Time management 101

Married couple juggled studies, work and two young children to graduate Long Beach City College.

Jasmine Slater (top left) and Kesan Slater (top right)– pictured here with their two children, Jordyn and Kori– both graduated from Long Beach City College on June 6.

Photos courtesy Jasmine Slater

Jasmine Slater (top left) and Kesan Slater (top right)– pictured here with their two children, Jordyn and Kori– both graduated from Long Beach City College on June 6.

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Each of the hundreds of Long Beach City College (LBCC) graduating students who commenced at Veteran’s Stadium June 6 has a unique story of how they got there.

Among them are Jasmine Slater and Kesan Slater, a married couple in their mid-20s who passed their classes while working and raising two little girls of 5 and 3.

With help from each of their parents and LBCC’s childcare services, the couple managed to complete their coursework within three years of enrolling.

“It’s been tough,” Jasmine told the Signal Tribune. “You have the days where you want to give up.”

Jasmine started at LBCC in fall 2016 after Kesan had enrolled the previous spring. She knew she wanted to focus on nursing as she completed her general-education units.

“We took my first couple of classes together– English and statistics,” Jasmine said. “[Kesan] was a big help with statistics.”

She went on to take anatomy, physiology and ecology, but microbiology turned out to be her favorite class, she said, mainly because of its professor, Priscilla Bravo Arias.

“She cares about her students,” Jasmine said. “Even when I was struggling, she was willing to sit down and help me learn the material. She asked, ‘What can I do to help?’”

Professor Bravo-Arias also spoke positively of her former student, telling the Signal Tribune that Jasmine is dedicated, bright and charismatic.

“She is a very hard worker and proactive in her learning and helping others,” Bravo-Arias said. “That is not always the case with students. […] I know she is definitely going places!” 

Bravo-Arias also shared that many LBCC students must similarly jump hurdles in earning a degree.

“From getting to campus, being transfer-ready and being successful in their courses, [there are] a lot of daily challenges students face,” she said.

Bravo-Arias says she tries to get to know her students’ learning styles and uses an interactive approach to get them involved.

“I want my students to leave the class knowing that science is fun, it is multifaceted [and] it occurs outside of the classroom, too,” she said. “I want them to […] make a connection between the learned material and life-applicable situations, like the measles outbreak or the importance of the flu vaccine. It has to matter to them.”

Jasmine, who had gone to high school at Long Beach Polytechnic, plans to attend Cal State East Bay near San Francisco, but just for one semester before trying to transfer to Cal State Dominguez Hills or Cal State Long Beach.

She plans to major in psychology during that term but ultimately hopes to achieve a master’s degree in nursing.

“It’s scary, but exciting,” she said of leaving home for a short time.

For his part, Kesan focused on business-related courses at LBCC, but he also has an interest in law, which he hopes to develop when continuing his education at Cal State Long Beach in the fall.

Kesan Slater, who spent four years in the U.S. Army before taking business courses at Long Beach City College and graduating June 6

“I want to be an entrepreneur and start my own business,” he told the Signal Tribune. “My goals for college are to participate in the Beach Investment Group or the Moot Court program at CSULB. After earning my bachelor’s degree, I’m going to continue my education and attend law school.”

While at LBCC, Kesan said one of his favorite subjects was economics.

“Thanks to Professor Fred Beebe, I almost changed my major to econ after taking his macro- and micro-economics classes,” he said.

Beebe remembers his former student well, telling the Signal Tribune that while Kesan was quiet and reserved in the first class he took, he came to life in the second class on microeconomics, perhaps because of his growing confidence.

“He got good grades in two hard classes,” Beebe said. “He’s a good peer leader– we do a lot of peer instruction in the class, [and] he was always there sharing, contributing, helping, leading it and learning.”
Beebe also expressed support for Kesan’s interest in entrepreneurship.

“He’s got a good fire in his belly,” he said. “He’s such a hard worker. He’ll do fine working for himself.”
Beebe noted that Kesan’s classes were fairly large, from 45 to 85 students.

“We have a wide diversity with regard to student attention, their goals, their skill levels,” Beebe said. “We just want students to take economics and […] not hate it. We’re trying to help them understand that it’s a valuable class. They become a more literate citizen, a more active participant in their community and in markets.”

Having taught at LBCC since 1989, Beebe says he has seen a general shift in the role of the community college, moving from an open-door enrichment opportunity to a more outcome-based institution serving students like Kesan and Jasmine.

“A lot of the emphasis has changed in recent years to having students achieve certain goals– whether it’s certificates of accomplishment or whether it’s degrees or whether its transfer,” he said. “So, our mission as an institution has changed. I’m not sure if the mission of teaching or teachers has changed.”

Around 800 students signed up to walk during the commencement ceremony yesterday, and an additional 2,100 are scheduled to receive associate’s degrees– pending passing their last classes– according to Stacey Toda, associate director of community engagement at LBCC. And 875 candidates are slated to receive career certificates.

“We won’t know for sure until after finals,” Toda said.

Jasmine acknowledged that she didn’t always pass her finals the first time through. Kesan noted how difficult it can be to juggle classes with a work-study job and young children.

“The biggest challenge, in my opinion, is managing time,” he said.

But for both he and Jasmine, the kids are also their primary motivation to advance.

“We want to set a great example for them,” Jasmine said. “They should go to college.”

The couple actually first met in middle school, riding on the same bus and walking home together, Jasmine said. But it wasn’t until senior year that Kesan contacted Jasmine through Facebook and things progressed from there.

“We kind of expedited the situation and got married really fast,” Jasmine said.

But Kesan spent four years in the Army following high-school graduation, while Jasmine stayed with the children.

“My dad and grandfather both retired from the military,” Kesan said. “Joining the Army was something I’d always wanted to do since I was young.”

Since then, the two don’t have too much extra time for date nights, but enjoy “sip-and-paint” activities when they can, Kesan said.

“Painting With a Twist is our favorite,” he said, referring to a company that offers group painting classes along with beverages.

Both have encouraging words for anyone facing daunting challenges while building their lives.
“Have persistence and keep going,” Jasmine advises.

When asked about what he would say to someone considering college but not sure, Kesan was positive.

“I’d tell them don’t get discouraged,” he said. “If you really want it, then go for it.”