Awards & Recognition


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President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll

April 2013

College of the Canyons was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for a seventh consecutive year. This year, College of the Canyons -- which has been included on the honor roll every year since its inception in 2006 -- is one of only 31 higher education institutions in the state to appear on the Honor Roll.


ASCCC Exemplary Program Award

January 2013

In January, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges named College of the Canyons’ Institute of Teaching and Learning (ITL) winner of the coveted 2008 Exemplary Program Award -- for its excellence in providing both full-time and adjunct faculty members with an innovative on-campus professional development program. As a result of winning the award, the college’s ITL received a $4,000 cash award sponsored by the Foundation for California Community Colleges.

aaculogo1aDeveloping a Community College Student Roadmap

January 2012

College of the Canyons has been selected as one of 10 community colleges from across the nation to participate in phase two of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) Developing a Community College Student Roadmap Project. The AAC&U’s Roadmap Project assists community colleges in creating academic support programs -- tied to expected learning outcomes -- that engage students at entrance and teach them, from the outset, how to become active partners in their own quest for educational success.


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CSU Long Beach 2013 Distinguished Alumna Award

May 2013

The California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) Alumni Association selected College of the Canyons Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook as its 2013 Distinguished Alumna for the College of Liberal Arts, in honor of her tremendous professional achievements, dedication to the field of education and ongoing contributions to the community. Dr. Van Hook was recognized May 9 alongside 21 fellow honorees selected by the Alumni Association Awards Committee. They include nine Distinguished Alumni, nine Outstanding Graduates (students), an Outstanding Professor and Outstanding Staff, as well as the recipient of the President’s Distinguished Service Award. Dr. Van Hook attended the CSULB College of Liberal Arts commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 23, in Long Beach, where she was recognized in front of the crowd of more than 9,500 graduates and guests.



Single Mothers Outreach Empowering Hearts Award

November 2012

Chancellor Dr. Dianne Van Hook was among 11 local women honored as “icons” for their hard work and dedication to upholding the values and vision of the Single Mother’s Outreach of Santa Clarita, during the organization’s 2012 Empowering HeArts event in November 2012.


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Future Business Leaders of America Club

November 2012

The COC FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) club participated California State FBLA Fall Business Leadership Conference on Saturday, November 10th in Sacramento, along with 200 FBLA members from the State. The club was awarded special recognition by the state organization for “Largest Increase in Chapter Membership for the Fall 2012 Semester.”

Speech Team

April 2013

The speech team won a college record five medals at the 2013 Phi Rho Pi National Speech Tournament at the Woodland Hills Marriott in April 2013. The team won one gold medal, one silver medal and three bronze medals.

March 2013

The speech team won a college record seven medals at the 2013 California Community College Forensics Association (CCCFA) State Tournament, held at the Woodland Hills Marriott on March 17. Over the four-day competition, the team combined to win two gold medals, four silver medals and one bronze. As a result of these tremendous individual achievements, the team was awarded 2nd place in the tournament’s Limited Entry Division (18 or fewer slots). The event also marked the first time COC has placed at the CCCFA state event, as well as the first individual gold medals taken home by COC at the tournament.

March 2013

The speech team won first place at the PSCFA Spring Champs Speech Tournament in the Limited Entry Division at California State University, Long Beach.

March 2013

The speech team took first place at the annual Pacific Southwest Collegiate Forensic Association (PSCFA) Spring Champs Speech Tournament’s Limited Entry Division, in addition to several individual awards. The event -- held at CSU, Long Beach -- marked several firsts for the COC team, including a college-record three individual first-place finishes by COC students Derek Isomaki (impromptu category), Shawn Kern (persuasive) and Hillary Philips (programmed oral interpretation). Philips also becomes the first COC competitor to qualify for the upcoming national tournament, primarily made up of competitors from four-year universities.

Phi Theta Kappa

March 2013

Phi Theta Kappa members Ryan Arroyo, Anthony Fernandez, Michael Kramer and Kathryn Webb were selected to be part of the All California Academic Teams. They were part of a group of 60 students selected from all community colleges in the state. This special award makes them eligible for great scholarships through Phi Theta Kappa and the Coca-Cola Foundation.

The Phi Theta Kappa chapter, under the leadership of biology instructor Miriam Golbert, traveled to the organization’s Nevada/California Regional Convention in Las Vegas, where the COC chapter received the following awards and/or recognition: first place (Honors in Action Research, third place (Honors in Action Project), third place (Distinguished Chapter Office Team), and Five Star Level status (the highest possible).

Model United Nations Team

April 2013

The COC Model United Nations team won four awards at the Model United Nations Conference hosted by UCLA. The conference included teams from Stanford, UC Berkeley and Princeton. A number of community colleges also fielded teams.

March 2013

Dr. Phil Gussin and the college’s Model UN (United Nations) Team traveled to Harvard University to participate in the team’s first national competition in March 2013. Of the more than 300 colleges and universities in attendance, COC was one of only four community colleges in the nation -- and the only one from California -- that participated. Despite not bringing home any awards, the team entered the competition very well prepared, and gained the notice and respect of several more experienced teams, all while displaying their Cougar Pride on a national stage.

March 2013

The team also participated in the Long Beach Intercollegiate Model United Nations (LBIMUN) Conference. Of the 10 awards given, the team won four awards.

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship

April 2013

COC student Kristina Smolenski was one of approximately 60 community college students across the nation to receive the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The award will provide Smolenski -- who was recently accepted to the University of Hawaii at Manoa -- with up to $30,000 per year to complete her bachelor’s degree at a four-year college or university. It's the largest private scholarship available to two-year and community college transfer students in the country. Students must be individually nominated by their institution and cannot apply directly. With her award, Smolenski (who is double majoring in art and biology) becomes the first COC student to receive this honor.

Culinary Arts

March 2013

A group of baking and pastry students in the college's culinary arts program won a first-place award in the 2013 Sweet Charity Cake Auction, hosted by the SCV Youth Project.

Sports Medicine Club

March 2013

On March 9, 2013 students from the college’s newly formed Sports Medicine Club traveled to CSU, Long Beach to participate in the Bailey Arnheim Games. At the event -- which serves as a sports medicine competition -- students were tested on their taping skills, injury evaluation practices and teamwork in completing a 40-yard dash, while carrying emergency equipment. Despite being the only community college to participate and competing against mostly juniors and seniors from surrounding four-year universities, the COC team earned a total of nine awards (including three first place finishes) in categories including ‘tape relay,’ ‘ankle tape off,’ ‘super relay’ and ‘upper extremity evaluation.’

Sociology Book Awards

March 2013

Jonathan Almarez won first place in the 17th Semi-Annual Sociology Book Award for his article: “An Analysis of J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace by Means of Hybridity, Ambivalence, and Feminism. Alexjandro Castro won second place for “Farm Workers: A Case of Injustices,” and Ryan Joslin won third place for his essay, “Do You Know What You’re Eating for Dinner?”


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Medical Lab Technician Program

April 2013

The COC Medical Lab Technician (MLT) program’s media piece won 3rd place in a nationwide competition that was part of the National Lab Professionals Week. The competition was sponsored by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). The theme for the contest was “Igniting the Spark in Lab Science.”

Watch the video

Music Department

April 2013

COC Jazz ensembles Just Jazz and House Blend were accepted to the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival where they won two outstanding soloist awards and a third place trophy for “Just Jazz.”

April 2012

The college’s vocal jazz choir, Just Jazz, placed third among a field of six college jazz choirs from across the nation during the prestigious Next Generation Jazz Festival in Monterey March 30 to April 1. Just Jazz soloist Natalie Mendoza received the competition’s Outstanding Soloist trophy.

Small Business Development Center

January 2013

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at College of the Canyons held its annual Young Entrepreneur Program (YEP) business plan contest in December, with a number of winning entries coming from current and former College of the Canyons and Academy of the Canyons students. Business plans were judged based on a written plan and verbal "pitch" presentation, with the top winners taking home cash prizes and moving on to the statewide YEP business plan competition in Sacramento in May. In the category for those age 18 to 27, the award for Best Overall Plan went to COC students Joseph Homayouni and Victoria Rodriguez. The award for Best Written Plan went to COC student Brandon Mims, while the award for Best Pitch went to a two-student team led by COC graduate Sheena Marie Streling.

Public Information Office

April 2013

The Public Information Office took home three awards at the 2013 Community College Public Relations Organization (CCPRO) annual competition: 1st place for Print Advertising, 2nd place for Logo Design and 1st place in the Wild Card category for the PAC mid-season calendar.

April 2012

The Public Information Office took home a record-setting number of awards at the Community College Public Relations Organization (CCPRO) annual competition. Awards were handed out to recognize the very best in print publications, advertising, public relations/communications, electronic media and visual arts projects. In all, the college came away with 17 awards in 12 categories, while collecting seven first-place awards and sweeping two entire categories -- the most the department has ever won in a single year.


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Chelley Maple and Garrett Hooper


Matriculation Director Chelley Maple and Counselor Garrett Hooper were named winners of a 2011 California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Technology Focus Award, for their collaboration in developing the college’s online, interactive student learning resource known as the Virtual learning Lab (VLL). Annually presented at the Chief Information Systems Officers Association (CISOA) conference, the Technology Focus Award recognizes excellence that evolves out of a comprehensive planning process closely linked to the institution’s mission and vision for the future. The award commends strategic and integrated uses of technology that empower faculty and/or students through sources that are within reach of all campus constituents, and often the wider community.

Jasmine Foster and Bruce Fortine


Jasmine Foster (PIO) and Bruce Fortine (COC Board member) were named Santa Clarita Unsung Heroes by radio station KHTS AM-1220.

Phil Gussin


Political Science instructor and longtime UCLA lecturer Phil Gussin received the 2012 My Last Lecture Award from UCLA. Organized by the Alumni Scholars Club, the My Last Lecture Award is the only faculty award at UCLA selected entirely by the student body. It began 50 years ago when notable UCLA professors (including legendary basketball coach John Wooden) put all of their life lessons and advice for students into one “last lecture.” (April 2012)

Michael Gunther

April 2012

Michael Gunther, assistant director of information technology, was selected as a recipient of the 2012 Campus Technology Excellence Award from the California Community College Chief Information Systems Officers Association (CISOA) for his outstanding work in bringing server virtualization to the college. This award recognizes IT staff members who have demonstrated excellence at their district or college through technological advancements. Gunther received his award on March 19 at the CISOA Annual Conference in Ontario.

Suzanne Maihori

May 2012

Adjunct EMT instructor Suzanne Maihori was recognized as the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Nurse of the Year during a ceremony held at the L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting. In addition to teaching at COC, the 30-year registered nurse has served as the L.A. County Fire Department’s senior nursing instructor for the past four years.

Rita Garasi

January 2013

During a special “Meet and Greet” reception held prior to the Dionne Warwick concert on Jan. 13, Rita Garasi was recognized with a special proclamation from Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction, for her tireless efforts as chair of the PAC K-12 Arts Education Outreach Program to further arts education in Santa Clarita Valley schools.


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Men's Golf

May 2013

The College of the Canyons men's golf team topped off an amazing season with a state title at the 36-hole California Community College Athletic Associations Men's Golf State Championship.

Men's Basketball

May 2013

Men’s Basketball Coach Howard Fisher has been announced as one of five finalists for the 2013 Red Auerbach College Coach of the Year Award. The award is given annually to the nation’s top Jewish college coach, as voted on by the members of the Jewish Coaches Association (JCA). Joining Coach Fisher will be fellow nominees: Keith Dambrot, Univ. of Akron; Ryan Marks, Univ. of Texas-Pan American; Josh Schertz, Lincoln Memorial Univ.; and Jeff Klein, Chaffey College. The winner will be presented at this year's NCAA Final Four in Atlanta.

March 2013

The men's basketball team finished its 2012-13 conference season with a 9-1 record, becoming the champion of the Western State Conference South Division. The conference title marked the first for the program since 2007. The team earned the No. 6 seed in the Southern California Regional Playoffs, defeating Allan Hancock College 71-68 on March 1 before falling to No. 3 seed Mt. San Antonio College 93-85 on March 6.

December 2012

The men's basketball team secured a third-place finish at the 61st Annual Gregg Anderson Memorial Tournament at Antelope Valley College this past weekend. The Cougars captured the third-place victory by beating Glendale College 90-74 on Sunday. The team vanquished Mira Costa College 81-77 in the opening game on Friday, then fell to Pierce College 72-60 on Saturday. (December 2012)

Women's Golf

January 2012

COC women's golfer Kristin Grimes turned in a score of 75 in the first round of the California Community College Athletic Associations Women's Golf State Championship tournament at Temecula Creek Inn Resort to lead the field, but went on to card a 79 in the second round to drop to fourth place with a 36-hole total score of 10-over-par 154 (75-79). Grimes, the 2011 individual state champion and 2012 Southern California Champion, actually completed the tournament tied for third with Glendale's Pattraporn Silawanna. However, both players posted two-day totals of 154 with Silawanna earning the advantage on a card-off from the back nine (40-41), which dropped Grimes to fourth place. Despite not winning the state title for the second consecutive year, Grimes was still named to the All-State team as a result of her strong finish.

January 2012

The College of the Canyons women's golf team shot a two-round total of 622 (314-308) during the Cougar's two-day North-South Invitational in Morro Bay on Monday afternoon, to finish in first place in the 16-team field. COC shot a season-best 308 in Monday's second round, to beat conference foe and second-place finisher Glendale College by one stroke. Kris Grimes, the defending individual state champion, turned in a 149 (76-73) and Madison Lomas carded a 152 (76-73) to finish in a tie for second place. The Cougars will return to action on Wednesday, Oct. 10, as they host the conference tourney at Simi Valley Golf Course.

Women's Soccer

September 2012

The women’s soccer team entered the national rankings this week as the No. 9 team in the country, according to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). It marks the first time that the Cougars are making an appearance in the rankings under head coach Justin Lundin.

Track & Field

August 2012

Volunteer assistant track coach and U.S. Track & Field hurdler Lashinda Demus earned the first Olympic medal of her career, posting a time of 52.77 seconds in the 400-meter hurdles to bring home the silver medal. Despite running a very strong race, Demus crossed the finish line just 0.07 seconds behind gold medal winner Natalya Antyukh of Russia.

May 2012

The track and field team set records and won titles at the California Community College Track and Field State Championship at Cerritos College May 18 and 19. Following the team's most successful season to date, Canyons broke four college records and brought home an individual state championship in the process. Sophomore Chris Low, who has dominated the 800-meter event during his COC career, capped off another phenomenal season by winning his second 800-meter state championship in as many years. Low posted a college record time of 1:49.16 to win his second consecutive title, becoming the only COC student athlete in college history to win his/her event's state title -- in any sport -- for two consecutive seasons. He finishes his career at College of the Canyons as the most decorated track and field student-athlete in college history, while earning the men's track and field program its fourth individual state title.

Strength & Conditioning

May 2012

Robert dos Remedios, head strength and conditioning coach has been named a Master Strength and Conditioning Coach by the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches association (CSCCa). This prestigious honor -- which is the highest title given in the strength and conditioning coaching profession -- was bestowed on "Coach Dos" during an awards ceremony at the CSCCa’s National Conference at the Marriott World Center in Orlando last week. As one of just 15 collegiate strength and conditioning coaches to receive the certification in 2012, Coach Dos was the only community college honored at this year’s ceremony. He now joins the exclusive fraternity of 115 Master Strength & Conditioning Coaches in the nation.


February 2012

The College of the Canyons hockey team defeated Cal State Northridge 10-4 in the Pacific Collegiate Hockey Association Championship on Sunday, becoming the only team in PCHA history to win four straight Adam's Cups.


February 2012

All-Pro defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and the New York Giants are world champions, marking the first time in college history that a former Cougar has won the Super Bowl. Pierre-Paul played a huge role in the Giants come-from-behind 21-17 victory on Sunday. JPP recorded two tackles, knocked down two passes and applied constant pressure on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, including a big hit that played a factor in Brady throwing a fourth-quarter interception and heavy pressure during the pivotal Hail Mary pass that ultimately ended the game.


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College of the Canyons
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Canyon Country campus: 17200 Sierra Highway, Canyon Country, CA 91351 • (661) 362-3800

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