Mentorship Program Successes
Privilege of Being a Union Mentor for a Counselor
By Hasan Zillur Rahim, SJCC Math Faculty
Valentin Garcia is a counselor with EOPS at San Jose City College (SJCC). This is his fourth year at SJCC but his first year in a tenure track position. I have the privilege of being his Union mentor this year on behalf of Union AFT 6157. After recently meeting with Valentin, I can sum up my impression of him in three words: Counselor par excellence!
Valentin has been working with students and their families for the past 18 years as an academic counselor. He has extensive experience developing and implementing college-readiness curricula for parents and students at Foothill College, San Jose State University and University of California, Santa Cruz.
Valentin won the 2016-2017 “Adjunct of the Year” award, as an EOPS adjunct faculty counselor at SJCC. He has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in counseling with a PPS Credential from San Jose State University.
“I love my job at SJCC,” Valentin said. “To be able to help others overcome life’s challenges, be it academic or personal, gives meaning to my own life.”
In our meeting, we discussed the importance of regularly visiting the new, user-friendly Union website http://aft6157.org/, filled with useful information about the rights and responsibilities of members.
The five categories the Union focuses its efforts on are “Advancing, Negotiating, Advocating, Educating and Promoting.” Because what the Union does is often behind the scene, Valentin and I agreed that we sometimes ignore and overlook the critical role it plays in our successes. That is why it is important that we visit the website at least once a week to keep abreast of the latest developments in education, negotiation and politics.
As a faculty, I concentrated my effort, until recently, on teaching and on trying out innovative methods for reaching students and getting the best out of them in the classroom. My focus was almost exclusively on academics. But in talking with Valentin and other counselors, it has dawned on me that I must look at students within a holistic framework. I must work not only as a teacher but also as a counselor, mentor and confidant to students.
When students visit Valentin in his office, he counsels them not only on academics and graduation pathways, but also on their hopes and aspirations. That way he develops a holistic view of them and is better able to inform them on the right choices to grow as a complete human being.
A synergy between faculty and counselors is critical to the success of our students, with suggestions and guidance always available from AFT 6157. It is an insight I could not have gained had I not been privileged as a Union AFT 6157 member to mentor one of our committed counselors, Valentin Garcia.