New to the Neighborhood
Cal State LA opens learning center in the heart of downtown.
BY CYNTHIA ALVAREZ
Cal State LA has opened a new facility in downtown Los Angeles to provide university programs to a vibrant and rapidly developing section of the city.
“Our mission is to provide high-quality teaching in the heart of Los Angeles,” says President William A. Covino. “We will bring the resources of Cal State LA to students downtown, where they work and live.”
Cal State LA Downtown opened in January of 2016 at West 8th Street and South Grand Avenue. The 21,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility at the edge of the Financial District is located in a neighborhood that is undergoing a residential development boom, with thousands of apartments under construction or in the pipeline.
A short distance from important downtown commercial centers including The Figueroa Corridor, Arts District, Fashion District and Civic Center, Cal State LA Downtown will strengthen the University’s ties to industries that drive our local economy.
“The downtown facility enables us to work closely with local businesses, government agencies, and nonprofits to build relevant and timely programs to meet the challenges facing our great city,” says Dean of the College of Professional and Global Education Eric Bullard. “Cal State LA Downtown will enhance the lives and further the careers of even more Angelenos through higher education. They will be better prepared to be the leaders who will help our region’s economy to continue to thrive.”
Cal State LA Downtown offers undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as professional certificates and personal development. Several programs incorporate Los Angeles-specific elements, including urban issues, sustainability and diversity.
Providing students with educational opportunities closer to where they work and live is a key component of the learning center’s mission. The programs are focused on meeting the needs of working professionals, those seeking personal enrichment or career transition, such as Cynthia Castañeda.
Castañeda was taking paralegal courses in the mid-2000s until she received an incredible offer for a full-time job. Several years later, that position was outsourced and she was laid off. After assessing her options, she decided to resume her education and is now enrolled in the certificate program in paralegal studies at Cal State LA Downtown.
“It was a second chance for me,” says Castañeda. “I then applied for a scholarship, and I won. It was a confirmation I was on the right track. It felt good to do something for myself.”
The flexible course schedule fits well with her full-time job at USC, as well as her responsibilities as a mother, she says.
From Left: Dean of the College of Professional and Global Education Eric Bullard, State Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, President William A. Covino, Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, and Assemblyman Ed Chau participate in the Sept.19 ribbon-cutting ceremony at Cal State LA Downtown.
Cal State LA Downtown has also become home to Civic University—a joint certificate program between Cal State LA and the city of Los Angeles that educates community activists about the civic process. The program gives Angelenos the tools they need to understand, engage and influence City Hall to become effective advocates for their neighborhoods and interests.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti visited the closing session of a recent Civic University course, which was attended by about 100 people, including approximately 80 board members from the Los Angeles neighborhood councils and 20 members of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory group.
At the ribbon-cutting ceremony in September, Covino welcomed elected officials and community leaders, including Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, Assemblyman Ed Chau and Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez.
Gomez, who represents the 51st Assembly District, says the development boom and population growth signal the revival of downtown Los Angeles as a strong urban core with a strong sense of community.
“Downtown LA is experiencing a transformation that not many urban centers in the United States have experienced recently. The placement of a Cal State LA campus in downtown highlights that the future of Los Angeles is in downtown,” says Gomez. “People are going to be able to work downtown, live downtown and go study downtown. It could be amazing.”
Cynthia Alvarez graduated in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a focus in management and a certificate in marketing.