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Chaparral 2012-2013: Best Kept Secret (Garfield Gleanings)

Best Kept Secret (Garfield Gleanings)

Best Kept Secret (Part 1)

by Leigh Podgorski

I am an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Basic Skills. I have been teaching at the Garfield Campus for over 12 years in what used to be called the Developmental Skills Lab, and is now known as the Student Success Center; however, I think it should most aptly be referred to as “The Best Kept Secret” – not only on the GCC campus, but in Glendale and throughout Los Angeles County.

Yet, if someone were to ask what we do at our Center, it seems he would be rewarded with a blank stare, a shrug of shoulders, and perhaps a quiet mumble, “I think they do something with the GED?” However, if you really want to know what we do, besides dropping by and visiting, all you need do is talk to our students.

I met Alex Hamond, a senior technician at GCC’s San Gabriel lab, via the GCC intranet when he fixed a host of pesky computer problems for me. It turns out that Alex attained his GED through us and then went on to earn his AA at the main campus and his B.A. at Cal Poly Pomona “I think of the Garfield Center,” Alex said,  “the Student Success Center in particular, as the first step … the cornerstone in the process of one's educational planning and career building. As an adult returning student, or as a high school dropout, it is the place where you can find the lost ‘blueprint’ of your future.” 

Another one of our success stories is my student Juan. Juan is an ex-con, well-known to the Glendale Police Force, as he told me—now for what he does for them, as opposed to before for, well, what they always had to do to him. Juan told me that the day he earned his GED was the happiest day of his life, happier than the day he got out of prison.

We celebrate another ex-con student, Mark. Mark worked with me for English and Sevan Ourfalian for math. He looked like a cherub, but he’d been a gang-banger and incarcerated since he was twelve years old. He'd found his way out of that life and was studying the ministry. When he passed the GED, Mark's church sent him on to another state to study theology. Before he left, he spoke to students about the dangers of gang life at several of Sevan’s high school classes, and at several GED graduations.  

The Student Success Center is where we prepare students for their future wherever they happen to be now in their academic life.

(Stay tuned next month for more success stories from the Student Success Center, as well as the conclusion of Leah Podgorski’s essay.)


Leigh Podgorski is also a writer. Her books include: The Women Debrowska, Ouray’s Peak, and the Stone Quest series: Desert Chimera, Gallows Ascending, and due out this summer: Neuri Shape-shifter. Leigh’s books are available on Amazon, Kindle, and More information about Leigh and her work can be found @, including her documentary We Are Still Here, the story of Katherine Siva Saubel and the Cahuilla Indians of Southern California.


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