15 Years

Columbia College-Los Alamitos celebrates its crystal anniversary

Los Alamitos campus: Photo by Laura Herzog
By Whitney Dreier

Since its maiden voyage in 1936, the Queen Mary has seen it all – wars, weddings and everything in between. In 2010, the ship hosted a new event from its post in Long Beach Harbor: commencement for Columbia College-Los Alamitos.

Graduation in the Queen’s Salon, however, is a relatively new tradition for the campus, which was founded in 1997 and celebrates its 15th anniversary this month.

“We are very honored to have Columbia College serving our community for the past 15 years,” says Los Alamitos Mayor Troy Edgar. “Many of our residents, local military, city staff and police officers have attended, or are currently attending, Columbia College.”

Although Edgar did not attend Columbia College-Los Alamitos himself, he is quick to point out the schools’ value in the community. “As a veteran, I strongly believe that Columbia College provides a very important opportunity to our locally assigned military personnel,” he says. “Columbia College provides the type of educational opportunity that allows citizens and military personnel to diligently pursue their education goals and enjoy the professional success that follows.”

birthday cake
Columbia College-Los Alamitos educates 175 military and civilian students each year and offers associate and bachelor’s degree programs in-seat as well as 23 associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees online.

The Los Alamitos campus is located on the Joint Forces Training Base, about five miles from the Pacific Ocean on California’s west coast. Classes are small, so instructors get plenty of one-on-one interaction with students, most of whom are service members. “Administrators are in close contact with all students, none of whom fall out of their view,” explains Michael Steinberg, who teaches algebra and statistics. “It happens often that a student goes on deployment and misses classes or tests, but we always find a way to make them up.”

Dr. Sutter Fox teaches Introduction to Computer Information Systems and Business Information Systems. “I understand the experience of the students standing duty, serving on deployments, going to school after a long day at work,” says Fox, who earned an MBA in evening classes while on active duty with the US Coast Guard. “I understand their problems and can easily work with them.” “We look forward to helping students pursue their career goals for years to come, says campus director Carl David. “We are proud to be part of the Los Alamitos community.” The relationship between community and campus is mutually beneficial. “People who work to improve their knowledge and position are assets to their organizations and communities, and thus to the nation,” says Fox, who has taught at Columbia College-Los Alamitos since 2007. “My greatest pleasure is to attend graduation and see students that I know walk across the stage to accept their diplomas.”