I am extremely excited to graduate with my A.A. at Mission College!!! I could not have accomplished this journey without the help of the wonderful ladies working in the ACCESS program. With their guidance, they have truly helped me to transform and mature into the person I always longed to be. I cannot be more thankful enough to have met them. They have created such an impact on my experience here at Mission. Jackie, Jenny, and Michelle you have all been so generous with your time providing me and other students with many opportunities in order to see us achieve these goals we have. And special thanks to our ASG President Sean Peters for telling me about ACCESS and introducing me to some of the greatest people I have ever met in my life! I have made so many friends here being in the program with me and I will never forget all of the memories we have together. Thank you so much and I love you all and I will miss each and every one of you so dearly with all my heart!!! :)

-Kayla M., TRIO/SSS ACCESS Student

Since the inception of the TRIO/SSS ACCESS Program at Mission, it has been instrumental in the success of many Mission College students. Mission College has a large population of low-income underserved students. The ACCESS program has been like a Mecca for many of them through the years. This program has helped students to remain in school and graduate, and most eventually transfer to a four year university.

There are many ways that I know ACCESS has helped its students through services such as extra counseling, tutoring, computers in the office for students to use, help with transfer and scholarship information & applications, and being a safe place for ACCESS students to hang out.

These extra and core services have been even more important recently because of the other Calif. State budget cuts in programs such as Matriculation, EOPS, and CalWORKs. As the CalWORKs Counselor for the past 8 years, I know that we have had some 25-40 of our students each year participating in the ACCESS Program and it has been invaluable for them.

-Bob Miller, Counselor 1992-present; CalWORKs Counselor 2002-present; Dept. Chair Counseling 2002-2010; Mission College

The assistance ACCESS (TRIO/SSS) provides -- tutoring, scholarship application forms and a place for our students to “hang out” and receive peer support -- are what stand out for me personally. The extra attention our students receive is invaluable since CalWORKs, like most programs, is stretched with fewer staff and fewer dollars to provide even the most basic support our students so badly need.

-Donna Hale, CalWORKs Program Manager, Mission College

As the first director of the TRIO/SSS ACCESS program at Mission, I remember the great need at Mission College for this program. I remember many students who first came to the program with serious needs who eventually achieved AA degrees and went on to University.

There are many examples of ACCESS' support. One involves a student in his early forties who came to Mission so afraid of college that he never got past the first few interviews. He just didn't believe he could succeed. He was a student with learning disabilities as well as financial needs. Eventually, he received his AA at Mission, then his BA in English from San Jose State and transferred to a graduate school with the plan to teach English at the community college level.

There are so many students with math issues that require a lot of emotional as well as academic support that is not typically available at the college. Without ACCESS, many of them would never have graduated, much less transferred to a university.

I remember a student who had been accepted to Berkeley in Economics but was having trouble with her statistics class. Her teacher suggested that she reconsider her major. However, with support from ACCESS, the student went on to successfully transfer and graduate from Berkeley's Economics department.

The fact that our school's students are largely first-generation-to-college and low-income makes the ACCESS Program a very important resource for Mission students, especially in this economic downturn.

-Joni Johnson, Retired Counselor, Founding Director of TRIO/SSS ACCESS Program at Mission College

I joined the ACCESS Family in Spring of 2008. ACCESS staff taught me how to apply for scholarships. They opened a whole new horizon of hope. I was awarded several scholarships in the succeeding years that helped a lot in my studies and medical bills. I earned two certificates, one in Graphic Design and one in Graphic Arts. In the Spring of 2010, I graduated with an AS in Graphic Design and an AS in Graphic Arts with a GPA of 3.34. I was accepted for transfer to San Jose State University in Fall of 2010. I plan to earn a BFA in Illustration and Animation with a minor in Graphic Design. I would not have accomplished all these without the help of the ACCESS Program. They gave me the courage and strength to carry on. They taught me the tools to help me along the way. They guided me in my courses to get me where I wanted to go. They engulfed me in comforting hugs when the pressure got too much for me to handle.

ACCESS was my family. It is a friendly, supportive happy environment for people undergoing various challenges to heal, grow, share and excel. Through ACCESS, I met single parents rearing children while battling chronic diseases. There were young students from economically-challenged backgrounds, as well as returning students determined to turn their life around. Together we represent a motley group united by our desire to better ourselves to be proactive and productive citizens of our community and our country.

-Clarissa M-C., TRIO/SSS ACCESS Student

In May 2010, I achieved a life-long dream of walking across the stage and turning the tassel from right to left, something I would not be able to say if I had not had the care, support, and extra help of the TRIO/SSS ACCESS Program at the college. The staff of the ACCESS Program over the last year have been there for me not only for educational support but also for personal support. They saw me overcome being homeless, but not hopeless. They saw me through health problems. The program has a staff that becomes not only a mentor, but like a Mom for you: to lift you up when you are down and to give you a kick in the butt and say, “Hey, education is important.”

Here are some of the support services from ACCESS that have been a benefit for me:

Printing of homework: The cost of printing on campus is 15 cents per page. With term papers for several classes, you could be looking at an extra $200 a semester for printing.

Extra Counseling Services: These were a benefit not only on the personal level but also on the academic goal level.

Extra Tutoring Service: These services range from someone looking over a term paper or English paper to help with Math and overcoming math anxiety.

A place to relax in between class or to heat up lunch or grab a quick snack. A mentor and a friend.

-Artie L., TRIO/SSS ACCESS Student

ACCESS was the only reason why I ever felt like I belonged at Mission College. Once high school ended, I attended a community college without knowing one person at the school. Being new at any school can make one feel out of touch with where they are, but ACCESS was the one place at Mission College that gave a warm welcome. Since ACCESS holds a small number of students, they are able to give as much time and energy to every person they meet. They are a group of people who truly want to help make a student’s life easier. Their services include many helpful ways that have made my life easier as a student, such as the computers to print out homework before class or a quick chat with a counselor about which major is the best fit. If I went to a counselor I saw once or twice a school year, they wouldn’t remember my face, name, major, career goals or academics. I would have to summarize myself in twenty minutes (if I’m lucky) to a counselor I barely know. A counselor can’t advise someone they just met, but ACCESS gives counselors the time to get to know their students. Another useful service is being able to pick classes early to juggle work, family and academics. The rate of community college drop-outs is too high, but I believe programs like ACCESS give community college students hope and belief in themselves to get where they need to go. I know ACCESS has inspired me to go forth with my education and I know I’m not the only one.

-Amanda S., TRIO/SSS ACCESS Student

I've been going to Mission College for many years. Working full-time and being a student, this college was the most convenient in terms of location. The school is nice and clean and you can get to your class without having to walk for a mile from the parking lot. The staff is friendly and the small size of the school makes it easy for you to get help and build relationships with your instructors and the other staff. Anyhoo, this is a great school, lots of online classes and most the school's student population are really serious about school. It is also in a nice location in the middle of Silicon Valley. PS. If you ever get in ACCESS, Michele Hittleman, counselor, is awesome. She has really contributed in my success here. I highly suggest you get in that program if you are eligible. It makes life here so much easier!

-Sherri L., TRIO/SSS ACCESS Student

I attended Mission College and graduated with two AAs: one in Natural Science and Mathematics and another one in Biology. I am in the process of transferring, I will be going to UCSC in the Fall of 2014. Thank you so much for all the help and support ACCESS gave me! It truly was a blessing to be part of the program since I was constantly being encourage by amazing people, thank you!

- Edith C., TRIO/SSS ACCESS Student

Certainly, as a counselor for the past 5 years at Mission, I have heard numerous anecdotes from students who were so grateful to ACCESS for the extra support they needed to succeed in college. From the computers/printers they can use to the warm welcome they receive from the director, counselors, and the other ACCESS staff, they have found a safe "home" away from home to continue their education. Speaking from the counseling perspective, first generation college students need the most assistance to navigate through the college process.

-Thuy Thang, Counselor, Mission College

Thank you, Jackie, Jenny, Michelle, and Richard for all your help. ACCESS and all of you mean the world to me. I just purchased books for fall quarter at CSUEB. I'm excited. I couldn't be in this four-year degree program without all of your guidance.

-Brian C., TRIO/SSS ACCESS student

ACCESS has been my guidance counselor helping me every step of the way with my education plans. Also, during a time when my financial aid was suspended, and my appeal denied, it was Charity, David, and Michele who said "do not give up". I didn't. They spent two hours with me on my letter to the appeals board. My financial aid was reinstated within a week. I am evidence that this program works. It's crucial to the success of many college students that otherwise may not have pursued college in the first place. ACCESS is the hope and support that so many of us need.

-Melinda W., TRIO/SSS ACCESS Student

As a reading instructor, working with at-risk students, I have seen the direct impact the Mission College ACCESS program has had on student success in my classroom. Charity Bowles has created an ACCESS program that is responsive to student needs, that empowers students, and reaches out to instructors and other student services. I know of students who would not have passed my classes without the aid that Charity and ACCESS has offered.

-Aaron Malchow, Reading Instructor, Mission College

ACCESS has contributed a tremendous amount of help, encouragement, and resources that has led to a successful fulfillment of my education plan. The counseling that ACCESS provided played a major role in my goals being reached. Michele Hittleman helped me research schools, take the proper courses, and many other things. When she was not available, Charity Bowles took the time out of her busy schedule to help me. Not only was the counseling great, there were many other resources that were necessary to use on a daily basis. I was always able to use the internet and print free of charge. Being enrolled in many science courses required me to do this daily. I received a couple of scholarships through ACCESS. That’s another thing that I am very thankful for: ACCESS always encourages and helps their students to apply for scholarships. If it weren’t for ACCESS, I would never have applied.

-Steve C., TRIO/SSS ACCESS Student

Many of my Library 10 students are typically students who plan to get their degrees and/or transfer to a four-year college. They are also frequently students who are not comfortable with technology or who have difficulty with classes for some reason – learning disabilities, language problems, etc. Many of these students have been helped by ACCESS. Last Winter, I had two students in particular who were part of the ACCESS program. Both of them are single mothers and had learning disabilities. They were smart, intelligent young women who were trying to get a leg up in the world by coming back to college to improve their chances of supporting their kids. Without the help and encouragement of the ACCESS program, they would not have been able to make it through the class. ACCESS gave them help by providing the resources they needed to keep up with the class. The services ACCESS provides make a huge difference to these students.

-Cathy Cox, Librarian, Mission College

ACCESS has been an enormous part of my college experience, giving me confidence, a place of refuge, and a transitional resource for me to be able to transfer to San Jose State University with ease. I was encouraged by ACCESS to sign up for the ASPIRE program at SJSU, which is similar to the ACCESS program. I’m very grateful for the visions that come out of ACCESS that reaches us the students in ways that no other program has, which takes us from college life to life itself. ACCESS assures that students have the assistance, direction, guidance, and confidence that is needed to survive in college. Workshops are another resource that ACCESS provides students with; the knowledge to get ahead and make our lives easier outside of campus. This program makes a huge difference to us students. I was a student of ACCESS and a single mom, and the ACCESS program provided a place I could feel comfortable and safe. The ACCESS program doesn’t discriminate and tries to reach as many students as they can by having resources of information that will take us students further then we thought was possible, a place where we feel that little extra push to succeed in our future endeavors.

-Melissa R., TRIO/SSS ACCESS Student


The TRIO ACCESS program has helped me in a lot of ways. Were it not for the care and concern of the staff for students, I would have never been able to achieve 3 scholarships and that was a big step for me. As a Veteran, I felt very welcome in the program and I learned several things from the program in regards to hunting for the right position in the field of employment, how to market myself, and more. I also got to know some of the other students that I otherwise would have never come in contact with.

-Earl H., TRIO/SSS ACCESS Student

TRIO/SSS ACCESS has been at Mission College for many years and the students have benefited from the services. As the Coordinator of the Disability Instructional Support Center, I am astutely aware of the educational support students with disabilities require to be successful with college careers. Mission College ACCESS has maintained a continual backing and bolstered students’ self-value.

Student barriers to success are identified as lack of confidence, insufficient academic preparation, low grades and lack of self-determination skills. ACCESS has tutored, assisted, supported, mentored, counseled, and taught students with disabilities who participate in the ACCESS program. There have been many success stories because of ACCESS; our department has witnessed them.

ACCESS is indispensable for students who are of low income, first in family to attend college, or have a disability. Too often the students with disabilities have a lower income than the general population. The effectiveness that ACCESS has had on these students has been amazing. The students believe that they are capable of getting a diploma; they believe that they are worthy of an education; they believe they are a contributing member of our society! 

-Helen Ostrander, Former Coordinator, Disability Instructional Support Center (DISC), Mission College