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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday, June 21, 2011 

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Chris Bender 619.482.6564
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Area Community College Students to Train Local Residents in Computer Skills

California Connects equips Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement students with laptops, software and Internet access

CHULA VISTA, CA – Southwestern College today announced free computer literacy classes for community members taught by students in its Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA) programs. MESA students will be teaching individuals how to apply for college, find a job, access health and finance resources and engage with social networks. Training will be available at the College District’s main Chula Vista campus until June 30 from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

            “Our students are on the cutting-edge, using modern devices and creating the software and applications to drive them. That’s why Southwestern College is proud to be a good neighbor and keep our community trained in technology,” Interim Superintendent/President Denise Whittaker said.

In April 2011, approximately 200 local community college students from Southwestern and San Diego City Colleges received free, state-of-the-art laptops through California Connects to train local residents on computer literacy. The laptops are outfitted with technology from HP, Microsoft, AT&T and Insight. MESA student mentors will receive hands-on training through the Microsoft IT Academy Program, giving them an opportunity to attain certification in Word, PowerPoint or Excel.  Over the next three years, a total of 5,800 laptops will be distributed to MESA students at 33 California Community College campuses, enabling them to educate others and help increase the number of broadband Internet users in California by more than 61,000 people.

“This is a twofold benefit to our community: service learning empowers our MESA students as educators and the community at large acquires skills to be competitive in today’s economy,” Dr. Raga Bakhiet, Southwestern College MESA Director, said.

An August 2010 study by the Public Policy Institute of California found that, while the digital divide has narrowed significantly among some demographic groups, a gap remains for Latinos, especially those from Spanish-speaking and economically disadvantaged households. California Connects is $10.9 million federal program designed to increase digital literacy and broadband access among underserved communities.

About Southwestern College

Accredited since 1964, Southwestern College is the only public institution of higher education in southern San Diego County, serving approximately 400,000 residents of communities including Bonita, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, National City, Nestor, Otay Mesa, Palm City, San Ysidro, Sunnyside and Coronado. The College District offers more than 312 associate degree and certificate options.  For more information, visit www.swccd.edu.

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