Hancock College in Santa Maria hosted Rep. Salud Carbajal for a visit April 7 to give the congressman an inside look at the college's efforts to help the community and support students during the pandemic.

Upon his arrival, Carbajal presented Hancock President and CEO Kevin Walthers with a certificate honoring the college's 100-year anniversary and its work in the community. 

"The community is so lucky to have such a great institution that has grown to meet the education needs of the region and the needs of the local community," Carbajal said. 

Walthers also brought Carbajal to the campus's COVID-19 vaccination site, which offered over 9,000 appointments during a weeklong clinic that moved to Santa Barbara this week.

"The fact that this vaccination site is a partnership between the Public Health Department and Hancock … really goes to show how valuable the college is to the community," Carbajal said.

During the visit, Carbajal noted that the college has received over $22 million in federal relief funds over the past year to provide services and assistance to students during the pandemic. 

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"I'm really grateful that the American Rescue and Economic Relief Plan from December has been able to provide some actual support to Hancock to continue their great work," Carbajal said. 

Walthers said such funds are invaluable as the college works to address the needs and perform outreach to students, especially students of color.

Administrators are planning to have students return to in-person classes by the beginning of the fall semester, he said.

"There's no greater form of equity for our college than getting students back on campus in the fall," Walthers said. 

Carbajal also was given a closer look at the project site for the new $48 million Fine Arts Complex on campus, which broke ground in September. 

On Thursday, Carbajal continued his visit to his home district at the Santa Barbara Bowl, where he shared information about forms of government assistance available to venues that are struggling. 

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Santa Maria City Reporter

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Laura Place covers city government, policy and elections in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara County. Follow her on Twitter @itslaurasplace

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