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“Using a guided pathway actually has been easier,” aspiring filmmaker Luis Rodriguez said. “I have a better idea of where I’m going than when I started college at North Lake."

​Contact: Ann Hatch

For immediate release — Oct. 5, 2018

(DALLAS) — Luis Rodriguez didn’t realize he would be blazing a trail for other Dallas County Community College District students this fall. The North Lake College student just wants to make movies — any genre will do.

When registration started for the fall 2018 semester, Rodriguez and all other DCCCD students embarked on the district’s new Guided Pathways to Success (or GPS) maps, which were designed to help students navigate through their degree plan with academic and career advice every step of the way.

Developed over the past two years by the district and all of its colleges, DCCCD’s GPS program includes seven separate career paths with guided pathway maps that will take students from their first day of school to graduation.

Rodriguez already has met with a GPS advisor and plans to continue his journey to a career in filmmaking by using the video technology guided pathway on DCCCD’s arts, humanities, communications and design path.

“Using a guided pathway actually has been easier,” he said. “I have a better idea of where I’m going than when I started college at North Lake. I also came to realize that I already have a lot of things scratched off my list (of classes to take).”

Navigating the Network

The district’s new guided pathways complement the degree plan that each student uses to finish the classes he or she needs to earn an associate degree or certificate. It’s designed to help students stay on track, avoid taking unnecessary classes, finish on time, launch their careers or transfer to a four-year college or university.

“Finish earlier and with less debt. Get a good job or transfer to a university to continue on your higher education path. These are all of the benefits that Guided Pathways will bring to our students, beginning this fall,” said Dr. Joe May, DCCCD’s chancellor.

May added, “Using DCCCD’s higher education network — plus pathways, degree plans, advisors, navigators, career coaches, faculty and staff — we will work together to help our students identify their career goals and put them on the right path so they can become completers and enter the workforce with credentials that employers want and need.”

Guided Pathways to Success is DCCCD’s integrated, districtwide approach to student success, and other institutions in the state are working on similar efforts through Texas Guided Pathways. Nationally, the trend is growing, too.

“Our students, as well as the communities we serve, expect us to fulfill our mission of transforming lives through higher education,” explained Anna Mays, DCCCD’s associate vice chancellor for educational policy and student success. “Our Guided Pathways to Success, coupled with the certificate and degree plans our students use to earn their college credentials, will help us achieve that goal.”

A guided pathway for personal computer support, for example, provides a semester-by-semester plan and action steps, including certificate awards; it also provides links to the degree plan. DCCCD’s GPS also offers associate degree pathways that are designed to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program at a university.

“While the degree plan is the official document our students use to complete their credential, a guided pathway serves as the students’ navigation tool,” said Doris Rousey, the district’s director of strategic initiatives. Degree plans are published in the official DCCCD catalog, which is posted on the district’s website.

Taking the Right Pathway to Success, Careers

Ultimately, DCCCD’s guided pathways are designed to help students like Rodriguez reach for their dreams and start new careers. More guided pathways will be integrated within the seven established career paths in 2018-2019, and Mays said the district will fully implement GPS for everyone the following year. By that time, students will be able to choose from almost 300 programs of study.

When Rodriguez and thousands of other students enroll at DCCCD’s seven colleges — Brookhaven, Cedar Valley, Eastfield, El Centro, Mountain View, North Lake and Richland — they will blaze a trail on new pathways. Their participation will help the district’s educators, administrators, navigators, career coaches and advisors guide future students on their own pathways to success.

“Advisors are always helpful whenever I’m in a hole and need some extra help,” said Rodriguez. “Luckily, every time I met with one, that person always knew where to put me and which class made the most sense to take. I want to be a filmmaker, and I hope that taking these classes on my pathway will help me find a way to enter the film business after I earn my certificate.

“And I hope that my career path will help me be successful,” added Rodriguez, who plans to finish his college credential at North Lake in fall 2019. “Taking these classes at North Lake has given me a better experience — I just love it. I have no doubt that I will get the experience I need to get into real filmmaking.”

For more information about DCCCD’s Guided Pathways to Success program, visit

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