A renewed appreciation for the humanities

A PATH event at San Diego City College. (Photo: SDCCD)

At San Diego Mesa College, a community college in the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD), faculty are actively planning various arts and humanities-related activities in response to the 36.1% increase of students majoring in English/humanities.

This upward trend, reflected in other higher education institutions, is definitely not just an exception.

Fowsiyo Osman, an English major planning to transfer to a four-year university after the spring 2023 semester says, “I have always been passionate about language and literature.” As a future middle school teacher, she wants to “share [her] love of language and literature with [her future] students.”

This article is an excerpt from the new issue of the Community College Journal, published by the American Association of Community Colleges.

Liam Weber, a second-year English major, aspires to be a writer.

“With the diversity of cultures and experiences between writers, the possibility for unique stories is limitless,” Weber says.

A PATH to the humanities

While fewer students than in years past are planning on majoring in the arts and humanities — in large part due to the continued emphasis on STEM fields — we believe that the Preparing Accomplished Transfers in the Humanities (PATH) program has helped staunch the flow of students abandoning fields that they love.

A collaborative program between SDCCD and UC San Diego School of Arts and Humanities, funded by the Mellon Foundation starting in 2016, PATH has resulted in a 78% transfer rate of arts and humanities majors. This rate doubles the regular transfer rate for SDCCD arts and humanities majors which was at 39% prior to PATH. In fact, the program has expanded opportunities for underrepresented minority students who are 63% of the students participating in this program.

One such student is Calvin Hill, an African-American community college student and future transfer to the University of California at San Diego. As a PATH mentee at San Diego Miramar College, Hill had regular, frequent meetings with a faculty mentor who connected him to opportunities and resources, such as financial support for a creative, scholarly project and information about scholarships. Hill received a scholarship to join the college’s Phi Theta Kappa honor society and was selected as a semifinalist for the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.

Throughout the academic year, Hill participated in cohort-based learning and support activities. Financial aid workshops, Careers in the Humanities and Arts panels and transfer preparation seminars offered both information and a sense of belonging. Most importantly, the relationship he built with his mentor is one he believes contributed to his greater confidence and success. Hill is grateful to “have someone in [his] corner!” Soon to be a junior at UCSD, he plans to study both economics and Spanish literature.

“Colleges should embrace the arts and humanities because it is an often undervalued area of study,” Hill says.

Read the full article.

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(From left) Drs. Carmen Carrasquillo, Kelly Mayhew and Pegah Motaleb are English professors and PATH coordinators at the San Diego Community College District in California.

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