Beyond the Scandal: An Ode to the Students of Chaffey

Student Daniela Fabian at Chaffey Community College. Photos by Paris Barraza.

Student Daniela Fabian at Chaffey Community College. Photos by Paris Barraza.

Manager of Governmental Relations and Transitional Services at Chaffey College, Lorena Corona, shakes her head softly in disappointment inside her office at the Rancho campus.

A graduate of Harvard University, Corona transferred from Chaffey College. As a former student, current administrator and advocate for minority groups, Corona represents everything Chaffey students are.

On the morning of March 12 the nation was angered when the first headlines broke about the college admissions scandal affecting top universities across the nation, including University of Southern California, Georgetown University and Stanford University. Days later, people continue to be frustrated by the news. While it comes as no surprise to many, students are forced to reconcile with the fact that some of their peers cheated their way into the same positions they worked for.

The vast majority of us who attend college, whether it be a junior college or a four-year university, are not liars nor cheats. According to Forbes, 33 parents are charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud in efforts to secure their children a spot in one of the schools involved. TIME reported that Yale University rescinded the admission of one student connected to the scheme. It is expected the other schools involved will follow suit.

In light of the headlines, there is something larger that deserves recognition. Across the nation are students who work tirelessly to pursue their dreams, and students at Chaffey are no different.

"The world should know who we are," Corona proudly declares.

So, who are we? Like any junior college, Chaffey Community College exists to welcome new students of all walks of life, in all stages of their lives. The purpose of Chaffey is to encourage students to continue on in their academic careers, but provide flexibility and resources for those unsure of what their next step is. Chaffey College's official mission statement is:

"Chaffey College inspires hope and success by improving lives and our community in a dynamic, supportive, and engaging environment of educational excellence where our diverse students learn and benefit from foundation, career, and transfer programs."

Student Triston Stark outside his home in Rancho Cucamonga.

Student Triston Stark outside his home in Rancho Cucamonga.

Within the school's population are students like 20-year-old Triston Stark. Stark says he is an engineering major who intends to transfer to California Polytechnic University Pomona to finish his degree. Though Stark has yet to fully recognize what his goals are for the future, he admits his desire to leave Rancho Cucamonga and begin life on his own.

Opposite from Stark is 19-year-old Sabria Joaquin, a film and television production major.

"Attending a community college wasn’t a 'back-up plan' or a 'second choice,' but it was the only option that allowed me to obtain a college level education," Joaquin discloses.

Joaquin is in the process of completing the Honors Program at Chaffey and is determined to finish her academic career strong. She cites the challenges she faced within the program and her experiences at Chaffey for her growth, both academically and personally. Joaquin found a passion for her community and a perspective on the world different from her experiences before Chaffey.

"I think that's something to be proud of," Joaquin adds.

Her hopes beyond Chaffey lie in helping others.

"My niche has always been with people. I strive to elevate the lives of others, helping people reach their full potential," Joaquin shares.

Like Joaquin, communications and journalism major Daniela Fabian, 19-years-old, initially found her positive experience at Chaffey to be a surprise. Fabian is part of the Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) at Chaffey, which helps to cover her expenses here.

"Chaffey really pushed me to get involved more in classes," Fabian reveals.

She laughs that USC is no longer her first choice for when she transfers, considering the recent scandal. Nonetheless, Fabian works hard to pursue higher education and shares her dreams, whether it be working at The New York Times or Vogue.

Student Josh Godoy at his home in Fontana.

Student Josh Godoy at his home in Fontana.

Fellow Chaffey student Joshua Godoy, a 19-year-old Sociology major, has plans for his future as well. Godoy is prepared to transfer to University of La Verne and continue on to graduate school to complete his Master's degree.

"My future itself inspires me," Godoy begins. "I want to see the world. There's so much to look forward to, whether it's people or environments or trying new foods, you definitely are looking to broadening and expanding your mind."

Like Stark, Joaquin, Fabian and Godoy, there are thousands of students between the three campuses with dreams of their own. These students excel in their classes and communities in spite of hardships that threaten their ability to continue. Students at Chaffey are mothers and fathers, they are in between jobs and without homes. They attend late evening classes and rely on the Panther Pantry and still maintain high GPAs.

In 2018, more than 6,000 degrees were earned by Chaffey students. Over a thousand students participated in the commencement ceremony. In two months, the 102nd commencement ceremony will take place and celebrate the successes of all of the unsung students who are seeking something more. Rather than focusing on the latest update on the college admissions scandal, Corona hopes to remind the world what truly matters.

"I grew up with values. I know dignity, respect. Those values are part of my business. I am a fighter. Dreamer," Corona affirms.

Like Corona, Chaffey students are fighters and dreamers. These thousands attest to what higher education is meant to be, an equalizer.