Perris officials inked an agreement this week with Mt. San Jacinto College administrators that paves the way for higher-education classes at the City Senior Center.
“This is another milestone for us,” Mayor Michael Vargas said after signing the memorandum of understanding with the college.
The agreement means MSJC will offer Communications 100, a public-speaking class, at the senior center starting on Oct. 11 and concluding on Dec. 6. Plans call for the college district to expand the offerings in Spring to include courses in both the general education and Career Education pathways. Both can lead to an associate degree or courses that transfer to four-year universities. The Career Education pathway also offers career certificates to improve job skills or provide opportunities for career advancement to assist residents in meeting the increasing demand in Perris for a qualified workforce.
“It’s an extremely exciting day for us. Partnering with MSJC will open more doors for Perris residents to obtain college credit and certifications that will help them gain better jobs in the future,” the Mayor said.
Vargas, members of the Perris City Council and senior administrators joined with Mt. San Jacinto College Superintendent/President Dr. Roger Schultz in signing the agreement August 27.
The pact was especially significant for Mayor Pro-Tem Malcolm Corona and City Councilwoman Tonya Burke, who make up the City’s Ad Hoc School Liaison Committee. Corona is a math instructor at Perris High School. Burke works with at-risk youngsters and adults in her job with the California Department of Rehabilitation.
“This is huge—a red-letter day,” Corona said. “It’s always a great time when you can advocate for the benefits of Perris residents. This is the first step in getting our residents closer to college degrees and hopefully increased income as well. This agreement shows our City’s commitment to education. The City Council is focused on making sure our residents are prepared for the future.”
Name It, Claim It, Speak It to Existence
Burke called the signing a “dream come true, something I’ve always envisioned as a resident and City Council member.” The public speaking course is only the first step, Burke said, adding that she hopes future course expansion leads to certification-completion programs along with Career Technical Education offerings. She noted that for many financially strapped college students, the commute out of the City could make it difficult to complete their education and thus reduce their chance for economic gain.
“This is the start of many great things to come,” Burke said. “It makes for a better economy and a better workforce for our City. It also encourages people to continue their education.”
In remarks made to the gathered audience in the Senior Center, Burke said she hoped the City and MSJC would eventually work to bring a satellite campus to Perris. She used the words her grandmother spoke when calling for goals that appear difficult to achieve: “Name It, Claim It, Speak It to Existence!” Burke said.
City Councilwoman Rita Rogers urged Perris residents to enroll in the public speaking course. She said her desire for Perris residents is to increase their education, improve their earning power and “fulfill all of their lifelong dreams.”
A Glorious Day
City Manager Richard Belmudez was one of the signees of the memorandum of understanding. He called the collaboration with MSJC “a glorious day” for both agencies and added that Perris continues expanding its educational opportunities.
In addition to the MSJC collaboration, the City is working with the Perris Community Adult School to create a program to train a new generation of construction inspectors.
Dr. Jamail Carter, MSJC Dean of Instructional Services, said the signing ceremony culminated two years of work between City and college reps.
“This is definitely the beginning,” Carter said. “This is really big. I’m really proud of the educational and employment opportunities this agreement represents.”
MSJC Superintendent/President Schultz echoed those sentiments, saying he hopes the signing ceremony spawns more courses, certificates and graduates with job-ready skills from Perris.
“I hope we’ve laid the groundwork that will lead to so many more opportunities to help residents meet the needs of a regional workforce,” Schultz said.