Vice President Joe Biden visits, tours West L.A. College

Photo by Karim Sahli ONE-ON-ONE: Vice President Joe Biden fields questions from KidScoop Media's Sam Parekh and Lena Klein. The two young reporters and Culver City residents were the only members of the press given an exclusive interview by the vice presi
Photo by Michelle Long-Coffee LEADERSHIP: In a continuing effort by President Obama’s Administration to focus on the key role community colleges play in higher education, Vice President Joe Biden visited West Los Angeles College on Friday, Jan. 23. The
Photo by Aonya McCruiston.
Photo by Aonya McCruiston.
Photo by Aonya McCruiston.
Photo by Aonya McCruiston.
Photo by Aonya McCruiston SUPPORT: West L.A. student Courtney Cylear, Congresswoman Karen Bass and senior dental hygiene student Jessica Short were all part of Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to the campus. The vice president stressed the importance of
Photo by Aonya McCruiston LEADERS: Former Congresswoman Diane Watson, left, who represented Culver City in Congress from 2003-2011, along with Congresswoman Karen Bass, CA-37th District and West L.A. President Dr. Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh gathered for a moment
Photo by Aonya McCruiston ROUNDTABLE: Culver City Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells, left, West L.A. Dental Hygiene student Courtney Cylear, Vice President Joe Biden, West L.A. President Dr. Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh, Sr. Vice President West Coast Production for HBO and
Photo by by Karim Sahli EXCLUSIVE: Sam Parekh, left, and Lena Klein were the only media representatives at West L.A. College during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit that were allowed to ask questions. Klein and Parekh are both reporters for KidScoop Med
Photo by Steve Springer.

Photo by Michelle Long-Coffee DISCUSSIONS: After his tour and interaction with students and staff, the Vice President stressed how critically important partnerships between community colleges and businesses are in providing students with career opportunit
Photo by Michelle Long-Coffee PHOTO OPP: Students and staff at West L.A. took advantage of the Vice President’s visit to share their experience with the school’s dental hygiene program, and managed to squeeze in a photo before his departure. West L.A.
Photo by Michelle Long-Coffee SPECIAL VISIT: Vice President Biden toured West L.A.’s Dental Hygiene department alongside Congresswoman Karen Bass. The campus’ dental hygiene department is part of the college’s Allied Health Program.


On Jan. 23 Vice President Joe Biden visited West L.A. College to highlight the administration’s proposal to make the first two years of community college free.

The vice president’s visit coincided with the news that West L.A. has been chosen by the state chancellor’s office to take part in a pilot initiative to offer a bachelor’s degree at selected community colleges in a specific academic field; West L.A. is one of only 15 community colleges chosen of out 34 applicants.

During his visit, Vice President Biden was shown the dental hygiene lab within the college. A four-year degree in dental hygiene is one of the new degrees that West L.A. is going to be able to offer under the proposed program.

While Biden did not discuss the specifics of the administration’s community college initiative, he did emphasize that having the first two years tuition free would allow many students to spend funds that might have gone toward college fees on childcare, food and housing. He also stated that in this year’s fed- eral budget the administration has proposed a $3,000 childcare-tax credit and to allow students to use Pell Grants to help pay for transportation and housing.

During the roundtable discussion West Los Angeles College President Dr. Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh stated that due to the manner in which community college fees in California are structured, paying for two-year college courses is often not the biggest financial hardship for many students.

“Our challenge is not tuition- our challenge is the cost of living in California, the challenge of having to work and go to college part-time, which is the greatest contributor to non completion [of a degree],” he told Vice President Biden.

The Vice President also expounded on the point that America’s next generation of work- ers had to be prepared for the new jobs created, and how the people already in the workforce are updating their knowledge to fit new advances. To support this point he cited the average age of community college students, 25-29 years of age. “However,” he said, “any country that out-educates us, out-competes us.”

Culver City Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells, Rep. Karen Bass (D- Culver City), college administrators and dental hygiene students, were all pres- ent at the roundtable and were told by the Vice President that they are in a very good position to take advantage of the first two years of the free tuition proposal because of the high level of quality instruction at West L.A.

“The school has to have a high graduation rate and a high placement rate, because we are not going to waste taxpayer money on a school that is not viewed as having the quality of being able to place these stu- dents,’” he asserted. Biden also said he was “truly impressed” with the students and their professors. “I’ve invited many of them to come to the White House,” the vice-president added.

When asked about the claim that there isn’t enough money to fund more educational programs, Vice President Biden pointed to how much money the country could make if tax-breaks for the rich weren’t in place.

“You know, none of us would be here today without someone helping us to get our education,” Vice President Biden said. “It’s my dream to make sure every kid can get the education I got.”