Mid Valley News: Achieving the California Dream through Education

August 3, 2016

By Sophia Lu

San Gabriel Chamber of Commerce and University of the West held a free education forum featuring elected officials.

On Saturday, July 30th, community members gathered at University of the West for an education forum. Guest speakers, former Assembly Member and Vice President of the Los Angeles Community College District Mike Eng, State Senator Dr. Ed Hernandez, O.D., and State Assembly Member Ed Chau took the stage to speak about the importance of education and reflect on their own educational journey.

Senator Ed Hernandez shared his story of being the first in his family to attend college and the hardships and uncertainties he faced. Hon. Mike Eng and Assembly Member Ed Chau are both first generation immigrants and shared the struggles they endured. All speakers recognize the impact education has on society and are strong advocates for higher education.

“Education is going to change our communities,” stated Hon. Mike Eng “We need schools that can teach for the jobs that are out there.”

Assembly Member Ed Chau touched on the financial incentive in pursuing higher education by providing U.S. Census Bureau statistics. On average, individuals with high school degrees earn $28,000, college degrees earn double at $58,000, and graduate degrees earn $79,000-$80,000.

Several audience members expressed concern that the average time students take to complete undergraduate degrees has increased from 4 years to 6 years. Assembly Member Ed Chau believes there are limited facilities and an increasing number of students at public institutions.

Current University of the West MBA student, Joven Ng, voiced the difficulties he faced when he attended a local community college and suggested mandatory orientation for all incoming freshmen and sophomores at community colleges. The speakers unanimously agreed mentorship and guidance are crucial to student success.

University of the West, a liberal arts college with a unique, Buddhist-inspired educational philosophy, has been serving the greater San Gabriel Valley for over 25 years. The San Gabriel Chamber of Commerce was incorporated nearly 70 years ago and provides support and services to San Gabriel business owners and members. The partnership between these two institutions aims to provide educational and cultural opportunities to improve the local community and the local economy.