Unity Center makes its debut after delays

Valley Colleges’ new Mosaic Village: Unity Center opened its doors Tuesday.


By Natalie Metcalf, Valley Life Editor

Vice President of Student Services Florentino Manzano and Acting Associate Dean of Equity Cecilia Cruz cut the ribbon at the offical opening of Valley College’s Mosaic Village: Unity Center. (Jeremy Ruiz | Valley Star)

A crowd of Monarchs gathered in front of Campus Center to welcome the Mosaic Village: Unity Center, while both Vice President of Student Services Florentino Manzano and Acting Associate Dean of Equity Cecilia Cruz cut a bright green Valley-certified ribbon.


Four student-oriented programs now call Valley’s Campus Center home, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony to make it all the more official. Delayed by COVID-19, asbestos and flooding, the Mosaic Village: Unity Center made its debut on Tuesday. The collective of resources will now have a permanent residence within Campus Center, including the Dream Resource Center, Rainbow Pride Center, Puente Program and Basic Needs Center. Umoja Black Scholars and the Veterans Resource Center already hold a spot in the Mosaic Village, as the Unity Center is an add-on to the mosaic.


“You are sending a powerful message by joining us this morning –– that everyone is welcome at Valley, that everyone has a place to feel safe,” said Gribbons. “This is not always true for students who are dreamers, LGBTQIA+ or experiencing basic needs insecurities.”


The ribbon-cutting was met with around 100 students, faculty and staff. Under Secretary of Education, James Kvaal was in attendance. LACCD trustee board members Andra Hoffman and Nichelle Henderson joined in the historic event, along with district Chancellor Fransico Rodriguez and Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian. Hoffman spoke about her time at Valley as a student and her excitement in the new Unity Center.


Natalie Guerrero is in charge of running the Rainbow Pride Center. In her first few months at Valley, the counselor sponsored an LGBTQIA+ club named Pride+ and was responsible for the first pride flag raising at an LACCD campus in history.


In the 29 years of Puente’s existence, this is the first time the program will have its own space. Ruth Vasquez will be Puente’s counselor in the Unity Center, working alongside Puente Program advisor Holly Batty.


“The idea of it [the Mosaic Center] is supposed to be about bringing pieces of different things together into something beautiful,” said Batty.

Juan Castellanos is heading up the Basic Needs Center as a coordinator and counselor. This week the center hosted a resource fair for National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week.


The Associated Student Union members President Ani Ramazyan, Treasurer Diego Enriquez, Commissioner of Fine Arts Mia Sanchez and Commissioner of Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Erick Portillo attended. Enriquez made an unplanned speech at the podium, as a Puente student representative. Before the treasurer spoke, Ramazyan showed her support by speaking briefly about community and student interest on campus.


“I remember during one of our events Dr. Gribbons mentioned that on this campus we care about each other, which is absolutely true because it’s what we do –– we care about each other,” said the student union president.


The Mosaic Village: Unity Center sits where Valley’s bookstore used to be, turning an empty space into a safe place for first-generation Monarchs, student veterans, LGBTQIA+ members and students in need of food and housing.


“Now we just have one more thing to do this morning –– we have to cut a ribbon,” said President Gribbons, followed by a round of applause.