This article ran in the VC Star on August 21, 2022.

Editor’s note: This is the first part of a two-part article on how community colleges partner with families and the community. The second part will run August 28, 2022.

By Julius Sokenu

As Moorpark College begins another academic year, I am reminded that Ventura County community colleges never truly take a summer break from fulfilling the year-round educational needs within our service area.

I am overjoyed our campuses are awash with new activities and new, younger faces over the summer. As president of Moorpark College, I see how our campus continues to play a vital role in the lives of some of our youngest community members with our Childhood Development Center, summer camps at America’s Teaching Zoo, biotech and theatre arts programs and high school technical career workshops. 

These enrichment opportunities happen because our community is eager and ready to engage with us as never before. As challenging as COVID-19 has been for all students and educators, cultivating and maintaining partnerships with community members and organizations continue to be some of the most important relationships we have. They point to how our colleges and community are stronger together.

Integral to this community-building is how Moorpark, Oxnard and Ventura colleges partner with high schools, community organizations and local industry to increase the number of young students being introduced to college programs. While community colleges consider the needs of each student, those with significant challenges benefit the most when they are introduced to our college and our programs at an early age. 

At Moorpark College, we serve a wide variety of students: English learners, socioeconomically disadvantaged, disabled, foster youth, homeless, first-generation and disproportionally impacted, among others. We tailor services to these populations to address their specific needs and help them realize their dreams, whether they are transferring to a four-year institution or finding meaningful employment in our community. 

Through dual enrollment, where high school students enroll in college classes, we see a greater number of high school students on our campuses. California has committed tremendous funding toward career education at high school and community college levels with the understanding that we will coordinate our efforts districtwide. 

Moorpark College offers more than 75 exciting career education (CE) programs, such as biotechnology, computer network systems engineering (CNSE), data science and engineering. Many of these programs are designed to assist underserved populations in helping them progress from high school through our colleges to gainful and rewarding employment. 

These partnerships also help older students reinvest in themselves to transition to high-tech, high-wage CE certificate programs at our colleges.  

Moorpark College hosts summer and community-based pre-college activities, and special attention is focused on preparing students to be college-ready. This helps close the achievement gap for minority and low-income students. 

Students are introduced to target programs in science and math classes through high school pathways. The goal of these programs is to make college less intimidating and to encourage confidence in attaining challenging and well-paid employment. 

Here are just a few of the programs that we offer:

  • Project MC2 — High school students begin pathways through existing science/math courses specifically aligned with college career courses and programs.
  • STEM Impacto program — Students are supported with peer and faculty mentors, dedicated academic counselors, workshops, paid internships and cash incentives. 
  • Safe Passages Youth Summer Camp — In partnership with the Conejo Recreation & Park District, this program provides students with guided college tours and workshops that utilize fun activities to explore high-wage, high-skill and in-demand careers. 

For students and families who think that college is a far-off dream, these programs offer a bridge to a new way of thinking about their future. I have seen this work in action at Moorpark College, and there is no greater or more exciting investment that we can make in the future of our community. 

Lives are changed when our community’s younger students explore the technologies, equipment and practices of high-wage careers. This is especially true for students who thought college was an unattainable dream, beyond their socioeconomic means to achieve.

This is the contribution of Moorpark College to our community. Hand in hand is the community’s contribution of support for introducing young students to the opportunities available on our campuses. 

Julius Sokenu, Ed.D., is the president of Moorpark College. To learn more about Moorpark College, visit

Moorpark College
District Office