Bringing Community Into Community College

In the 1920s, philosopher John Dewey said, “Education Needs to start with the student’s neighborhood. Education needs to start where the students are able. Which is their homes and communities and neighborhoods.” And that’s exactly what Chabot’s Student Initiative Center (SIC) is all about. SIC is a student based center that supports the different clubs, events, and students at Chabot. As well as supporting, various organizations around the Hayward area.

Advised by Sean McFarland and Eric Heltzel, the center is mostly student ran. Students at Chabot come together to create these events and projects to help improve their own lives, the community, and the campus. Showing deep empathy for the different social issues that surround our community. “When the students are ready to pick up the hammer the teacher should be there to pick up the nails. We’re there to support, encourage, and help them achieve their passion”, Eric Heltzel said when hearing his students come up with these different ideas. The center is created for students, by the students.

In 2013, before SIC became what it is today, it first started as the Passion and Purpose class. As the Passion and Purpose classes were just getting started, Chabot student, Skye Ontivero created a film entitled, “The Passion Project.” A documentary that explores how colleges, can be the best support for students and how the relationship between your passion and your commitment to the community, whether it enables you to follow your passion or not. As in the Passion and Purpose class, it is now designed to not only help students discover their true passion but also to help their community.

SIC has become one of the first spaces that a community college has to offer. Where a center at a community college is able to help the city and Chabot’s students. Chabot College’s SIC offers different resources for students and teachers. Offering professional development for teachers on project-based learning (which will be from June 7 to June 8). However, for students, SIC allows groups of students into their center to help them finish their group projects. No campus provides this kind of support for their students. They want to teach their students the importance of project-based learning, and how effective it can be.

Now the Student Initiative Center is going more outside of Chabot College, working to help improve South Hayward. They have also gone above and beyond to bring aid and relief to people in Japan and the Middle East.

One of the most important things for a community college is to have a community. Not just within the college but also the communities that surround the college. Which is why SIC has decided to make it their mission to go outside of the college and support the cities around the Bay Area (Oakland, Fremont, Union City, Castro Valley, etc.). They will go anywhere and everywhere as long as a community needs help and support. Stating that “every school should be involved in their community.”

To learn more about the Student Initiative Center, go to The SIC meets every Thursday at 3:00 and every Friday at 11 in room 2338.

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