March - May 2020 | Volume 1, Issue 10

Student News

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Students pose in commencement regalia

College to Hold a Virtual Graduation

Commencement is a time-honored tradition where family and friends come together to celebrate your success. In 2020, commencement will have a different look and feel. At the same time, the College's faculty and staff understand the importance of commencement. It holds special meaning for students, much like it does for faculty and staff.

As such, Moreno Valley College is holding an online celebration for 2020 graduates on Friday, June 12. Graduates, family and friends will hear from Robin Steinback, Ph.D., president; Angela Thomas, a Riverside City College graduate, who is currently an MVC adjunct faculty member; and student Crystal Williams, director, Inter-Club Council and director of Region IX Regional Affairs.

The virtual graduation will feature a personalized slide for each qualifying student. Graduates will also have the choice of returning in 2021 for an in-person ceremony. The graduation link will be posted on the College's commencement website a few days prior to the event.

Chrystal Williams

Student Commencement Speaker
Finds Her Voice, Future

In June of 2017, Crystal Williams had reached her peak.

Or, so she thought.

"When I graduated from Rancho Verde High in 2017, I was pretty sure that I had reached my potential," Williams said. "I was an average student, with no known talents other than talking a lot. I didn't think I had a place in this world. I honestly doubted if I was going to make it anywhere in life since I just felt I had no purpose, nothing to give the world."

Was she ever wrong. Williams, 20, will graduate and transfer to California State University, Fullerton to study communications. But before she does, Williams, the 2020 student commencement speaker, will address the graduating class remotely when the College holds its first-ever campus-wide virtual graduation ceremony on June 12 at 5 pm due the state's stay-at-home order.

She said it was learning about the First Year Experience, a program that enables students to successfully transition from high school to college. That experience taught Williams that high school was literally just the first step in her life and was not the peak of her potential.

"I thought I could get my general education out of the way and then figure out what I wanted to do or (perhaps) come out of it with a talent," she said.

Little did Williams know that decision would lead her to find herself and discover a passion for activism.

"My freshman year I joined the Music Club," she said. "I had bought a bass and wanted to find a teacher to help me learn (the instrument). I went to a meeting where there was a room full of people. The president asked if anyone could make it to the ICC meetings on Wednesdays at 12:30 pm, and I remember no one raised their hand.

Eventually, Williams raised her hand.

"So, I became the ICC representative for Music Club that year," she said.

By her second year, Williams was an active member of the Associated Students of Moreno Valley College (ASMVC), serving as the student co-director of ICC.

"I never interacted with the student government outside of the ICC meetings," she said. "I always walked past them and never went to any events."

Then in the spring of 2018, Iiyshaa Youngblood, who had been elected vice president of ASMVC, approached Williams about becoming the ICC director.

"I was like 'nope,'" she said. "I tried to avoid her at every cost. I was interested, but I was very afraid of walking into the unknown."

In the summer, Williams had a change of heart and applied to be ICC co-director. Little did she know this was all leading to a statewide role in advocating for students. She ran and was voted communications officer for Region IX, serving on the Student Senate of California Community Colleges. The mission of the Student Senate for California Community Colleges is to pursue policies that will improve student access, promote student success, engage and empower local student leaders, and enrich the collegiate experience for all California community college students.

The Senate is recognized by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors and Chancellor's Office as the official voice of students in system participatory governance. Further, the Senate is recognized by the California State Legislature, Office of the Governor, California Student Aid Commission, and other state agencies as the official voice of students in legislative and policy advocacy. The Senate is also recognized by local associated student organizations as the official voice of students in regional support and development.

In May of 2019, she ran for the Regional Affairs director of Region IX and won. As director, Williams was tasked with running the region and representing the region's 12 colleges on the Board of Directors. At the 2020 General Assembly in April, Williams was part of the first-ever virtual assembly. There were over 200 individuals on the teleconference, 85 of them voters who passed an updated constitution, new bylaws, a three-year strategic plan, and 23 resolutions.

"This year is what really changed me for the better," said Williams, whose term ends June 30. "You don't need a title to make change…(it is about) inspiring yourself to use your voice. (Now) it is about passing down your knowledge so the people coming up behind can go further than you did.

"Going to Moreno Valley College is the best decision I have made so far, because my life has completely changed. It wasn't because of the College itself; it was because of the amazing people I met along the way who truly gave me a new outlook on life."

She hopes the graduating class of 2020 feels the same way.

"I want the Class of 2020 to know that everyone has the power to change the world around them by speaking up. We impact people's lives daily all around us, and when you realize the power you have, and start using it for the better, things will start changing."

Competition winners and art

Committee Announces Winners of the
César E. Chávez Scholarships

Despite cancellation of the César E. Chávez Scholarship Breakfast, the Committee awarded scholarships to four high school students and three Moreno Valley College students. Each year, the College holds the César E. Chávez Scholarship Breakfast to raise funds for scholarships for students from the local high school districts as well holds an art competition for students at the College. While this year's celebration was tabled due to the COVID-19 shutdown, the Cesar Chavez Committee awarded $500 scholarships to four high school winners and $600 to the top three finishers in the art competition.

Assemblymember Jose Medina, who was to be honored with the César E. Chávez Legacy Award, will be recognized at the breakfast in 2021.

High School Competition Winners

Angela Madrigal

Angela Madrigal is considered a phenomenal student at Citrus Hill High School and exemplifies the high school's motto of class. A 4.15 GPA student, Madrigal is a member of the sports medicine team at the high school. She logged over 400 hours working with Hawks' student athletes. She is an AVID student who serves as an AVID Ambassador. She demonstrates servant leadership on campus. Madrigal is this year's valedictorian and plans to attend UC Riverside to study biochemistry.

Edgarventura Melendrez

Edgarventura Melendrez is a senior at Valley View High School taking honors and AP classes. Melendrez carries a weighted GPA of 4.478. But he isn't all brains. He has been involved in programs and extracurriculars, serving as president of our Cyber Patriots Club; former president of STEAM Club; vice president of Engineering Society; and a member of the Computer Science Honors Society, National Honors Society and Mu Alpha Theta. He has presented his work at such high-profile events as the Riverside County Science Fair, Riverside County Programing Competition, Cal Poly Programing Competition, Cyberpatriots Competition, California Mayor's Cup, Congressional App Contest, and participated in the AAUW Speech Trek.

He is a presenter and instructor/tutor in STEAM driven events. He volunteers as an instructor at the Palm Summer STEAM Academy; served as a panelist at the NICE K12 conference; and was a presenter at the Bourns Industrial Partners Conference. Melendrez has also volunteered at Operation Gobble Gobble, NHS Canned Food Drive; and NHS Gently Used Clothes Drive. Melendrez is majoring in Computer Science, looking to continue his goal of "finding new and creative ways to implement STEAM related programs and events into the community."

Anisha Alam

Anisha Alam, a senior at Rancho Verde High School, has been active throughout her high school career. She volunteered for the Summer at City Hall Program where she was able to do intern hours to gain valuable job-related skills and assist the city with vital functions. She has been an active member of the Bangladeshi Youth Association, serving as the organizer of youth activities.

Alam has taken an active role in leadership activities at the high school. She has been active in the school's Link Crew Program, which helps underclassmen get on the right track from the beginning of their high school career. She currently serves as president within the Link Crew Program. She is also an Associated Student Body elected officer, leading in promoting a positive climate and culture at Rancho Verde High School.

Sofia Yepez

When Sofia Yepez isn't in the classroom, you will find her in the community serving others. Her work in the community includes city clean ups, serving Thanksgiving dinners, and assisting in hygiene projects. Yepez, who attends Moreno Valley High School, is a passionate and dedicated individual, focused on helping struggling families. She seeks any opportunity to give back to her community. As president of the Interact Club, Yepez has assembled a team of dedicated school volunteers — at all grade levels — to participate in various events. She has changed the stigma of being around teenagers.

In the fall, Yepez plans on attending UCLA to study Biomedical Engineering and eventually enter the medical device industry. She hopes to one day create new technology that improves children's well-being.

Artwork Winners

Esmeralda Gil

First place went to Esmeralda Gil for her video. Gil is finishing her second year of college. She grew up in Moreno Valley and was raised by a mother who also studied at MVC and Riverside City College, becoming a physician assistant. Gil is following in her footsteps as she pursues a degree in health science at California Baptist University. Although she loves science, she also loves art. Gil grew up singing and playing the piano, and later went on to discover theater. Gil said, "I suppose that explains why I make everything dramatic!"

Irvin Escobar

Second place winner was Irvin Escobar for this photo.

Photograph depicting UFW workers protesting in orange grove. Artwork by Irvin Escobar.

Growing up, Escobar saw the struggle of his parents. He says, "They worked hard to support me and my family. Our extended family in Mexico are natural born harvesters and farmers. My father brought his skill to the United States in order to give me and my siblings a better life." Seeing his parents work hard—day in and day out—encouraged him to work hard in school. Escobar also pursued higher education as a means to show his younger siblings the importance of an education. Being a minority in this country is a struggle, Escobar says. "My family was not handed a thing and we have had to suffer through financial hardships," he said. "But my family has always had a positive mindset and my dad or mom would tell me ‘to work hard and good times will come.'" His goal in life is to be the first in his family to graduate from a university. And although Escobar says there are still struggles, he knows it will all be worth it in the end. He will be attending the University of California, Riverside this fall, studying Public Relations.

Walter Nguyen

And, third place was awarded to Walter Nguyen for his pencil sketch.

Sketch by Walter Nguyen

A Middle College student, Walter Nguyen held a 4.3 GPA after his sophomore year of high school. Currently, in his students in high school and at Moreno Valley College, Nguyen holds a cumulative GPA of 4.0. His sophomore year, he received the region's 2019 RIMS AVID Write Off Award. His winning essay explored the necessity of a free college education. He says, he values and is motivated by his loving family above all else and is constantly doing his best to make both of his parents proud. Nguyen has a passion for the arts, in particular drawing. He said, he entered the art competition in order to showcase his skills. His drawing portrays a tattered, bandaged Cesar Chavez next to a crowd of four individuals who are silently mouthing, "we are suffering. We have suffered. And we are not afraid to suffer in order to win our cause."


Political Science Major Wins Election to Serve as RCCD Student Trustee

Ivan Hess, a student at Riverside City College, has been elected as Riverside Community College District 2020-21 Student Trustee. Hess, a Political Science major, earned 61 percent of the online votes. He will begin his term after the last day of this semester. Hess replaces Jorge Zavala, a student at Moreno Valley College. A resident of Riverside, Hess campaigned on protecting and expanding of rights, benefits, and services for students, in light of the COVID-19 crisis and its economic impact. During his campaign, Hess unveiled a 10-point platform which detailed plans and goals for educational access and affordability, economic equity, family and workers' rights, public health, administrative transparency, environmental responsibility and social justice.

"Together," he said, "we can implement policies that work for all and ensure our District serves a broader mission of access, equity, and justice in our communities."

RCCD seal
Photo collage of UBMS students at the African-American History and Academi Bowl

Upward Bound Team Finishes Second
at African-American History
and Academic Bowl

A four-student team from Moreno Valley College's Upward Bound program took second place in the 17th Annual African-American History and Academic Bowl at UC Riverside last month. The four students – Jazmine Anderson, Chandler Baker, Madison Kottman and Da'Monte Thompson – attend Valley View High School.

After winning its first three rounds, the team was edged in the finals by Chaparral High School in Temecula. Teams were tested on their knowledge in 10 categories – Inland Empire Black History, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Black Women Inventors, Chemistry, Tuskegee Airman, Black Writers and Artists, African American Firsts, African Geography and African States, California Black Legislators, and Blacks in Sports.

"The competition is something I'll remember and talk about forever because of how much I enjoyed the weeks leading up to it and participating in the competition," Anderson, a senior at Valley View High School, said. "The African-American Academic Bowl was more than a competition of memorization with a grand prize of laptops. (It was) a method to engage in and learn the history which makes our country great today. This opportunity has provided me with priceless information and skills, such as sportsmanship and teamwork, which I will cherish forever."

Teams from throughout Riverside, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties participated in the competition. The Academic Bowl was hosted by the Pi Rho Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. in partnership with the University of California.

This year's theme was – And Still We Rise! – in honor of Maya Angelou, American poet, singer, memoirist and civil rights activist who published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies and television shows spanning 50 years. The focus of the competition was centered on the historical reference point that "in 1619, 20-plus Angolans came off Portuguese ships as indentured servants, documenting European involvement of bringing Africans to the western world. Through the struggle, our elders formed churches, organizations, schools, and banks lifting us from poverty and misery to inventors, states people, and even astronauts. From Slave Ships, to Scholarships, to Spaceships ... & Still We Rise! was the anthem for the Knowledge Bowl!"

The students, who received laptop computers by finishing second, prepped for two months under Kim Williams, outreach specialist, Upward Bound; and Yesenia Sanchez, Alberto Tapia and Kimberly Sibrian, TRIO student activity advisors.

"I am so proud of our TRIO scholars," Micki Grayson, director, TRIO programs, said. "This is the first time we had students from our TRIO program participate in the competition. For them to have done so well is so exciting and a testament to their commitment and hard work. For nearly two months, the students studied and prepared for this competition. This was in addition to their already demanding schedules. I love that these students chose to take advantage of this unique learning opportunity. Winning new laptops is great, but the fact that they got to learn about a broader perspective of history than what they generally are taught in school is invaluable. The information they learned helped give them a more equitable and global perspective of society."

For more on the competition, log on to

Mercedes Barba smiles at the camera in front of a computer displaying the Census website.

MVC Student Selected as a
Census Outreach Ambassador

Moreno Valley College student Mercedes Barba has been selected as a Census outreach ambassador by the Foundation for California Community Colleges. Barba, a 2016 graduate of Warren High School in Downey, was one of 50 selected from over 200 applicants across the state who applied to be an ambassador.

Moreno Valley College will be one of 32 California community colleges that will have a spring Census outreach ambassador. Each of the 32 ambassadors are from colleges in counties with hard-to-count indexes. Ambassadors will be doing outreach until May. The program is a joint effort between the Foundation for California Community Colleges, the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, and the California Census Office. Through the use of college ambassadors, the Census Office hopes to increase awareness of the 2020 Census.

"I have worked with the Foundation of Community Colleges before as a student wellness ambassador. I enjoyed informing peers on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle and be stress free," said Barba, who is majoring in Nursing and planning to transfer in the spring. "The Census is super important because it only happens every 10 years and it determines California's federal funding for important community services.

"College students are the hardest to count for some reason, so I'm hoping by doing peer-to-peer outreach I can get more students completing the Census. By completing the Census we, especially students, receive more opportunities."

Earlier this month households received invitations and reminder letters in the mail. April 1 has been identified as Census Day across the country. Every 10 years, individuals across the country fill out a Census form. It is done in order to have an accurate population count. The Census determines federal funding for community services that help support families and ensure a fair share of representation in California and Washington, DC.

In an email notifying Barba of her selection, Carly Smith, senior specialist, Foundation for California Community Colleges, said, "The goal is for student ambassadors to address real and perceived barriers associated with completing the Census through canvassing and peer-to-peer conversations."

Student ambassadors, who earn a $850 stipend and a budget of $1,000 for event costs and outreach materials, receive comprehensive training to educate peers on how to complete the Census and address frequently asked questions. Ambassadors also conduct classroom presentations, host college events, do campus orientations, attend activity fairs, connect with and train other student leaders, work with student clubs, engage on social media, and serve as a spokesperson for local media.

Due to the COVID-19, Census outreach on college campuses has moved from face-to-face to online. Barba and other student ambassadors are shifting their focus to social media to get the word out. April 1 remains Census Day, but the deadline has been pushed back to August 14. Make sure to complete the Census online at


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Moreno Valley College

16130 Lasselle St., Moreno Valley, CA 92551
(951) 571-6100


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