"Pursuing the Last Mile: Broadband in the Central Valley" looks at how college and university students are overcoming difficulties in digital access to continue, and even excel in, their studies during COVID-19. The pandemic has thrown a spotlight on this longstanding issue, especially difficult for students from low-income families and rural areas as well as students of color, all of whom are trying to improve their lives through education.

The three-minute video was commissioned by the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium (CVHEC) and is being distributed to area news media and elected and other leaders starting May 6. "Our hope is that the California Legislature and the federal government consider the Central Valley story in building the last mile of broadband infrastructure that has been lacking and is creating even greater disparity," said Benjamin T. Duran, Ed.D., CVHEC executive director, in a statement. "Our Central Valley students shouldn't have to prove themselves worthy of education by showing how creative they can be to secure some form of internet access. Reliable broadband should be afforded to all California students—even those who are attempting to access from our rural fields. California needs reliable broadband infrastructure to ensure all Californians are able to pursue their educational pursuits."

A COVID-impact survey of graduating high school seniors and continuing college students conducted by the California Student Aid Commission and released July 2020  shows that students' concerns over online learning during the pandemic caused them to change their academic plans. A similar survey conducted in May 2020 by the RP Group shows that African American/Black, Hispanic/Latina/o/x and American Indian students disproportionately lacked access to computers and the internet. Broadband is an equity issue that must be addressed as fall plans begin to emerge and a hybrid learning/work environment will likely be a reality.

Duran speaks more about the video and broadband access on KSEE-24's Central Valley Today Show May 6: yourcentralvalley.com/cvt/pursuing-the-last-mile-addressing-internet-disparities-in-the-central-valley/

García is certainly an example of a student overcoming obstacles. An incoming senior who is a member of the Alpha Chi Academic Honor Society and student body president for 2021-2022, she is shown in the video joining class virtually while working in a vineyard, as she has done since she was 12. bit.ly/CVHECvid-PursuingLastMile0521  

CVHEC is a 29-member strong group of community colleges and public and private four-year colleges and universities with the goal of increase the Central Valley's certificate and degree attainment rates. More at cvhec.org/


Wayne Steffen
Associate Director of Publications and Media Relations