James Fent, LMFT, PT, SUDCC IV

First and foremost, community colleges provide quality education with a focus on teaching excellence and subject matter expertise. In addition to quality education, community colleges provide flexible scheduling from day and night classes to online courses. With a focus on student needs, community colleges strive to make the education experience as enjoyable as possible while preparing students for success.

James Fent
James Fent, LMFT, PT, SUDCC IV
Mr. Fent is the Program Coordinator Alcohol and Other Drug Studies, Palomar College and serves on the CADTP Certification Board

Community colleges are convenient, accessible, and affordable. Martha Parham, senior vice president of public relations at the American Association of Community Colleges states “Cost is certainly one of the primary reasons why someone should consider a community college.” The college data board states that community colleges cost on average about one-third the cost of in-state tuition at four-year public universities. Additionally, community colleges have resources available providing generous financial aid and scholarships that can eliminate financial barriers students may have.

Community colleges provide extensive support services to a student body of diverse ages, maturity levels, ethnicities, and lifestyles. For example, students can receive academic support services such as tutoring, writing skills, peer note-taking, textbook assistance, and accommodations for testing. Students also benefit from health services, mental health counseling, and career planning. Community colleges partner with universities, employers, student assistance programs, military, local community government, and other institutions and a variety of programs, internships, grants, and initiatives.

Community colleges are accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC/WASC), an institutional accrediting body recognized by the Council of Higher Education Accreditation and the Department of Education. This is important for students who want to transfer to a four-year college and who have higher education aspirations. Accreditation avoids ‘for profit’ commercial institutions promising outcomes to a student which the so-called ‘college’ can not or does not produce.

Many community colleges have transfer agreements with local four-year universities. These agreements allow students who complete specific requirements, at a fraction of the cost, to easily transfer into a four-year program at a nearby university. Transfer students can then earn a bachelor’s degree while having to pay only two years of more costly tuition. Community college allows students to reset their academic and social/emotional reputation from high school and can be an economically affordable entry into higher education before transferring to a four-year program.

Relationships are important and community colleges develop strong relationships with students, faculty, staff,  and organizations that can help students reach their learning and career goals. Community colleges are excellent for networking especially with local businesses and community influencers. By providing internships, mentoring programs, and other student-centered programs, the community college helps students achieve success.

In addition to professional and career networking, students can be socially involved in many other ways. These diverse activities range from athletics to performing arts, and from clubs of varying interests to student government.

It is important to take advantage of what a college offers, and community colleges offer a lot!


California Community Colleges – Enroll Today | Career Education Certificates (icangotocollege.com)

California Community Colleges – Enroll Today | Financial Aid Options (icangotocollege.com)

Dr. Jessica Rodriguez

Dr. Rodriguez was named the Executive Director of Gateway Corp in 2012.  Gateway Corp was developed as a non-profit, public charity and founded October 27, 2011. November 2014, she developed a clinical hub for Gateway Corp called OnSite Strategies. OnSite is also a United States Trademark.

She has held the position of CEO, Clinical Director, Lead Educator and Clinical Trainer as well as the Clinical Business Developer. She has fulfilled the roles of a clinical consultant, professional development consultant and has clinically supervised many SUD/addiction counselors, mental health professionals and addiction and family interventionists for over 12 years.

She has been active in the mental health field since 1995. She has also clinically trained throughout the US and provides clinical oversight for several organizations in California.

Dr. Rodriguez released her first book, “When the Rainbow Ends a Shadow from Heaven Appears" in 2017.” Her newest book, "The Cart, From Adversity to Collateral Beauty" is scheduled to be released in the Fall of 2022.

Dr. Rodriguez is currently a writer for Rapporteur Magazine. Her focus is about Mental Wellness also covered topics to include ACE's, trauma, anxiety, and Systemic Racism.

Adriana Popescu, Ph.D.

Dr. Adriana Popescu is a licensed clinical psychologist and empowerment coach with over 25 years of experience in the mental health field. She specializes in treating addictions and trauma, and has directed a number of treatment programs in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the Founder and CEO of Firebird Healing, a trauma healing program, and the Clinical Director at Avery Lane, an innovative and holistic treatment program for women with co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders and trauma.

Adriana has contributed to a number of books, including TJ Woodward's Conscious Being Workbook, the Conscious Recovery for Addiction and Conscious Recovery for Mental Health Workbooks, and the Conscious Creation Workbook, all of which she co-authored with him.

She has a private practice in San Francisco and travels around the world speaking, coaching, and facilitating transformational and empowering workshops. She also hosts a fascinating podcast called Kaleidoscope of Possibilities – Alternative Perspectives on Mental Health.

Adriana loves to bring the most innovative and effective tools to her work, empowering people to overcome their imagined limitations, release their self-judgments, and discover the brilliance within – creating a life of infinite possibilities.

Her first book, “What If You’re Not as F*cked Up As You Think”, was released in October.

Aven Armstrong-Sutton, Ph.D(c), RSW

Clinical Services Manager at Kinark Child and Family Services

Aven L. Armstrong-Sutton has been a practicing licensed social worker for over a decade. With diverse experience in settings such as health promotion, foster care, youth homelessness, outpatient mental health & addictions, and student support services, Aven currently serves as a Clinical Services Manager at Kinark Child and Family Services, managing a Live-In-Treatment Program and three outpatient treatment programs. Maintaining a part-time private practice, Aven’s multidisciplinary and integrative approach focuses on trauma and resilience among under-served communities.

June Price Tangney, Ph.D

Dr. Tangney received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from UCLA. She is currently University Professor and Professor of Psychology at George Mason. She is a Recipient of International Society for Self and Identity’s Distinguished Lifetime Career Award and Fellow of the Association of Psychological Science and of APA’s Division of Personality and Social Psychology.

Dr. Tangney is coauthor (with Ronda Dearing) of Shame and Guilt, coeditor (with Ronda Dearing) of Shame in the Therapy Hour, coeditor (with Jess Tracy and Richard Robins) of The self-conscious emotions: Theory and research, and coeditor (with Mark Leary) of the Handbook of Self and Identity. She has served as Associate Editor for Self and Identity, Consulting Editor for Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Psychological Assessment, Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, and Journal of Personality, and is currently Associate Editor of American Psychologist.

Her research on the development and implications of moral emotions has been funded by NIDA, NICHD, NSF, and the John Templeton Foundation. Currently, her work focuses on moral emotions among incarcerated offenders. She draws on theory and research in psychology and criminology to develop novel interventions that leverage inmates’ moral emotions and prosocial values. A recipient of GMU’s Teaching Excellence Award, Dr. Tangney strives to integrate service, teaching and clinically-relevant research in both the classroom and her lab.

Christina Veselak, MS, LMFT, CN

Founder and Director of the Academy for Addiction and Mental Health Nutrition

Christina T. Veselak, MS, LMFT, CN, is the founder and director of the Academy for Addiction and Mental Health Nutrition, which teaches practitioners around the world how to use diet, along with amino acid and nutrient therapy, to help prevent cravings and recurrent drug use. She has been a licensed psychotherapist working in the SUD treatment field since 1985 and a certified nutritionist specializing in mental health and addiction recovery since 1993.

Sean Bezdek, LMFT, MBA

Sean is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 25 years of experience working in mental health and substance abuse settings, in inpatient, PHP, and private practice. He holds b a master’s degree in Marital and Family Therapy from Philips Institute and an MBA from Baker College.

Sean’s clinical practice has specialized in working with Personality Disorders, Couples, Adolescents, and individual suffering from chronic mental illness. As a clinician Sean enjoys working with clients who can be resistant to traditional treatment and believes in the philosophy of “You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink. BUT you can feed them saltines to make them thirsty!”

Sean is the Program Director for Akua Mind Body’s Sacramento inpatient mental health program. His prior leadership experience includes oversight of acute inpatient, utilization management, hospice/palliative care, home health and skilled nursing. Sean’s approach to management is to ensure the work that needs to get done gets done. “Our job is patient care. This include everything from making coffee to running groups. There is not one person who is more important that the other when it comes to providing exceptional care to the clients we serve.”