College STEM Center paves way for emerging physicist

COMPTON — Tre Willingham, president of the Compton College STEM Club, will graduate with multiple associate of science degrees in June, continuing on as a physics major at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona this fall.

Willingham is interested in particle physics, optics, and electromagnetic applications.

 “I’m motivated by things that challenge me,” said Willingham. “The detail involved in physics is what attracted me to this field. For me, it’s all about the details. I observe everything, even

Tre Willingham. Photo courtesy Compton College

the smallest details. It’s important to leave no stone unturned.”

The Gardena resident grew up in Littleton, Colorado. After graduating from high school, he went through a “rough spot,” put his education on hold, and tried to make ends meet by working odd jobs from 2012-2017.

Shortly after moving to California, he enrolled at Compton College and settled on a career path through his proficiency in mathematics.

“Mathematics helped me realize I needed to take physics because through scientific model- ing you can discover why and how things happen.”

Willingham exudes excitement when he talks about the physics projects he has worked on as a member of the Compton College STEM Club. The college’s STEM Center and club provide support to students who are majoring in mathematics, physics, engineering, biology and physical sciences so they can excel academically and transfer to four-year universities.


Students in the STEM Club have the opportunity to get hands-on experience with science and engineering projects throughout the academic year.

Currently, Willingham and a small group of club members are building a 20-foot-long bipropel- lant liquid oxygen rocket with the guidance of Kent Schwitkis, physics professor and STEM Club advisor. The project has received support from businesses, and funding from a local entrepreneur who wanted to help build a legacy for college students of color pursuing STEM careers.


During the pandemic, the team worked virtually on the project. Over the past several months they have come together in person for better collaboration, making significant progress on the rocket and have set mile- stones for the upcoming fall semester. The team has maintained project logs for the next team of students to advance the project. The first static test fire of the rocket is targeted for late 2021.

Willingham will be gone, but says he will still be involved with the project.

“I plan to still contribute to this rocket project when I can and apply the new knowledge I gain while attending Cal Poly Pomona,” he said. Willingham worked on campus as a mathematics and physics tutor. He said the experience helped him balance his financial and academic demands.

“My academic accomplishments have not been a singular effort,” said Willingham. “I’ve had a lot of support from key people in my life including my academic counselor, physics professor, and STEM Center program specialist at Compton College. They have all played a role in my success.”

Willingham encourages students who face barriers or delays in obtaining their education to reach out for help, ask questions, and to take advantage of the college’s available resources.

Student beats odds for success


Jessica Ramos. Compton College Photo College

COMPTON (MNS) — Jessica Ramos embarked on what many might call an improbable mission a few years ago, mired in a bog of circumstance of little means and a dreary future at best. But amid the darkness, she found a streak of light and followed its path.

“It blows my mind!” Ramos said. “I’m a single mother who went from having no high school diploma, no job, no transportation, and no means to support my family, to now having a job, graduating from community college, and transferring to a university this fall.”

Ramos, a mother of two, is a member of Compton College graduating class of 2021. She will receive an associate of arts degree in business administration this month. She was also accepted to California State University, Dominguez Hills, where he will explore several career options.

“I still have a lot of things I want to accomplish and the first big step is transferring this fall to the university,” she said.

Ramos was awarded two scholarships through the CalWORKs public assistance program: a $250 scholarship through Compton College’s CalWORKs Office, and a $500 CalWORKs 2021 Student

California community college students in the CalWORKs program were awarded 2021 scholarships among those thaVoices Scholarship by the CalWORKs Association Board. Only 23t applied.

As a single mother and domestic abuse survivor, Ramos has overcome the odds to earn an associate degree and continue her journey to self-sufficiency through education. CalWORKs data reveals that 1-in-5 college students is parenting a child, but only 8 percent of single moms earn a degree within six years.

A high school dropout at age 15, Ramos attempted to resume her education, but stalled when she birthed her first child. She eventually earned a high school diploma from Paramount Adult School after her second child was born.

“My marriage was full of abuse and manipulation brought on by my ex-husband’s drug and alcohol abuse,” she said. She finally broke free of the marriage, enduring a painful divorce. “I fear[ed] losing my kids, [suffered] depression, anxiety, and financial crisis.” 

Realizing she needed to find a way to provide for herself and her kids, Ramos had heard about public assistance and available resources to help her get a college education to gain skills for employment. She also began to realize she needed access to mental health resources. She decided to go to the county public assistance office where she was enrolled in the GAIN program and referred to a variety of resources such as domestic violence counseling, individual therapy, and CalWORKs. In 2018, she enrolled at Compton College to begin her transformation through higher education. 

Ramos displays an incredible attitude about the obstacles she has overcome. “For me, every single life experience I have encountered has led me to become the super mom I am; my superpower is resilience,” she said.


That  resilience was tested when the father of Ramos’ children passed away. But this time, Ramos knew what to do.

“I reached out and asked for help, which is a difficult thing for people of my culture,” she said. I believe part of having the superpower of resilience is knowing when to ask for help.”

Compton College CalWORKs staff helped Ramos during this difficult time and assisted her in getting the care she needed. They referred her to counseling and helped her find a therapist she was comfortable with.

“I am a proud CalWORKs student; CalWORKs saved my life,” she said.

The CalWORKs office at Compton College has helped Ramos in many ways and she considers the staff her second family, crediting the staff with helping her to navigate college life and to keep on track. Ramos currently works for the college CalWORKs Office as a student ambassador. She began working in the office in fall 2020, working the front desk, helping students register for workshops, setting up appointments, and creating documents and flyers.

“Working in the office, I’ve grown so much and I am learning new skills,” she said. “I’m happy to have the chance to pay forward all that CalWORKs has done for me by helping other students.”

Ramos has also used many other student support services at Compton College to aid in her success, such as the Transfer Center for the university application process, academic counseling, the Library-Student Success Center as a quiet study space, and the state-funded Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) and Cooperative Agencies Resources for Education (CARE) for extra financial and academic support.

“The sense of community and respect on campus and seeing the same friendly faces every day is what I like best about Compton College,” said Ramos. “If I asked for help, it was always given to me.

“I’m looking forward to my upcoming Compton College virtual commencement ceremony,” she said. “I will have my kids close during the ceremony and I can share intimately that moment of celebration with them.”

 Metropolis News Service. 

Rams ‘Fan of the Year’ — Compton firefighter Deonte McReynolds


Deonte McReynolds was surprised by a visit to Fire Station No. 2 by the Rams mascot to announce his selection as “Fan of the Year.” Courtesy Los Angeles Rams


Firefighter, Compton native lifelong Rams fan


COMPTON (MNS) — The Los Angeles Rams have named Compton firefighter Deonte McReynolds, “Fan of the Year.”

McReynolds, an 11-year veteran of the Compton Fire Department, and a lifelong Rams fan, was born and raised in Compton, His wife ,Brittany, who submitted his nomination for the title, said her husband wears his Rams jersey every game day, “even if he has to work at the fire station.”

The Rams, who moved back home to Los Angeles in 2016, “Are a huge part of my husband’s identity,” Brittany added. “They give him hope. I can remember when we moved my grandmother from Houston to Los Angeles driving a U-Haul that broke down, my husband didn't fret because we got to watch the Rams-Tampa Bay game in the truck on the iPad.

“As a firefighter for an underserved community, my husband goes to work day in and day out giving his all to a community that is so often neglected and forgotten and he does it so proudly,” said Brittany. “He exemplifies a super fan and I truly am his because of all of those things.”

The Rams surprised Deonte at his fire station to break the news to him, and Safety John Johnson, III face-timed him to break the news of his selection as Fan of the Year. With the honor  comes a tour of SoFi Stadium. Rampage, the Rams mascot also made a surprise visit to the station to present Deonte with a personalized jersey and a $500 fan shop gift card.

Metropolis News Service.