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Adelle Sarmiento Finds Network of Support at Cerritos College

Adelle Sarmiento

Adelle Sarmiento always planned to go to college, but as a first-generation student, she wasn’t sure how to start. At Cerritos College, Adelle found a network of support through the Teacher Training Academy (TRAC), where she was excited about becoming a teacher.  Teacher TRAC is a national award-winning teacher preparation program that serves students interested in teaching early childhood, elementary, secondary, or career technical education (CTE). The program works closely with local school districts to provide fieldwork placements, paid internships, scholarships, and work-based learning opportunities. Teacher TRAC also collaborates with local CSUs to provide seamless transfer pathways for students.

Adelle also learned about the College’s Promise Program, Cerritos Complete, which guarantees two years of free tuition for students attending local high schools in the district.

Adelle started at Cerritos College at the height of the pandemic, and she struggled to stay motivated to keep up with her college courses. She was falling below the minimum GPA requirement of her Elementary Education Teacher major, and she was facing ineligibility. Adelle’s professors noticed her challenges and intervened with supportive solutions to keep her on track.

“My professors asked me what steps I wanted to take to continue my education and what resources I needed to succeed?” Adelle explains. “They recommended free tutoring through the student center.” Her professors’ thoughtful consideration, without criticism or judgment, was the gentle wake-up call she needed.

“It has been such a pleasure working with Adelle,” says Professor Julie Davis, Associate Professor of History. “The act of learning for Adelle is not just preparatory for a future profession in teaching, but grounded in a deep and abiding desire to actively contribute to a more just world.”

“I like Cerritos College for the smaller class sizes,” Adelle explains, “I had conversations in class that made me excited to be a teacher.” Adelle enjoyed the style of her history class that facilitated dynamic class discussions and utilized active lectures and not plain PowerPoint slides. “My professors accommodated everyone and discussed topics from the real world,” she explains. During the pandemic, virtual classes were difficult for Adelle, but she felt supported by her professors and engaged in the experiences her program provided.

Adelle also found support through the Community Partnerships for Teacher Pipeline (CPTP) Mentor Program. CPTP is an initiative to build a community-based teacher pipeline to increase the number of teachers of color. Students are matched with a mentor teacher from the local community who provides invaluable guidance that will prepare students for their future careers. At the end of the semester, students also receive a stipend.

“It was exciting to get an insider look from a teacher’s perspective,” Adelle explains. Like many graduates in the pandemic, Adelle did not have opportunities for in-person observations, so she was thrilled to visit her CPTP mentor, Rhonda McNutt, from Gonsalves Elementary School in the ABC Unified School District. Adelle credits her mentor for encouraging the best decisions of her life to become a teacher.

Adelle works as an afterschool teacher with Think Together in Chino where she supervises a rotating schedule of 14-20 students, assisting with homework, activities, and outside structured play. “I wouldn’t have applied for this job if she [Rhonda] wasn’t there to help me,” Adelle explains.

Adelle is now ready to graduate and transfer to California State University, Long Beach in the fall.  “Reaching out is the first step and it’s intimidating, but once you get the lay of the land, you’ll have everything you need to break the ice,” Adelle explains.

For more information about the Teacher Training Academy (TRAC), please visit https://www.cerritos.edu/teachertrac/default.htm.

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