Jim Gaston continues to create

MySite is the student Web portal used for both Saddleback College and IVC (Lariat archives)

Sarah Kovash

If you have ever used MySite to register for classes, check grades or check your e-mail, give thanks to Jim Gaston.

Gaston is the Associate Director of Information Technology at the South Orange County Community College District and has been a main contributor to online programs such as MySite and most recently My Academic Plan (MAP).

“MAP is the coolest thing we’ve ever done,” Gaston said. “I think the reason MAP is so cool isn’t just because of the technology, but because of all the hard work the counselors put into it to make it a useful tool.”

MAP is a new program that is available through student’s MySite accounts that helps them pick the best classes for their major according to where they plan to transfer.

The hope is that MAP will allow students to maximize their time with their academic advisors.

“A computer can do the clerical work for us. That’s what MAP can do”, said Steve Handa, a counselor at Saddleback College. “MAP can lead to more discussion with counselors”.

Handa worked with Gaston and others to create MAP in order to help students who know what their major is and where they want to transfer.

Many counselors and more than 400 students were involved in the creation of MAP to ensure its effectiveness. A team tested out the program while it was in production to make sure the it was able to perform its tasks.

Shortly after it was completed last April, MAP won the Focus Award. In addition, over 17,000 academic plans have been created with MAP.

MAP is just one of many programs that Gaston has helped to create after his two decades of work at the South Orange County Community College District.

The 17,000 academic plans created with MAP contrast largely with the 50 or 60 people who used the computer systems he helped produce 20 years ago.

Saddleback was one of the first communty colleges to make information available to students online.

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