Diana Rodriguez

Diana Z. Rodriguez, president of San Bernardino Valley College following her speech at the Highland Chamber on Wednesday, Nov.26.

Over 50 businesses gathered on Tuesday, Nov. 26, at Immanuel Baptist Church on Base line for the Highland Chamber of Commerce meeting.

At the meeting, three new businesses were added to the chamber, Jans Health Tans, Parkland Jewelry and Redeem CPR. It was also the annual Christmas Tree Auction where chamber members could bid on five decorated trees.

Diana Z. Rodriguez, president of San Bernardino Valley College (SBVC), was the featured speaker.

She said closing out the 2019-20 academic year 19,000 students have attended SBVC.

However, she said, an issue that is affecting the college is that they have “unofficially identified 300 students who are either homeless or home insecure [the lack of security in an individual shelter that is the result of high housing costs relative to income, poor housing quality, unstable neighborhoods, overcrowding and/or homelessness] and are hungry.”

Rodriguez says, “students don’t learn when they are hungry,” and “facility can’t teach students who are hungry.”

She says the college “has distributed over $17 million in financial aid to students just this past academic year,” and “has awarded $170,000 in scholarships to students” to address the homelessness issue.

Before the holidays in 2017, the college also opened a resource center that Rodriguez says “is really a food pantry.” She said “six months later they outgrew it” due to, “more of a need,” and they relocated the center to another part of the campus.

She added that Community Action Partnerships provides not only for the pantry, but toiletries and items for mothers.

The campus has two clothing closets, one that provides business attire for students who are going out to interview and find a job, so they have something they can feel comfortable and confident in, said Rodriguez.

The campus has also extended its gym hours so students can clean up and be comfortable in class.

Rodriguez also talked about the GenerationGo program Chancellor Bruce Baron announced earlier this year. She hopes to get 33,000 students enrolled in the program from San Bernardino County.

Following Rodriguez’s speech Chamber President Andrea De Leon offered to open up a clothing closet at the chamber office on 27255 Messina St.

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