Cerritos College was Sunny Saldana's life before the pandemic hit. From 8 a.m. until 7 p.m., the 29-year-old mother could be found at her job on campus or studying. When the campus closed because of COVID-19, support and aid from the school kept her on track to graduate.
Community colleges have a long history of helping some of today's most vulnerable students weather life-changing circumstances. The pandemic was no exception. Two-year institutions worked quickly to keep learning intact, pivoting to drive-through food banks and community partnerships.
In this interview, Grand Valley State University's Philomena Mantella discusses her role as president during a pandemic, the importance of digital engagement, and the decision-making behind rolling out specific programs that provide a return on investment for students and employers alike.