The Cultural Centers for Academic Excellence (CCAE) at Cal Poly Humboldt (CPH) have gained three academic advisors to help support the academic, personal and career growth of students.
The CCAE are programs on campus that help students find a community away from home. The centers have designated advisors that assist students’ in reaching their goals and navigating college. The advisors take the time to ensure that they are available to offer students a support system. They help students get in touch with departments and offices on campus, find resources, jobs, and community.
Brianna Rodriguez — El Centro Académico Cultural (El Centro)
At El Centro, Rodriguez has an open door policy and encourages everyone to stop by her office for a chat and some snacks. Rodriguez helps students get to graduation along with what to do after. She writes students letters of recommendation, helps them find jobs, fill out job applications and practice talking to people to develop essential life skills.
“For my students it’s just getting them where they need to be, it’s not even just getting your degree but learning the life skills that you’re gonna take with you outside of your education,” Rodriguez said. “You get a degree but what do you do with it after?”
Rodriguez is a first generation Latina from Coachella Valley. In 2017, a running scholarship took her to University of Notre Dame as a psychology major until an unfortunate injury took her down a different path. In 2020, Rodriguez graduated from CPH.
“You are welcome to come for whatever reason, I am here, we are here to help you,” she said. “We’re not just here to help you academically, we’re here to help you in life, culturally as well.”
Harrel Deshazier III — Umoja Center for Pan African Student Excellence (Umoja Center)
Deshazier’s office is decorated with Beyonce posters, a pride flag hanging behind their desk and a cork board with past students’ graduation cards. Deshazier has had various advisor and mentor positions, some being with Humboldt Orientation Program (HOP), Retention through Academic Mentoring Program (RAMP) and the Education Opportunity Program (EOP).
“That’s the biggest reward that I get, whenever a student is thanking me for whatever,” Deshazier said. “I never fail to remind them that look, you did the work, I just was supporting you.”
They came to Humboldt from Los Angeles in 2013 and graduated from CPH with a psychology degree in 2017. After graduation, they continued working in programs geared towards students personal and academic success until starting as an academic advisor for the Umoja center in July 2022.
Deshazier encourages students to ask themselves: “What are you missing and how can we provide that?” Deshazier wants their students to be proud of their accomplishments and makes sure of that by reminding students that they did the work. They can help you not just academically but also in personal development and finding a community.
“They use something called intrusive advising which is really going beyond just emailing you, I’m gonna call you, I’m gonna send you a text, if I’m not hearing from you I may show up at your dorm–it’s really just about being connected,” Deshazier said.
Rose Gibbens — Native American Center for Academic Excellence (ITEPP)
Gibbens office is inviting and adorned with notes and pictures from her daughter. Gibbens makes the effort to make sure her students know she is committed to their success. She has physically walked students to places on campus to make sure they are getting the services that they need.
“I really just want to do for students what was done for me when I came here, ‘cause the reality was if it wasn’t for ITEPP there’s a very good chance that I would not have stayed,” Gibbens said.
Gibbens grew up on Yurok Reservation, she has been working in education for the reservation and Humboldt for as long as she could remember.
“If I can help them navigate services whether it be financial aid, whether it be cashiers, whether it be CARE [Campus Assistance, Response, and Engagement], whatever, we’re gonna not only tell them where it’s at, we’re gonna show them where it’s at,” Gibbens said.
If students are not sure where to start or not sure what they will get out of advising Gibbens encourages you to, “Just come see us” before deciding if it’s the right fit for you.