Reid Milburn was a bright and inquisitive child who never quite fit the traditional classroom environment. The daughter of a schoolteacher, Reid read voraciously at home but struggled to stay focused in school. After dropping out of high school and getting her GED, she decided to enlist in the Air Force as the best prospect of earning money for college. Reid thrived under the rigor of the military environment. Over the course of several years, she took challenging coursework in Korean Linguistics and Electrical Engineering. Determined to study history or political science upon returning home from active military duty, Reid made the decision to attend her local community college. She assumed that the California Community Colleges would be the best, most affordable option to transfer to a four-year university, obtain her bachelor’s degree, and re-enter the workforce.
Reid walked through the doors of Columbia College convinced that in two years she would transfer with an associate degree to show for her work. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
Reid found that she had to navigate a complicated transfer pathway characterized by dictionary-sized course catalogs, week-long waits to sit down with a counselor, misinformation from well-intentioned staff, differing requirements for each college and each major, and ambiguity surrounding what military coursework would be accepted (only two physical education units of the 85 rigorous education credits she had accumulated in the military counted towards her degree).
Moreover, her small rural college did not offer a history major nor some of the courses necessary to transfer to the California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) campuses Reid had her eye on, and the general education classes needed to transfer were often filled long before she had a chance to take one.
After five years and completing more than 90 units (30 more than are required to transfer), Reid finally had completed the classes she needed to transfer.
Despite all these units and five long years, she learned that the requirements to transfer did not actually line-up with the requirements to earn an associate degree!
This fueled Reid’s desire to make the transfer pathway simpler for future generations of community college students, prompting Reid and the Student Senate for California Community Colleges to team-up with The Campaign for College Opportunity to help pass SB 1440, historic transfer reform legislation that aligns transfer coursework with an associate degree and guarantees admission to the CSU with junior standing.
The passage of SB 1440 has since created a clearer path to transfer, freeing up more seats at community colleges and CSUs each year, helping students like Reid move more quickly towards a bachelor’s degree and a well-paying job, and ensuring that their hard work at community colleges is rewarded with an associate degree. In addition to her studies, Reid was galvanized by the reality that her experience was, unfortunately, not unique and worked hard to create change so that fewer of her peers would have similar hurdles to overcome. Reid continues to advocate on behalf of community college students across the state. Thanks to Reid, California community college students will have an easier time reaching their college dreams.