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.”
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.
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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.