Mischa Alemania

“I express myself creatively through film. When I was growing up, I had a hard time focusing on subjects I had no interest in. At DVC, I was able to enroll in the classes needed to pursue my career. I spent less than $1,000 and left knowing everything I needed to know,” said Shawn Kosmakos. 

Kosmakos enrolled in DVC’s film, television, and electronic media (FTVE) program, where he earned a certificate of accomplishment in television arts – studio production. 

During his time at DVC, Kosmakos made industry connections that helped him gain experience in his field. He has edited micro content and engaged in visual effects work for Guerilla Wanderers, and was a lead colorist for Farallon Creative. He also launched his own studio, Prominyo.

Shawn Kosmakos

Shawn Kosmakos

“I shot my first feature-length film, Vigilante Justice, with a crew I met in classes at DVC. A year later, we started shooting A Film by Cool Jake with much of the same crew, as well as members of the Las Positas College film program,” said Kosmakos. 

Matt Townley is the co-founder and executive producer with Gorilla Creative, a full-service video production studio, and a DVC alum. He knows first-hand how DVC can make an impact for both students and area employers. 

“My first encounter with DVC was during high school when I enrolled in college classes to graduate early. After graduating high school, I continued taking DVC classes while working,” said Townley. 

As an industry partner, guest speaker, mock interviewer, and FTVE advisory board member, Townley feels it’s essential that students enrolled in creative classes attain the skills employers are seeking.  

“Students often feel there is a disconnect between classroom learning and the skills needed on the job. This can contribute to a lack of motivation, not to mention the actual skills gap it creates. The more we can close the gap, the better,” said Townley. 

This perception of a disconnect is often shared by employers. A 2022 Harvard Business School study found that just 26 percent of employers strongly agreed that community colleges produce work-ready employees.  

But this same study also indicated that nearly two-thirds of the employers surveyed had taken no action to collaborate with community colleges. As such, the employers were not able to fully assess the accuracy of their assumptions. This means they may have been overlooking the community college talent pipeline due to unfounded reputational bias.The lack of employer engagement is also a disadvantage for a generation of students who could benefit from early exposure to industry insights, mentorship and more. 

In a Fast Company article about the study, Harvard Business School’s Joseph Fuller recommends that employers contribute to developing the curriculum and programs needed to produce the skilled employees they need. This is exactly what DVC has been doing for many years through advisory boards associated with its academic program. 

By becoming a member of the FTVE advisory board, Townley knew he would have a hand in shaping the local talent pool, which he knew would benefit his business.  

“As someone who depends on freelancers to run and grow our business, having an opportunity to meet students who I know are getting trained with the skills we need gives us an advantage,” said Townley.  

Townley is aware that not all careers require a bachelor’s degree – especially creative careers that focus on artistic talent and specific skills. 

“I look at education through the lens of a cost-benefit analysis. For students eyeing a creative career, there’s immense value in the focused, practical training that DVC offers,” said Townley. 

Sahra Bhimji, professor of film production for DVC, agrees. She notes that FTVE’s industry partners often express how impressed they are with DVC’s resources. 

“I think sometimes there is an assumption that community college students lack access to ‘real’ equipment. But when they see our digital cameras, our state-of-the-art production studio, and our new computer labs, a lot of them say, ‘Gee, I should’ve gone to DVC,’” said Bhimji.

For more information, visit www.dvc.edu/ftve.  

DVC students meet local workforce needs 

DVC’s dental programs are renowned throughout the Bay Area and beyond, with graduates who are sought-after by dental practices.  

“Over the past 10 years in dentistry, assistants have been hard to find across the country. DVC dental programs fill a vital role by providing highly trained, job-ready candidates,” said Dr. Don Schmitt, pediatric dentist and owner of Schmitt & Saini Pediatric Dentistry. 

Schmitt’s practice has partnered with DVC for over 30 years, hosting dental assistant students and referring their assistants to DVC’s dental hygiene program. Schmitt also serves on DVC’s dental advisory board. 

“In the past, we have partnered with other schools, but we had to stop because those students were not trained to anywhere near the high standards set by DVC,” said Schmitt.

Mischa Alemania

Mischa Alemania

Mischa Alemania completed an associate in science and certificate of achievement in dental assisting in May 2024. She chose DVC’s program because she heard positive feedback from dental alumni and professionals.  

“The DVC dental programs prepare you well for your future in dentistry. The professors are extremely supportive,” said Alemania.  

Alemania enjoyed the hands-on training she received, both within the DVC program and through her externship.  

“I’ve been able to gain experience as well as get connected with professionals in the dental field. Being around people who have been in your shoes and have succeeded is a great way to accumulate knowledge and access varying perspectives,” said Alemania.  

Colleen Shipp, the dental assisting program director at DVC, notes that she receives multiple calls daily from dentists interested in hiring dental assistant graduates. 

“Our students can work for a community dentist while enrolled and complete a paid externship, enabling them to be paid during the program,” said Shipp.

Marcella Pittam

Marcella Pittam earned an associate in science in kinesiology from DVC and a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Cal State East Bay. She then returned to DVC and graduated with her associate in science in dental hygiene in May 2024.  

“What I loved most about the dental hygiene program is the community it creates. My classmates, professors, and the clinic office staff made the experience so memorable,” said Pittam. 

Like Alemania, Pittam has found the hands-on experience to be one of the most exciting aspects of the program. 

“For two years, we can gain invaluable experience at the clinic, under the supervision of our professors. We help our local community with low-cost dental cleanings while we work towards becoming the strong dental hygienists we will be! We also volunteer at OLE Health Clinic in Napa for six weeks, which provides a realistic experience of what it will be like working in a private practice setting,” said Pittam. 

In addition to OLE Health, the dental hygiene program partners with several other dental offices. 

“Pacific Dental Services sponsors a hygienist-in-training program that provides dental hygiene students an opportunity to work in a dental office prior to licensure. We also partner with Contra Costa Public Health’s Give Kids a Smile program, as well as Dentists on Wheels, an organization that provides free dental services to underserved populations in Contra Costa County,” said Tonette Steeb, the director of dental hygiene at DVC.   

For more information, visit: 

Industry partners make the difference 

Herbert Lee is a long-time partner with DVC’s business administration program. He has participated on speaker panels and is a member of their advisory board. He has also hired DVC students as interns when he was the executive director of Neto Community Network, a nonprofit focused on raising economic, health, educational, and social equity in the local community.  

“DVC student interns have a lot of raw energy and are always eager to learn and grow. They were more like team members than interns, and represented our organization out to the community,” said Lee. 

Lee wants to help young people reach their potential, enabling them to achieve their goals while giving back to their community. 

“I want them to work here, live here, raise families here, and support the local economy,” said Lee. 

One way that Lee has taken steps towards this goal is by serving as a mentor and guest judge at DVC’s annual Piranha Pool Pitch Competition, an event modeled after the popular TV show,  Shark Tank.   

Jordan Shinn

Jordan Shinn

“The Piranha Pool Pitch Competition was one of the most influential events in my academic career. I worked with my teammates and my mentor, Herbert Lee, to develop a business plan related to my idea of developing facemasks that are completely biodegradable,” said Jordan Shinn. 

Shinn came up with his product idea due to the COVID-19 pandemic, when everyone was wearing masks. He was concerned that millions of facemasks were being discarded, knowing that they could last hundreds of years before biodegrading.  

Shinn and his team performed their pitch during the competition and were proud to be awarded second place out of the eighteen teams that participated. 

“This experience completely changed my life. I learned that I had a love for business formulation and management, and a mentor who continued to support me after the competition,” said Shinn. 

Shinn earned his associate in science in business administration from DVC, and then transferred to St. Mary’s College of California, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude with his bachelor of science in business administration.  

While at St. Mary’s, he also mentored a student team competing in the Piranha Pool Pitch Competition at DVC. He relied on his competition and mentoring experience when applying for an internship with Gallagher Insurance Brokerage, a company that offers one of the top sales summer internships in the country. 

“During my interviews, I led with my experience with the DVC Piranha Pool Pitch Competition, and how that experience taught me how to work efficiently in a team environment, while developing my love and enthusiasm for a career in business,” said Shinn. 

Shinn is thrilled that he not only was offered the internship, but that he was able to continue as a full-time employee at the end of the summer. 

“I would not be in the position I am today without DVC and the Piranha Pool Pitch Competition. I used the skills, experience, and education that I received from DVC to earn admission to a great college, earn an internship, and obtain a full-time job that provides for me and makes me feel fulfilled every day,” said Shinn.

For more information, visit www.dvc.edu/business-admin.