform and Enhance the Lives of Formerly Incarcerated Communities of Color.” Jamala is a dedicated social justice advocate with a rich background in organizing, both inside and outside of prison walls. Having transitioned from solitary confinement to the general population at CSP-LAC, Jamala’s journey includes a remarkable release in December 2020 after serving 31 years with a life sentence. Jamala is a Program Manager at the Insight Garden Program, a Professional Expert with the CC Rising Scholars Program, and an overall amazing human.

Robert Ortiz-Archila presented “Constructing Ecosystems that Cultivate a College-Going Culture among Formerly-Incarcerated People Across the State.” Robert Ortiz Archila serves as the Enrollment Specialist at Project Rebound. He holds an MS from CSULB’s SDHE Program and identifies as a formerly incarcerated individual. His experience includes teaching at Lancaster State Prison (CSP-LAC), YGC (Youth Guidance Center), and serving as adjunct counselor in CC Rising Scholars Program.

Lami J. Glenn Sr. presented “Race & the Criminal (in) Justice System.” Lami J. Glenn is a recent Summa Cum Laude graduate of CSULA, where he received his bachelor’s degree in sociology, with a minor in Pan African Studies in May 2023. Glenn currently serves as advisor for both Cal State LA’s Sociology Club and the Student Homie Union (SHU) and is in a management/leadership role at Homeboy Industries, a non-profit organization based in the Los Angeles area committed to social justice and reentry services to the greater county of Los Angeles community. Born and raised in south Los Angeles, with a fervor for equitable justice, Glenn’s research seeks to examines people’s sentiments and attitudes toward police brutality against unarmed Black Americans from the multifarious perspectives rooted in race, class, and gender.

Cypress College’s first annual Lunar New Year Celebration, the Year of the Dragon, was a hit! Over 300 students, faculty, staff, administrators, and neighbors in the community attended the event. The performance artist, Kazumi, demonstrated calligraphy along with traditional music and ended with a quiet blessing. Her artwork, which translates to “A New Path,” will be framed and placed in our ANAPISI ARC space. ARC stands for Access, Resiliency, and Community. The Yee Ying Tong Lion dancers’ mission is to share and promote cultural traditions through dance and their name means:

義 / Yee: righteous, kind, just

英 / Ying: brave, heroic, courageous

堂 / Tong: school, class, group

The lion dance is an important ritual in Chinese tradition believed to bring good luck and drive away evil spirits on auspicious occasions. A good performance can bring good luck and happiness.

This event was a special highlight for our new ANAPISI space which will be furnished this semester; many participated in voting for the logo to be created outside of our community space.

Cypress was also honored to have Dr. Alexis A. Thompson, MD, MPH, present about the importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Medicine and Genetic Research as part of Pluralism, Inclusion, and Equity (P.I.E.) series. Dr. Thompson has been a part of the efforts to develop treatments and ultimately a cure for sickle cell disease. Sickle cell anemia is a life-altering and life-threatening genetic condition that primarily affects individuals of West African heritage. Sickle cell disease patients are often members of under-represented and under-funded communities. Dr. Thompson has been advocating for the inclusion of minorities in the field of medicine and research. Dr. Thompson was recently awarded the 2023 “Award for Leadership in Promoting Diversity” by the American Society for Hematology. In this PIE series, Dr. Thompson shared the importance of sickle cell research, breakthroughs in medical technologies and efforts in developing a cure, as well as the benefits of diversity in medicine and research.

The Integrative Wellness Club met on February 21 for its first in-person Community Yoga class of the semester. Classes include gentle, therapeutic yoga postures, with breathing and meditation practices and is open to all students, faculty, and staff. In honoring Black History Month, they are featuring resources from the yoga community: Black Yoga Teachers Alliance, “The Uncommon Yogi” (a documentary), Restorative Yoga for Ethnic and Race-Based Stress and Trauma (a book), and Black Women’s Yoga History (a book).

In other interesting news, Cypress College Rising Scholars Program is teaming up with The Access Project, a non-profit legal services organization, to provide clean slate services to our student and staff community.  Expunging your record and reducing your felonies, wherever possible, can really help when you go to apply for jobs and seek housing!

For Valentine’s Day, Cypress VRC Unity held a flower gram fundraiser. The Cypress VRC’s Women’s Unit(y) group is designed to empower female-identifying military-connected students and facilitate an environment that is supportive of its culture. The goal is to establish meaningful connections, professional networks, and lifelong friendships while fostering personal growth, leadership skills, and advocacy for gender equality within the military community. We strive to provide resources, mentorships, and opportunities for personal and professional development to create a platform where every woman feels valued, respected, and equipped to succeed in their academic and personal endeavors. Each purchase not only brought joy to someone’s day but also contributed to supporting Cypress VRC Women’s Unity. We thank the Cypress Community for their kindness and thoughtfulness truly made a difference, and we are incredibly grateful for your support.

At this year’s ACCCA Level Up 2024 conference, Cypress College students showcased their talent and dedication alongside Professor Gary Gopar, Department Chair of Music. The group delivered several impressive musical arrangements, captivating attendees during the reception. Great job!

Additionally, I had the privilege of attending a Veterans Advisory Board meeting led by Congresswoman Michelle Park Steel at the Veterans Resource Center (VRC). The meeting addressed important issues concerning Veterans’ housing, mental health, and transportation for disabled veterans.

We have more exciting updates in our Cypress College Student Services Newsletter!

Buen Cypress! We Take This Journey Together!

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