The laptops were provided through California Connects, a federally funded statewide program. Students receiving the laptops are also provided intensive outreach and hands-on training, enabling them to educate others and ultimately help increase the number of California broadband Internet users.
Twelve hours of community service is required of the recipients – training two family members and five people outside their family. The MESA students demonstrate how to navigate the Internet and use it for essential tasks such as securing gainful employment, exploring higher education opportunities, accessing health and finance resources, engaging with social networks and advancing the general quality of life. Last year’s student training efforts included a computer workshop on the campus in which they taught their parents how to use basic computing skills.
“I’m excited for our students and community,” said MESA Program Director Carol Hernandez. “This is the first time that most of the students who were awarded a laptop in exchange for community service have ever owned their own computer. These computers will benefit not only the students as they prepare to transfer, but their families and community.”
Liberty High School graduate Julio Perez is busy preparing for a career in computer engineering. He hopes to transfer to UC Davis or Sacramento State University. “This program is helping those who can’t afford to buy computers,” he said, “and expand people’s awareness of how to use them.” Perez intends to help his mother learn how to use the Web to research things online and to use e-mail. “I’d also like to help my friends at college who have challenges with computers and teach them PowerPoint, MS Word, or anything they might need to succeed in school.”
Another Liberty graduate, Arthur Corona, is studying to be an electrical engineer. Since he commutes by bus to LMC every day, he’s enthusiastic about using his laptop to work on his assignments in a mobile mode. For the training assignment, he plans to help his stepfather develop a website and train his landlords how to use the computer.
Freedom High School graduate Josephine Turner has set her sights on a career in biochemistry after transferring to Cal State East Bay and earning her bachelor’s degree. “This is pretty awesome,” she said. “I’m going to teach my older brother to use Excel and PowerPoint. He needs to know them both for his job. I have a friend here at LMC who doesn’t know how to use the computer very well – I plan to help her also.”
Additional details about the California Connects program are available at www.caconnects.org. For more information about LMC’s MESA program, visit www.losmedanos.edu/mesa.