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2021 IFY Flyer

2021 International Forum on Youth

November 15 - 19, 2021


Mission Statement

As an innovative higher education institution, at College of the Canyons (COC), we pride ourselves in offering an accessible, enriching learning environment where our students excel in their academic and skill preparations. To meet our College’s mission, as stated in our Mission Statement, COC “embraces diversity, fosters technical competencies, [and] supports the development of global responsibilities.” To that end, the Office of International Services and Programs (ISP) hosts an annual International Forum on Youth (IFY) where we invite distinguished scholars and experts to the campus, in conjunction with our local and campus experts, to hold lectures, panels, and discussion forums to raise awareness on issues youth of this generation face, to reshape cultural and historical narratives about the youth, as well as to recognize and celebrate their courage and triumph as the future leaders of the world.

Vision Statement

Being a leading 2-year college, College of the Canyons wants to be recognized as an innovative, inclusive, and entrepreneurial higher education learning institution. By implementing key tenets of Comprehensive Internationalization on campus, the Office of International Services and Programs (ISP), in its three-year strategic planning cycle, uses the format of this forum to raise our global profile, to further timely and scholarly dialogue on international matters, and to create opportunities where our students not only learn from scholars and experts across the globe but have the opportunity to voice their vision for the betterment of the world.

The themes for the three-year strategic planning cycle for the IFY are:

2019 - Identity

2020 - Migration

2021 - Transition


  • Foster strong scholarship among faculty and connections with international scholars
  • Encourage dialogue on challenging topics that are timely and international by nature
  • Generate interest among faculty, students, and staff for projects and education abroad


Flex Credit Available for College of the Canyons Faculty and Staff

Moderators will be tracking extra credit for students!


Keynote Address by Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook

This year's keynote speaker will be Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook, who has been at helm of College of the Canyons since 1988, making her the longest serving community college CEO in California. During her professional career, there has been a transition in how society views women's roles in the workplace. She will share her personal experience as a woman in leadership roles over the past 30 years.

Date: Monday, November 15, 2021
Time: 11:00AM - 12:30PM PST

ON-SITE LOCATION: Mentry Hall 343


Watch Video Here

Van Hook

Read about the event here!

*All times listed are in Pacific Standard Time*

Mon Nov 15, 2021

Tue Nov 16, 2021

Wed Nov 17, 2021

Thu Nov 18, 2021

Fri Nov 19, 2021

11:00AM - 12:30PM PST

International Forum on Youth Keynote Address by Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook

  • Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook (Chancellor, COC)

Watch Video Here

11:00AM - 12:30PM PST

Admin Perspectives on Intercultural Policies & Programs

  • Dr. Jia-Yi Cheng-Levine (Dean, International Affairs & Global Engagement, COC)
  • Jun Wang (Assistant Provost, Strategic Initiatives and International Recruitment, University of California, Riverside)
  • Russell A. Waldon, J.D. (Dean, Global Learning Programs and Services Division, Skyline College)

Watch Video Here

11:00AM - 12:30PM PST

Transitioning Towards Global Equity in the Residential Built Environment

  • Jason Oliver (Department Chair, Architecture and Interior Design, COC)
  • Viridiana Gonzalez (El Salvador ITCA Project)
  • Cristian Benoit Maldonado (El Salvador ITCA Project)

Watch Video Here

11:00AM - 12:30PM PST

3 Super Powers: Networking for Young People

  • Magdalena Błyskosz (Founder of Open Coffee Youth)

Watch Video Here


2:00PM - 3:30PM PST

LGBTQ+ Panel

  • Aurelia Taleb-Ahmed (Senior Cyclist Representative, AIDS/LifeCycle at the Los Angeles LGBT Center)
  • Nova Mandel (Student, COC)
  • Dana Levine (Manager, Growth Sales at Juniper Square/COC Alumnus)

Watch Video Here

 2:00PM - 3:30PM PST

Study Abroad Panel

  • Dr. Claudia M. Acosta (Department Chair, Modern Languages & Cultures, COC)
  • Yen Ching Wu (Daniel) (Chief of International Education Section, Taichung Municipal Hui-Wen High School)
  • Dr. Katherine Punteney (Professor, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey)

Watch Video Here

 2:00PM - 3:30PM PST

Workforce Panel

  • Jeffrey Phillip Forest (Director, Older Youth Initiatives, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation)
  • Heather Singmaster (Director, Career and Technical Education and the Global Cities Education Network, Center for Global Education at the Asia Society)

Watch Video Here

 2:00PM - 3:30PM PST

Student Panel

  • Qian-Hui Yu (International Student, COC)
  • Kayla Jaramillo (ASG Executive Vice President of Activities, COC)
  • Cameron Cruz (Student, COC)
  • Sana Alkhouli (Student, COC)
  • Collin Shneour (ASG Social Student Involvement Coordinator, COC)
  • Sona Tigranyan (ASG Social Student Involvement Coordinator, COC)

Watch Video Here

 1:00PM - 2:30PM PST

Town Hall Meeting

Comprehensive Internationalization at COC

  • Dr. Jia-Yi Cheng-Levine (Dean, International Affairs & Global Engagement, COC)
  • Dr. Brent Riffel (Professor of History, COC)
  • Dr. Saburo Matsumoto (Professor of Mathematics, COC)
  • Tim Honadel (Director, International Services & Programs, COC)

5:00PM - 6:30PM PST

Migrant Kitchen Viewing & Discussion

  • Chef Michelle Lainez (Chef Michelle and Company)
  • Cindy Schwanke (Department Chair, Culinary Arts and Wine Studies, Institute for Culinary Education, COC)

Watch Video Here

5:00PM - 6:30PM PST

Mentoring Learners Beyond the Formal

  • Prakash Chandra Giri (English Lecturer, Gupteshwor Mahadev Multiple Campus/ Principal, Goodwill Activity School)

Watch Video Here

 5:00PM - 6:30PM PST

The Future of Higher Education

  • Tim Honadel (Director, International Services & Programs, COC)
  • Dr. Brent Riffel (Proceffor, History Deparment, COC)
  • Dr. Saburo Matsumoto (Professor, Mathematics Department, COC)

Watch Video Here

 5:00PM - 6:30PM PST

Speaker Panel: Actionable Projects & Ideas For/From Youth

  • Prakash Chandra Giri
  • Yen Ching Wu (Daniel) 
  • Jun Wang
  • Jeffrey Phillip Forest
  • Heather Singmaster

Watch Video Here



 Speakers, Panelists, and Moderators

  • Van Hook

    When anyone in the education community talks about inspiration and building connections, there’s one person always mentioned in — or already part of — the conversation. That individual is Dr. Dianne Van Hook, Chancellor of the Santa Clarita Community College District and President of College of the Canyons. Currently serving in her 33rd year as Chancellor of the Santa Clarita Community College District (SCCCD), Dr. Van Hook is the recognized leader in the state for redefining “innovation” during her four plus decades of service as an educational leader, all the while inspiring others along the way and continuing to build connections between education and the workforce.

    In her 33 years as CEO of the SCCCD, there’s no doubt that Dr. Van Hook has earned her reputation as an inspirational and visionary leader, an exceptional innovator and a perennial optimist who never wavers from her core belief: If you can dream it, you can achieve it! When she dreams, she dreams B-I-G, and inspires those around her to do the same.

    Dr. Van Hook is a builder at heart and has dedicated her career to building people, programs, pathways, plans, partnerships and possibilities. It is her keen sense of vision, strong commitment to the community she serves, and passion for supporting the development of possibilities that drives her to pursue the very things that many colleagues call “impossible.” But it is her unique ability to share her vision and inspire others, while building bridges and partnerships along the way, that turns those impossibilities into possibilities.

    She is passionate and ever-committed to the development of people and has dedicated her career into helping others achieve their highest potential. It is her intense natural drive that helps to inspire others while building and maintaining solid relationships on and off campus. Together, with her team mates, they create endless opportunities for students!

  • ClaudiaClaudia Acosta was born in Nicaragua where she resided until the age of 14. She holds a doctorate degree from the Graduate School of Education and Psychology at Pepperdine University. Her dissertation focuses on the Role of International Education in California Community Colleges. Her academic background includes a master’s degree in Hispanic Literatures from the University of California, Riverside and a bachelor’s degree from California State University, San Marcos in Liberal Arts and Broadcast Journalism and her undergraduate work is in Humanities. She has participated in the programs of the Council for Latin American and Peninsular Studies of the International Area Studies Program at Yale University completing post-graduate courses in European Studies, Latin American literature, Films, and Second Language Acquisition. Dr. Acosta is a tenured professor and chair of the Department of Modern Languages & Cultures at College of the Canyons (COC) since 1998. She has extensive experience teaching and developing programs abroad. At COC, she is Co-Chair of the College Planning Team and Education Travel Advisory Committee. She is currently the president of the Santa Clarita Sister Cities and Santa Clarita Valley International Program (SCVIP) where she has been a member of the executive advisory board since 2003. Through this program she leads the global collaborative project (literacy and humanitarian efforts) developing partnerships at the local and international level.
  • SanaI'm a student at college of the canyons, this is my third and last year before transferring. I am double majoring in communication studies and Administration to the justice system. I am also a student worker here on campus at the International Services Programs. Alongside classes and work, I am the president of the communication studies club and Sigma Chi Eta.
  • Magda

    Magda is a 17-year-old high school student, social entrepreneur, TEDx speaker, and event organizer at the beginning of her entrepreneurial career. A few months ago, she founded Open Coffee Youth, a global organization that hosts networking events for students around the world. Since the beginning of October 2020, they have conducted meetings for more than 500 young people from all over the world, opening local branches in more than 10 cities in Poland, as well as in the United States, Canada, India, Hong Kong, South Korea, and soon in Tunisia, Indonesia, UAE, Kenya and the Netherlands. In addition, she has had the opportunity to be a speaker at events and conferences related to education and entrepreneurship.

    For over a year she has been doing an internship and gaining experience under the guidance of Richard Lucas, a well-known Polish-British businessman and entrepreneur. Magda also works with startups, being a member of the #OMGKRK Supporting Foundation team. For the last year she was also involved in communities such as TeenCrunch, and Our Future Foundation, among others.

    Click here to watch Magda's TEDx Talk: "It's time for networking meet-ups organised by and for young people"

  • Prakash

    Prakash Chandra Giri is the Principal at Goodwill Activity School and a lecturer in English at Gupteshwor Mahadev Multiple Campus, both in Pokhara, Nepal. He is also a research scholar at Nepal Open University, Kathmandu, Nepal. Prakash won a British Council award in 2017 for bringing an international dimension in the local curriculum. He was involved as an English Access Micro-Scholarship instructor for about four years in Nepal. He is a TESOL-certified English Teacher and a life member of the Nepal English Language Teachers' Association, Prakash has completed online training in professional development for teacher trainers (validated by Arizona State University, USA) and in teaching local language literacy and second-language teacher training (Literacy International, Tulsa, USA.) Prakash has presented papers at various regional, national and international conferences and is particularly interested in exploring applications of open-source software and online tools.

    Facebook // LinkedIn

  • Dr. Jia-Yi Cheng-LevineDr. Jia-Yi Cheng-Levine is the Dean of International Affairs & Global Engagement at College of the Canyons, in Santa Clarita, California. Prior to that role, she was director of the international students program at COC and has been at COC for over 15 years. She came to COC from the University of Houston-Downtown as a Professor of English and has been an instructor in the field for nearly 25 years. A native of Taiwan and an international student herself, Dr. Cheng-Levine earned her Doctor of Philosophy in English Language and Literature, with a special emphasis on Critical Theory, from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, after having earned her M.A. in English from the University of Georgia.
  • CameronCameron Cruz (he/him) is currently a Sophomore at College of the Canyons majoring in Business Administration for transfer as well as pursuing a second Associates Degree in Marketing. Cameron currently is a college assistant for the International Services and Programs office at College of the Canyons helping with research, projects, events, and their Intensive English Learning Program (IELP).
  • Jeffrey

    Jeffrey Forrest serves as Director of Older Youth Initiatives with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. The goal of the Older Youth Initiatives Program is to work with agencies and stakeholders to create and deliver educational and career opportunities to Foster and Opportunity Youth in North America and Africa.

    Prior to this role, Jeffrey was the Vice-President of economic Development for College of the Canyons. During his tenure he created partnerships with hundreds of companies, community-based organizations, government entities throughout Southern California to advance the efforts of the community college in providing workforce development solutions that lead to economic growth and prosperity for the region.

    In August 2017, Jeffrey co-founded the Strong Workforce Apprenticeship Group (SWAG). SWAG partners with employers to fill their critical needs through apprenticeship. More than 80% of its current apprentices are minorities, women or Veterans. Because of its success, in March 2018, Jeffrey was invited to testify on Capitol Hill on the benefits of apprenticeship to small business.

    Jeffrey believes that providing access to a quality education is critical to creating strong communities, and key to the long-term growth of the nation’s economy. He has a Bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and an MBA from Lindenwood University. Jeffrey also possesses a Masters of Divinity degree (MDiv.) from Louisiana Baptist Theological Seminary.

  • Dr. Tim HonadelTim Honadel is a life-long educator currently working at the College of the Canyons in the International Student program. He has worked in dozens of countries spanning decades of his career. Tim has worked on environmental sustainability and compliance issues for private industry, state and local governments, and not-for-profit organizations.
  • KaylaHi everyone, my name is Kayla May Jaramillo, and I am currently in my third year here at COC. I am currently the ASG Executive VP of Activities, and it is also my third year being a part of ASG. I am a proud Filipino American pursuing a degree in Nursing! Some things I love doing include helping others, listening to music, and having picnics.
  • Nova

    Nova Mandel (they/them, she/her) is currently in her third semester at College of the Canyons and is majoring in Global Studies. She is currently a college assistant for International Services & Programs at College of the Canyons, assisting with web design, research, data management, events, and their Intensive English Language Program (IELP).

    She is a member of Sigma Delta Mu, which recognizes excellence in Spanish among the student population of higher education, as well as Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, the international honor society of students studying at two-year colleges. Nova has also been volunteering for nine years at A Noise Within, a classical theatre in Pasadena, CA.

    Nova's studies at COC focus on the social sciences and humanities, with a particular interest in how we can help make the world better for all people. She recently wrote a research paper on how communities can best support families to keep children out of foster care and is currently working on an article about how the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles contributes to educating people on the history of the holocaust and how all issues of discrimination and prejudice are interrelated.

  • SabBorn and raised in Kobe, Japan, Dr. Sab Matsumoto came to the United States as a high school student at age 15. He has an M.S. from Virginia Tech and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, both in mathematics. Before joining the faculty at College of the Canyons, Sab worked as a research fellow in pure mathematics at the University of Melbourne (Australia) and Tokyo Institute of Technology (Japan) and then as a full-time instructor at Belhaven College (Jackson, Mississippi) and The Master’s College (Newhall, California). Sab worked as Chair of the Mathematics Department for four years at COC; currently he is serving as the AB 705 math faculty coordinator, an Academic Senator, and a member of the Curriculum Committee. As a former ESL student who struggled with the English language and an F1 student living far away from home, Sab has a passion for helping international students. He is also involved with recent efforts to bring more overseas students to COC.
  • JasonJason Oliver is a full-time Architecture professor at College of the Canyons and Chair of the Architecture and Interior Design Program as well as a California licensed Architect with over 25 years of professional experience and LEED Accredited Professional in Building Design + Construction. Jason began his education studying architectural drafting at Los Angeles Pierce College in the early 1990s and then transferred to the University of Colorado where he earned a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Design (B.Envd) and a Master's degree in Architecture (M.Arch). Jason's current academic focus is on infusing sustainable design principles into every phase of the learning process.
  • KatherineDr. Katherine Punteney is a Professor and founder of the MA in International Education Management program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) in Monterey, California. Katherine has more than 20 years of experience in the field of international education and is the author of NAFSA's The International Education Handbook: Principles and Practices of the Field. As a scholar-practitioner, she focuses on supporting emerging professionals in their career development. Her research focuses on internationalization, intercultural competence, and graduate education.
  • BrentDr. Brent Riffel has taught American History and the History of the Middle East at College of the Canyons since 2008. Since 2015, he’s been the co-coordinator of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. Among other activities, he also participates in the International Film Series, the SYNERGY Program, faculty mentorship, and is a LEAP graduate. A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, he holds a doctorate in modern American History from the University of Arkansas, where he specialized in labor and race relations in the contemporary South. He has published articles in, among other publications, Southern Historian, the African American National Biography, the Arkansas Historical Quarterly, the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, the Ozark Historical Quarterly, and in the recent collection, Arsnick: The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Arkansas, 1962-1967. He also served as chief researcher for An Arkansas History for Young People, Fourth Edition, published by the University of Arkansas Press.
  • HeatherHeather Singmaster is Director of Career and Technical Education (CTE) and the Global Cities Education Network, in the Center for Global Education at the Asia Society, where her work focuses on international benchmarking and integrating global competence into CTE programs as well as state and national policy. Heather leads the Global Cities Education Network (GCEN), a network of international cities focused on best practice sharing in education. She speaks and writes regularly on global education, including as the former host of Education Week's Global Learning blog. Heather holds a Masters degree focused in Anthropology from New York University and a Bachelors degree in International Affairs from George Washington University.
  • Russell

    Russell A. Waldon is the Dean of the Global Learning Programs and Services Division at Skyline College, San Mateo County Community College District, in San Bruno, CA. The division is responsible for the administration of the District’s Study Abroad program, Skyline College’s International Student Program, and other globally facing programs.

    He is the former Dean of the School of Business at College of the Canyons, Santa Clarita Community College District, where he also served as department chair for the Business Department, the Real Estate Department, and lead faculty for International Business/Business Law.

    Dean Waldon previously served as an international trade consultant with the Center for International Trade Development/California-Mexico Trade Assistance Center for Citrus College in Glendora, CA. He was also a Coordinator for Pacific Rim Operations at Learning Tree International, Inc., and then Director for Government Relations with IEC, Inc., an international manufacturing company headquartered in Los Angeles. He practiced law primarily in the areas of contracts and civil rights and was a Bureau Chief for Civil Rights for the Florida Department of Transportation.

    He earned his Bachelor of Business Administration (International Finance and Marketing) from the University of Miami (Florida). He earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Notre Dame Law School where he participated in the Concannon Programme of International Law in London, England.

  • Chef Michelle Lainez
    Michelle is a caterer who advocates zero waste and conscious eating (eating local and farming sustainably) while creating magical, one-of-a-kind events. Through her company, she also teaches these practices in home educational cooking classes.  

    Michelle is an active member of her community. She sits on the board of Hope Street Family Center where she has launched a cooking class series for low-income families. She's been a long-standing member and contributor for chefs collaborative and Women's Chefs and Restaurateurs.



Past IFY Events

2020 Nov 16-19


2019 Sep 9-12

2019 International Forum on Youth Flyer pg1




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