Information provided by J. Rodriguez
In January of 1997, Gavilan College Hollister, opened its doors to around 300 students at the Briggs Building with 5 classrooms, including a computer lab.
“I can still remember the lobby flooded with students wanting to register for courses in Hollister and how excited they were to see an actual site where they could take courses without having to travel to the Gilroy Campus,” said Judy B. Rodriguez, site director, who was hired to run the site and celebrating her 25th work anniversary as well.
The Briggs building was a hub for taking English as a Second Language classes along with computers and some general education courses such as math, political science and Spanish. Morning and evening courses were offered to provide students choices at different times to meet their schedule.
With the hiring of Rodriguez, came the opportunity for the Briggs building to offer student support services, such as admission and records, financial aid, tutoring, library resources and counseling.
Rodriguez stated, “That was the time of paper applications and manual data entry, I remember the stacks of applications I had to enter into the system which became quite a task at times.”
Managing the building, the courses and registrations were not a one-person job yet Judy did it for 10 years and always with a smile, until the college hired an assistant to help her.
“I was thrilled when the college approved to hire Program Services Specialist, Natalie Miranda Juarez, to help me. This meant I could do more outreach and get involved in the community we serve and most importantly better serve our students,” said Rodriguez.
Natalie retired in May 2014 and now holding the new titled position of site specialist is Josie Olivares, providing excellent customer service.
Gavilan College has held the San Benito County residents a priority and why not as Gavilan began here in 1919, known as the San Benito Junior College before moving to the site in Gilroy in 1963, now known as Gavilan Community College.
The college, however, never stopped offering courses in San Benito County, whether it be at the local schools or Hollister Airport and other locations throughout San Benito County. Even when the pandemic started the college immediately transitioned to online model so that students would continue to receive an education.
“Both Josie Olivares, site specialist and myself enjoy serving the community we live in, from helping students sign up for school to providing them resources to help them reach their educational goal,” said Rodriguez.
The Gavilan College at Briggs Building aims to be a “one-stop shop” providing courses, student support services, and working with local agencies such as the San Benito Community Foodbank who provides bags of food once a month to students in need.
Also, within the last few years a welcome center run by peer mentors was incorporated to help assist students in the areas of admissions, financial aid and resource information.
Before COVID, the Briggs building was serving around 1,200 students during Spring and Fall semesters and offering courses in administration of justice, accounting, communications, computers, ESL, health education, history, english, math, philosophy, political science, psychology, sociology, and Spanish to name a few. As well as, offering student services in admissions, financial aid, library resources, tutoring and counseling services in the areas of academic, AEC & EOPS/CalWorks.
Having been shut down for almost 2 years due to the COVID pandemic, Gavilan College, Briggs re-opened its doors in July 2021 and is slowly building up Student Services and the course schedule to welcome students back into face-to-face courses and walk-in services. Academic counseling is now also available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
“We want students to feel safe knowing they can come back to class in a positive learning and healthy environment,” Rodriguez said.
In an effort to keep students and colleagues safe during these uncertain times all students seeking face-to-face courses are required to be vaccinated and information can be uploaded through their student portal. A mask is required when entering the building and a check-in system has been put in place.
Office hours are currently, Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Fridays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Online courses are also being offered for those who are not vaccinated and registration can be obtained online at www.gavilan.edu.
Spring registration is now ongoing and the semester started on Jan. 31.
As we look to the future Rodriguez and staff hope to continue providing quality, inclusive and equitable service to the San Benito County Community.
Rodriguez stated, “It’s a team effort and we are fortunate to have caring faculty that work here like Christina Salvin who truly cares about the future of the Hollister site and the new site soon to be built across from Ridgemark with an educational program that students will be attracted to in order to accomplish their educational goals.”
With the passing of Measure X, a new Campus in San Benito County is being planned for and more information about that can be found at www.gavilanmeasurex.org. There you can sign up for the email newsletter to get updates.
Here’s to 25 years and many more!
For more information, please call our office at 831-636-3783.