Santa Ana College Honors Transfer Program Opens Doors to Opportunities
Growing up, Santa Ana College (SAC) honors alum Darryl King would watch his grandmother create collages at her kitchen table. It’s what she knew, and it’s what he soaked in as a child. Without realizing it, those moments of observation and interaction would later serve to launch his “artivist,” or art activist, career.
As a teen, King was determined to go to a four-year university, and he wanted to do it the most cost-effective way. There was just one thing he wasn’t willing to do: take the SATs. During a class at Santiago High School in Santa Ana, he learned about SAC’s Honors Transfer Program and how he could bypass the SATs and transfer to a UC in two years—just the right fit for this student’s college road map. After graduating from high school, he enrolled at SAC and two years later, after completing the Honors Transfer Program, King transferred to University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in art history in 2008, and later his master’s in education, also from UCLA.
“The Honors Transfer Program gave me structure,” reflects King. “I met with counselors and professors who cared about me, and helped me navigate.” He liked the class size, too. “The honors classes were so small that I got to know some really good people.” He met his best friend through the program, they transferred together to UCLA, and today continue being best friends.
Today, the mixed media artist creates his works in his North Hollywood studio. When he’s not creating, he’s teaching after-school educators how to teach core subjects like math, language arts, and science. ”We all grow up as artists,” reflects King. “What we do to keep or maintain that sense of wonderment is what determines whether we stay on that artist track.” The artist works with magazine cutouts, sculpted and painted surfaces, and found materials to create large-scale collages, or what he refers to as flat sculptures.
King, who signs his artwork as FOREMOST, also creates art for public spaces. The 28-year-old’s art is a voice for recent national movements drawing attention to social injustice. More recently, he created sidewalk chalk drawings in front of the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters to protest the death of a young black man shot and killed by police. His public art also benefits charities. This past summer, King was selected among local and nationally-acclaimed visual artists nationwide to design a 10-foot-tall guitar sculpture, paying homage to a musician of the artist’s choice, on the legendary Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. Known as GuitarTown, the public arts project features over 25 fiberglass Gibson Les Paul model guitars in cities around the country. King’s guitar, titled “Minneapolitian,” paid tribute to musician Prince with a dove, reflecting the “when doves cry” influence, on the front, purple rain drops draping the neck, and the recording artist’s trademark signature on the back. Each year, Gibson auctions the guitars donating 100 percent of the proceeds to a local charity in each GuitarTown city.
But not all honors students are created equal. Just ask SAC’s Honors Transfer Program Coordinator Kathy Patterson. If King was the SAC honors student with a plan, Silvia Gonzalez was the accidental SAC honors student. “My favorite kind of honors student is created when a student gets into an honors class because it was the only one that fit into their schedule, and he or she had a 3.0 GPA and figured ’why not,’ and did well,” shares Patterson. “Suddenly, aspirations get born, and the student is off and running.”
As an incoming freshman to SAC in 2011, Gonzalez had low priority enrollment. The only two classes that were available were English Honors and Honors Anthropology. “I took a chance and enrolled,” says Gonzalez. “I’m so glad I did because the Honors Transfer Program at SAC positively impacted my life in more ways than one,” she attests. For starters, being part of the Honors Program made it easier for Gonzalez to get the classes she wanted, and she was able to transfer to the University of California, Irvine (UCI) through University Link (U-Link), the college’s program that offers guaranteed admission to UCI. Though nervous and scared that her education wasn’t up to par with UCI and that she might fail miserably, Gonzalez soon realized that the Honors Transfer Program prepared her for the workload and pace of the UC system. Currently a social ecology major at UCI, this past summer, she participated in a research program in Australia to learn about water quality and sustainability. She’s an intern at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), on target to graduate this June in the top 15 percent of her class, and is applying to law school in the fall focusing on either environmental or water law.
According to Patterson, the biggest benefit of the program is that students complete the program with confidence. Additionally, their university study skills have sharply increased. SAC’s Honors Transfer Program also offers close interaction with faculty, scholarship eligibility, and transfer agreements with 13 four-year institutions that offer minimally priority admission, and in some cases guaranteed admission. Some of those universities include California State University, Fullerton (CSUF), UCI, UCLA, USC, Chapman University, Pomona College, and San Diego State University.
“In Santa Ana, a lot of students don’t think of being part of an honors program,” shares Patterson. “Or, they don’t think that earning a four-year degree is an option.” She has seen families being grateful for and encouraged by the doors that SAC’s Honors Transfer Program has opened. And for Patterson, it’s the opening of these opportunities that make her job worthwhile.
To learn more about SAC’s Honors Transfer Program, or to become a member, students can submit an application package available online at www.sac.edu/honors or email SAC Honors Transfer Program Coordinator Kathy Patterson or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.