Compton College Helps Students Succeed Despite Obstacles

Graphic for F.I.S.T.(Formerly Incarcerated Student Transition) program

Sometimes people lose their way in life and need an opportunity to rebuild. Compton College is working to fulfill that need by offering opportunities and resources for students of all ages to get a quality education, especially those from underserved populations.

Compton resident and father to two young boys, Ramiro Moreno never really thought about going to college. Through a referral, he attended an information session at Compton College and enrolled in fall 2016. Moreno is from a family of eleven and only one sibling graduated from college. He says he will be the second. He originally dropped out of high school, but eventually earned his diploma from Cesar Chavez Continuation High School.

He is a kinesiology major who plans to graduate from Compton College with an associate degree and transfer to a four-year university to earn a bachelor's degree. He is considering his career options, which include becoming a physical therapist or personal trainer. In the past few years, he discovered he is passionate about working out and living a healthy lifestyle. "I used to be overweight and lazy," said Moreno. "My father has diabetes and I wanted to get healthy to prevent getting diabetes myself. My workouts and lifestyle change have helped me lose a lot of weight. I am sick less often and I have more energy. I'm very interested in studying kinesiology and continuing my health education – it motivates me."

Moreno is supported by Compton College's new program called F.I.S.T., (Formerly Incarcerated Student Transition). Founded less than a year ago, F.I.S.T. provides academic, social and economic support for students reentering the community after coming out of the justice system. There are 96 Compton College students enrolled in F.I.S.T and about a third are maintaining a GPA of 3.5 or higher. One student has already graduated from Compton College with an associate degree and transferred to a four-year university. Another student was awarded a $500 F.I.S.T scholarship.

The program helps students develop confidence in themselves and their abilities through regular support meetings, skills training and professional development, career counseling and entrepreneurship exploration, field trips, career workshops, and basic skills enhancement. Earlier this year, the program received the Dr. John W. Rice Diversity & Equity Award from the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges and the Foundation for California Community Colleges for its success in promoting student equity, diversity and access.

"F.I.S.T helps guide me. They helped me enroll at Compton College, register for classes, and apply for the Extended Opportunities Programs and Services, that provides counseling, book vouchers, and other kinds of assistance," said Moreno.

Moreno uses his positive attitude and determination to move forward and leave his past in the past. He believes it is important for his success, even when he faces difficulty. "Attending college can be as hard or as easy as you make it," he said. "It is easy for me because I'm interested in what I'm doing, and I want to prove that I am doing well now. My family is very supportive; my mom talks about me going to college and she is proud."

Moreno has also surprised himself in discovering things he does well. He likes to draw and is developing his artistic talent. He says he is good at math and, surprisingly, likes English. "Now that I'm taking college English classes, they don't seem as hard as they were for me in high school; maybe because I read a lot more than I used to."

He takes full advantage of all the student resources offered at Compton College to help him be successful and remove any barriers he may face. "I like Compton College because everyone is friendly and the instructors are very helpful."

For more information about the F.I.S.T. program, contact Student Services Advisor Joseph Lewis at 310-900-1600, ext. 2088.

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