Lifelong learning is success

Keith Montes, Senior staff writer

Student success is abundantly greater than the narrow definition created by the state’s task force. While sitting on the student government board and various college committees throughout my years at the college, I have grown particularly exhausted of hearing this narrow definition of student success only applying to transfers, certificates and degrees.

Lifelong learning is the continual process of developing knowledge and skills for one’s career growth and personal life fulfillment. Restrictive repeatability laws passed by the state have now created major barriers for students who wish foster their ongoing educational aspirations.

Ironically, Diablo Valley College’s current mission statement says, “Diablo Valley College … promotes personal growth and lifelong learning.” However, no where in the strategic plan of the college is there a strategy for implementing lifelong learning. There have historically even been conversations on considering removing this from the mission statement.

Community college was designed for all members of the community to learn during any time of their life. Taking a pottery, dance or music course every semester for five years if one so chooses is also what this system was designed to support.

The first course I took at DVC was when I had no plans to pursue a four-year degree. I am half Peruvian and had always wanted to learn how to dance salsa. Family parties had been awkward at times since I was only one of a few who had no idea what to do on the dance floor.

I took Beginning Latin and Salsa and walked away with an A grade. While attending a family party soon after this, I was able to keep up with my cousins and aunts. They usually held the record for cutting up the dance floor for hours on end. I had transcended from being a sideline observer to a participant.

Connecting with this part of my heritage by embracing the culture of Latin dance provided me the intrinsic value of affirming a part of my personal identity of being a second-generation immigrant.

Learning to dance over a summer was my student success. It wouldn’t be until two years after this that I would begin my degree and transfer journey at DVC.

Repeatability Laws which restricts a community college student from effectively pursuing a lifelong academic career need to be reversed. As a musician of over 25 years, there is still much for me to learn in the unlimited area of music education such as theory, production and  performance. Limiting enrollment in courses such as the arts restricts human knowledge and potential.

Contacting your local CA state legislators by mail, phone, email and in person to advocate for the reversal of repeatability laws is how we may begin to make change.

My story of personal success is unfortunately one of many which go unrecognized. Unless this system is able to identify, measure and quantify the true benefits of lifelong learning outcomes, they will continue to diminish the voluminous meaning of student success and overall human potential.