College Corps fellows put their hearts into community service

Chanel Page

Chanel Page at the College Corps Induction ceremony.

Students in the College Corps program at University of the Pacific logged an impressive 33,263 hours of community service during the 2022-23 school year—an accomplishment that has Chanel Page ’26 beaming with pride.

And now, the second-year political science and sociology major and her colleagues—returnees and newcomers—are ready for an encore.

“We are excited about the impact we made in Stockton and the surrounding area,” said Page, who returns for another year in the program. She is working with Parklane School in the Lodi Unified School District. “We helped families and children and gave them a better outlook on life. We are determined to do so again this year.”

The official name of the program, sponsored by California Volunteers, is #CaliforniansForAllCollegeCorps. Pacific is receiving $3.2 million over two years for fellows to help non-profits and schools in four areas of emphasis: K-12 education, climate change, community health and food insecurity.

The 90 students in the 2023-24 cohort were sworn in Aug. 18 at Faye Spanos Concert Hall on the Stockton Campus. They vow to continue a high level of service in a multi-faceted state program that also includes classroom work and a generous stipend to help students pay for college.

Students such as Page, who is from Tracy, receive $7,000 to help defray college housing costs and another $3,000 if they complete the required 450 hours of community service. They also attend one seminar class.

“Students get a taste of what life after graduation is going to be like,” said College of the Pacific Dean Lee Skinner. “Going out into the community and applying what you are learning is very invigorating. My personal goal has always been to improve the place where I live. I am happy to see this goal is also reflected at the university.”

Pacific is one of only four private schools taking part in College Corps. Pacific plans to re-apply for funding for 2025 and 2026.

“In our second year, we are excited to have 90 fellows participating once again,” said Francine Redada, director of the program. “The students are getting great life experiences and making a positive difference in our communities.”

The students come from many backgrounds and demographics such as Nikaela Gonzales, a first-year student, and AJ Johnson, a veteran with almost four decades of United States military service.

Gonzales, a native of Bakersfield, visited Stockton for Admitted Student Day and was overwhelmed by the College Corps opportunities.

“Because I grew up without siblings, I thought College Corps would give me a chance to meet people who have gone through the same sort of experiences,” said Gonzales, who will serve her fellowship with the Unbound Stockton Community School. “I also saw this as an opportunity to help young children and make a positive difference in their lives.”

Gonzales said she “loves Pacific” and hopes to stay in Stockton for six years–getting bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She will major in health and exercise sciences.

Johnson, 56 with two children, knows he stands out among College Corps fellows. He is a transfer from Los Rios Community College in the Sacramento area and lives in Calaveras Hall as he completes his bachelor’s degree in economics of mathematics.

Johnson served 13 years in the United States Marine Corps and 39 years overall with his reserve duty.

He became interested in Pacific while attending the Sacramento Black Expo. Pacific had a booth at the event, and he immediately became intrigued at the offerings.

“I am very interested in helping children, especially as it relates to school,” said Johnson, who is teamed with the non-profit Raising Youth Resilience. “I would have done it for free. It is a windfall that they are going to pay me for the work. This opens many doors for me.”

Johnson looks forward to having a leadership role with his College Corps cohort.

“You have to first envision yourself being successful to actually be successful,” he said.

Other agencies working with College Corps include Goodwill Industries of the San Joaquin Valley, United Way of San Joaquin County, the Emergency Food Bank and the City of Stockton.

AJ Johnson at the College Corps Induction ceremony.