Community colleges lauded at breakfast

COSTA MESA — Coast Community College District Chancellor Ding-Jo Currie asked a room full of community college officials, legislators and business representatives munching on bacon and eggs to consider what would happen without career and technical education programs.

Those are the same programs that turn out first-responders, auto technicians, carpenters, cosmetologists, flight attendants and welders, officials said.

"What would our workforce look like especially in this county?" Currie asked.

The Coast Community College District hosted the Orange County Community Colleges Legislative Task Forces' annual "Keeping Orange County at Work" breakfast Friday morning in its boardroom, 1370 Adams Ave., Costa Mesa.

The county's four community college districts — Coast, Rancho Santiago, North and South Orange County — brought their top officials to the breakfast to thank businesses and legislators for supporting career and technical education programs.

Coast Community College — which overseas Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Golden West College in Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley-based Coastline Community College — serves more than 90,000 around the county, the state and worldwide who become the backbone of the workforce, Currie said.

About 70% of nurses and more than 80% of police, firefighters and EMTs are credentialed at a community college, said Coast Trustee Lorraine Prinsky.

"Our community college programs are vital to this county's economy," she said.

The colleges honored Assemblyman Don Wagner (R-Irvine), a representative for State Sen. Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) and Southern California Edison for providing $1 million in scholarships to Golden West College students and partnering on its alternative-energy source programs. Toyota and Kia were also honored for supporting auto technician programs with money, vehicles, tools and, possibly, a job.

"Many times our students have a job waiting for them when they graduate," said Cypress College President Michael Kasler.

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