First Award of Bachelor’s Degrees at Cypress College’s 51st Commencement on Friday
Friday’s graduation at Cypress College will feature the first cohort of baccalaureate-degree recipients and a record number of overall participants — nearly 600. The 51st commencement begins at 6 p.m. on May 25, 2018, in Gateway Plaza. A live video feed will be provided via Facebook Live and on the college website.
The Bachelor of Science in Funeral Service will be awarded to five students as part of a state-wide pilot program in which 15 California Community Colleges were selected for career-based baccalaureate-degree programs. Instruction in the program began in August. The degree candidates are: Stephen Crawford, Aimee-Lynne Gigel, Lisa Hang, Cassidy Johnston, and Jenna Moerk.
There are 1,002 students graduating from at least one of the college’s 73 degree programs. Combined, they are earning 1,228 associate degrees. Another 432 students are earning a combined 649 occupational certificates from one of the 176 career-certificate programs. The record of successful student completion helped Cypress College earn Niche, Inc.’s ranking as the top community college in California, several Star awards from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, and a number of other top-five national designations.
Abhiruchi Chaulagain is Cypress College’s Outstanding Graduate for 2018. Headed to UCI in the fall, Chaulagain (full bio below) moved to the United States in 2015 following a devastating earthquake in her native Nepal. The disaster inspired her to seek a career in emergency and disaster medicine.
Curtis Scheetz, a business owner, is the 2018 Outstanding Alumnus. Scheetz completed the college’s HVAC program and went on to work his way up in the heating and ventilation industry. He founded Total Environmental Management, Inc. to fill a void in the industry.
Farisa Morales, a NASA astrophysicist, will deliver the commencement keynote. Dr. Morales searches for new planets at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and is a faculty member at California State University, Northridge and Moorpark College. A community college graduate, Dr. Morales also earned degrees at UCLA, CSUN, and USC.
More information about commencement is available at: http://www.cypresscollege.edu/commencement-central/.
Abhiruchi Chaulagain, 2018 Outstanding Graduate
Abhiruchi Chaulagain’s career goals became perfectly clear on the April 2015 day that a 7.8 earthquake struck her native Nepal. Nearly 9,000 people died, roughly 22,000 were injured, and 3.5 million people were left homeless. This experience motivated Chaulagain to move to the U.S. in pursuit of a medical career focused on emergency and disaster medicine.
“Enrolling myself in Cypress College was the first thing I did after moving to this country,” said Chaulagain, an Honors Program and (STEM)2 student. “I was in desperate need of a fresh start, and when I visited the campus, I knew this was the right place to start my journey. I was highly attracted by the diverse crowd, welcoming atmosphere, and tremendous student resources.”
As she prepares to attend University of California, Irvine in the fall, she does so after significant academic achievement and campus involvement during her two years at Cypress College. She has also volunteered at St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach for more than 400 hours, assisting patients with eating, bathing, and walking.
“I will be forever grateful to Cypress for providing me with such wonderful opportunities, and helping me grow personally and academically,” Chaulagain said. “With a content heart, I can say that I am CYProud.”
Curtis Scheetz, 2018 Outstanding Alumnus
Curtis Scheetz is the founder and owner of Total Environmental Management, Inc., a leader in the HVAC industry for over 30 years providing temporary and emergency heating and cooling throughout California and the West. After obtaining his associate degree in heating, ventilation, and cooling from Cypress College, Curtis entered his profession on the ground floor working at Barber Colman in the stockroom and later as a controls application engineer. From there, he moved on to Western Air where he honed his skills in sales and then was promoted to service manager.
He re-entered the sales force at York and later moved on to Southland Industries where his sales skills and success led him to become the sales manager of their then-new division known as Sisco. He managed a sales team of nine professionals and helped to make Sisco a well-known and respected service contractor in the Southern California marketplace.
Curt’s passion for his industry, combined with an astute ability to think outside the box, led him to found TEM in 1985 as a way to provide emergency and temporary HVAC services lacking in the industry at that time. Starting as a part-time business with just one air handler, Curt tirelessly worked around the clock and today the company has the largest inventory of any HVAC rental company on the West Coast.
Always searching for new challenges, Curt is as passionate about community service and fundraising as he is about climate. Currently, he volunteers his time and efforts to help raise money for the Millers Children and Women’s Hospital, Long Beach and has also become involved in Serving People In Need, an organization that helps homeless individuals in Orange County. He is a strong advocate for Cypress College, his alma mater, where he helps with both fundraising and promoting of the school’s stellar HVAC program. He is also a regular blood and platelet donor, and supports many other charitable organizations through TEM.
Curt has been married to his wife, Jill, an interior designer, for 42 years and is the proud father of a son, Curtis, and daughter, Natalie, both of whom live with their families in the Southern California area.
Farisa Morales, 2018 Graduation Speaker
NASA’s Farisa Morales hunts planets for a living. In addition to her work as an active astrophysicist searching for unknown planets at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, she is a professor at California State University, Northridge and Moorpark College.
Her journey to the cosmos, though, is one Cypress College students can identify with. With a 3-year-old daughter and a 6-month-old baby, she began her college education at L.A. Mission College, where she majored in mathematics. As she completed her community college studies and transferred to UCLA, she participated in Caltech’s SURF internship program at NASA/ JPL. While working at JPL as an academic part-timer, and raising her kids, Morales graduated with a bachelor’s degree in astrophysics from UCLA. She continued to earn a master’s degree in physics from CSUN. Her work on planetary debris disks at JPL with the Spitzer Space Telescope evolved into her dissertation project, resulting in attainment of her doctorate in physics from USC.
Morales currently studies stars with planetary debris disks — the dusty, ring-like structures, home to colliding asteroids and sublimating comets, that circle stars like the sun, and hint at planet formation processes, their architecture, and composition. Morales also searches for the planetary companions stirring the dust around nearby stars. Her work is conducted using the Keck Observatory in Hawaii and the Hale Telescope in Palomar.
Born in the U.S., Morales was raised in Jalisco, Mexico, where she completed her primary education. As a teenager, she and her family migrated back to the U.S., where she completed high school in the Los Angeles County public school system. Morales married at 18 and began a family.
2017-2018 Faculty Award Winners
The Cypress College Academic Senate announced the recipients of this year’s Faculty Awards. Recipients were chosen by the Senate based on nominations from their colleagues.
- Outstanding Full-Time Faculty of the Year: Cindy Shrout, Mathematics
- Oustanding Adjunct Faculty of the Year: Wayne Chang, Biology
- Charger Award: Regina Rhymes, Sociology
About Cypress College:
Cypress College has motivated the minds of students since 1966. For nearly a half-million people — including actors, athletes, doctors, executives, mechanics, nurses, and teachers — Cypress College has been a springboard to their dreams. For some, Cypress College is the ticket into their university of choice and for others it provides essential training for a rewarding 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 offers 56 university-transfer majors, 176 career-certificate programs, and degrees in 73 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. 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 114-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.
View the full news release (PDF).
Mortuary Science Alum First in Line as Baccalaureate Application Opens
Steve Crawford was so determined to be the first applicant for Cypress College’s Funeral Service baccalaureate program, he flew to Southern California from the Bay Area a day early to hand in his completed application Monday.
“I’m very excited. I wanted to make sure that I was that person who was the first one in,” the alumnus said after he handed in his application. “I came down yesterday so I could be prepared, so I could be here, print all my stuff at eight o’clock, drive over here, and be done.”
Crawford graduated with an A.S. Mortuary Science degree in Fall 2014.
Applications for Cypress College’s first baccalaureate program opened Monday. The bachelor’s degree is part of a statewide pilot program signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in September 2014 to offer four-year degrees at California community colleges. Under the pilot, these degrees do not compete with programs at UC or Cal State schools.
While a student, Crawford championed the program to the District Board of Trustees, helping to secure their support to submit the program to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office for consideration. Each district could only submit one program. Cypress’ Funeral Service proposal was up against Fullerton College’s proposal for a law enforcement supervision degree.
In January 2015, the CCCCO selected Cypress as one of 15 community colleges to participate in the pilot.
Crawford credits Cypress Mortuary Science faculty member Jolena Grande with making the program a reality.
“If not for her, the program wouldn’t have made it,” he said. “I’m sure I helped, but the credit really goes all to her. She went all out for this. It’s really her baby.”
Cypress’ Mortuary Science program is just one of two public programs in the state and the only one offering a four-year degree on the West Coast. Courses for the program start next fall.
Crawford said his interest in mortuary science started with a desire to land a job in a coroner’s office. One way to meet job requirements was a degree in mortuary science, and Cypress was his school of choice “because it’s ranked really highly just in the list of mortuary programs nationwide,” he said.
“I don’t know if I would be where I am within my own organization without the education from Cypress,” he added.
Crawford is currently completing an embalming apprenticeship working as a crematory manager for the Holy Angels Funeral and Cremation Center in East Bay. He hopes to finish up his professional licensing while completing the bachelor’s program.
He said he hopes that having a bachelor’s program in funeral services will help to start change the way the mortuary and funeral industry is viewed by the public.
“The funeral industry kind of gets a bad rap,” he said. “People think they’re basically used car salesmen for death, trying to upsell people…taking advantage of people when they’re grieving.
“Hopefully, through furthering the education process and really getting involved more in the professional organizations, we will change that outlook.”
New Website for Bachelor’s Degree in Funeral Service Program
Cypress College offers associates degrees in multiple fields. Recently, Cypress was one of 15 community colleges in California approved to offer a bachelor’s degree as part of a statewide pilot program.
Cypress College’s program is a Bachelor’s of Science in Funeral Service. Such a degree is rare. In fact, Cypress College’s selection to offer a bachelor’s degree in funeral service presents a unique opportunity since there are no other colleges or universities offering this type of degree in the Western United States. The closest such program is in Oklahoma.
Cypress College’s Bachelor’s of Science in Funeral Service program is a course of study in funeral service education designed for students who wish to advance their career and employment opportunities as a funeral service practitioner. Students in the program will gain a strong knowledge of cemetery and crematory operations, mortuary jurisprudence, issues and trends in funeral service, and more, including externships in clinical embalming and funeral service.
To offer students the resources they need, Cypress College created a website specifically for the Bachelor of Science in Funeral Service program. The site, located at bachelors.cypresscollege.edu, serves as an information hub for students interested in this program.
If you are interested in the Bachelor of Science in Funeral Service program offered at Cypress College, please fill out this interest form. The enrollment period begins February 6, 2017.
1 of 15
California Community Colleges
Baccalaureate Degree Pilot Program
A degree in mortuary science is rare. In fact, there are only two public programs offering associate degrees in the field in the State of California. For those seeking to advance in the funeral services industry, a bachelor’s degree is even less common. In fact, Cypress College’s selection to offer a baccalaureate degree in funeral services presents a unique opportunity since there are no other colleges or universities offering this type of degree in the Western United States.
Cypress College — like all 113 California Community Colleges — offers associates degrees in a wide variety of fields. Currently, there are 71 degree programs approved as part of Cypress College’s curriculum.
However, Cypress is one of the 15 California Community Colleges approved to offer a baccalaureate degree as part of a statewide pilot program designed to offer upper division coursework in disciplines not currently covered in the instructional programs offered in the California State University and University of California systems. Cypress College’s program — officially a bachelor’s of science in funeral services — will begin instruction in Fall 2017. This new degree will offer upper division academic and vocational instruction to students, as well as bring expanded employment opportunities to Southern California.
The overarching goal of the program is to enhance, not supplant, the current Associate in Science degree program at Cypress College. In fact, the program and strong alumni base will provide a robust pool of candidates for the baccalaureate degree.
While the concept of a community college baccalaureate degree is likely new to many — state legislation approving the program was passed in 2014 — Professor Jolena Grande has been working towards this moment since 1995. For more than 20 years, she planned, gathered information, and lined up support waiting for the opportunity. Since the program was selected, she has worked tirelessly for a successful implementation.
TVB (USA) Visits Cypress College to Report on Mortuary Science Bachelor's Degree
TVB (USA), a Chinese-language channel appearing across the country, visited Cypress College on Tuesday to prepare a news report about Cypress College’s participation in the California Community College’s pilot bachelor’s degree program. Cypress College’s Mortuary Science Program was one of the 15 programs selected to represent the state’s 112 community colleges in the first-of-it’s-kind effort in the Golden State.
It’s not yet known when the TVB story will air, but the plan is that it will be shown nationally, in the Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York markets.
Professor Dave McCament hosted the news crew in his Restorative Arts classroom for more than 3 hours. Both he and his students did a fantastic job when interviewed.
UPDATE: Here is the report (note: only the interviews are in English).
Cypress College’s Mortuary Science Program Selected in California’s First Bachelor’s Degree Pilot Program
OFFICE OF CAMPUS COMMUNICATIONS
Cypress College is one of 15 California community colleges that will offer a bachelor’s-degree program as part of a statewide pilot effort. The College’s Mortuary Science Program was selected by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors, which voted its initial approval of participating colleges on Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m just thrilled,” Cypress College President Dr. Bob Simpson said. “This is an extraordinary opportunity for our students. Our faculty worked with tremendous diligence to meet the application requirements. In addition, the College’s proposal was enhanced by the participation of Mortuary Science students and alumni in the process. While this is a significant step for community college students, it is also important to note that successful implementation of this program will not impede the core work of the college.”
Cypress College’s Mortuary Science Program is so well regarded that the HBO series “Six Feet Under” repeatedly referenced Cypress College to add authenticity. The program is one of only two at public institutions in the state and no public university in the Western United States offers a bachelor’s degree in the field. The closest such program is in Oklahoma.
In the News
Orange County Register — Santa Ana, Cypress colleges slated to offer 4-year degrees
Los Angeles Times — Fifteen community colleges in California to offer four-year degrees
Long Beach Press Telegram — Cypress College among 15 campuses to offer 4-year degrees
Cypress College’s Mortuary Science Program was selected last November by North Orange County Community College District Trustees to apply for the California pilot program. Districts were permitted to submit only one program each. Programs also were required not to be in conflict with bachelor’s-degree programs already offered in the Cal States or UCs.
In September 2014, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that allows California community colleges to award bachelor’s degrees in a pilot program. The legislation, known as SB 850, was sponsored by Sen. Marty Block (D-San Diego).
Instruction in the pilot baccalaureate degree program in 15 college districts will begin no later than the 2017-18 academic year. Under the new law, community colleges would charge only $84 more per unit for upper-division baccalaureate coursework than they currently charge for lower-division courses. The Legislative Analyst’s Office will conduct an interim evaluation of the bachelor’s degree program in 2018, and a final evaluation by July 2022. The pilot program will end in the 2022-23 academic year, unless extended by the Legislature.
Nationwide, more than 50 community colleges operate almost 500 baccalaureate programs in 21 states.
About Cypress College:
Cypress College has motivated the minds of students since 1966. For nearly a half-million people — including actors, athletes, doctors, executives, mechanics, nurses and teachers — Cypress College has been a springboard to their dreams. For some, Cypress College is the ticket into their university of choice. For others it provides essential training for a rewarding 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 its highly qualified teaching faculty are proud of its many excellent academic and vocational programs. Cypress College offers 50 university-transfer majors, 138 career-certificate programs, and degrees in 61 areas of study. The College’s traditional semesters begin in January and September, 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 higher education tuition. 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 110-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. Dr. Bob Simpson is the president.
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.
More information about Cypress College is available by calling (714) 484-7000 or by visiting the campus Web site at http://www.cypresscollege.edu.
NOTE: The official news release is available here — Cypress College’s Mortuary Science Program Selected in California’s First Bachelor’s Degree Pilot Program
- First California Community College Bachelor’s Degree Programs Receive Initial Approval from Board of Governors (California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office)
- Mortuary Science Selected by NOCCCD Trustees as District’s Applicant for Bachelor’s Degree Pilot Program (@Cypress Online)
- OC’s 100 Most Influential Includes Mortuary Science’s Glen Bower (@Cypress Online)