In 2016, Elizabeth Salazar had recently graduated from Santa Barbara High School. While she was interested in attending college, her financial situation was a barrier to that dream.
Fortunately, that same year, the SBCC Foundation launched the SBCC Promise, which provides all recent, local high school graduates the opportunity to attend Santa Barbara City College full time, at no cost. Relying entirely on private donations, the SBCC Promise covers all required fees, books, and supplies for up to two years.
Over 6,500 local students have participated in the SBCC Promise so far. Salazar was one of the first students to benefit, as she enrolled in 2016 and graduated two years later with her associate degree.
“The SBCC Promise was incredibly helpful to me financially, especially since I was under the care of only one parent,” she said. “The Promise allowed me to focus on my studies and save money for pursuing my bachelor’s degree.”
In addition to financial assistance, Salazar also found many helpful resources during her time at SBCC.
“Some of my favorite things about SBCC are the writing center, the math center, and the computer lab,” she said. “I utilized these centers on a regular basis to work on homework assignments. I love the library, particularly the downstairs cubicles to study.”
SBCC provides educational opportunities for people from all walks of life, and offers many types of support to ensure students are successful. This includes financial aid, technology resources, and assistance with basic needs such as food, clothing, and child care, according to the student resources section of its website.
A number of these support programs and services receive funding from the SBCC Foundation, which awards more than $5 million annually for student success programs, scholarships, book grants, emergency funds, and other critical needs of the college.
SBCC also offers a Transfer Achievement Program (TAP) designed to help students who are planning to transfer from SBCC to a four-year college or university, often to work toward a bachelor’s degree. Salazar credits this and many other resources with helping her successfully navigate through college, and she encourages other students to take advantage of them.
“Being vulnerable is brave and admirable, so ask for help,” she said. “Don’t be shy. Take advantage of all the resources available to you. I love the EOPS (Extended Opportunity Programs and Services) and TAP program, including their tutors and counselors who made sure I was on track to transfer to a four-year university. In addition, iPath (Pathways to Transfer Program) and Disability Services and Programs for Students (DSPS) helped me become a successful first-generation college student.”
“SBCC has an abundance of resources,” Salazar said. “I am thankful to have attended such an amazing college with wonderful professors.”
After earning her associate of arts degree in psychology from SBCC in 2018, Salazar transferred to California State University Channel Islands, where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology. She is now pursuing a master’s degree in school counseling at California Lutheran University.
Her work experience lends itself well to her degree, as Salazar previously worked in local schools, administering English Language Proficiency Assessments for California to students.
“I was an English learner myself, and I enjoy working with this student population, as they have a special place in my heart,” she said.
Now working as a college and career technician, Salazar uses her academic knowledge to work alongside a counselor.
“Five years ago, I would not have imagined being where I am today,” she said. “However, with the support of my family, friends, school staff, and the SBCC promise, I have achieved many of my goals.”