SCC Administrator Forges Positive Partnerships
Jennifer Coto has worn a variety of administrative hats during her 22 years at Santiago Canyon College (SCC), most recently as the interim dean of Enrollment and Support Services. Among the highlights of a lengthy career at SCC is a period when she served as interim dean of Counseling and project director for three STEM internship programs offered through SCC.
The programs provide community college students with the opportunity to conduct eight weeks of undergraduate research with professors at California State University, Fullerton, and Chapman University, a partnership that she forged when she recognized the positive impact the internships have on students.
It was apparent during the first year of the internship program with Cal State Fullerton when she observed a student who was paired with a physics professor to work on the simulation of colliding black holes.
“Within two months he was hooked and decided to pursue a minor in physics, and transfer to the Cal State University at Fullerton rather than a UC,” said Coto. “Because this research experience introduced him to writing software, he was also invited to participate in a semester-long program that culminated with a visit to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).”
Coto added that in addition to real-life applications, students gain other exceptional opportunities from the research internships. This same student (who she refers to as her STEM “poster board” student) who went on to graduate from Cal State Fullerton and was awarded a coveted internship writing software launch systems at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
“Watching students evolve as they enter into these programs, uncertain of what to expect initially, is one of my biggest rewards as an educator,” said Coto. “These internships result in transformative experiences that benefit students with a new confidence in their own abilities.”