The Coast News Group
Fabi Redding is a member of the Computer Studies and Information Technology Department student club at MiraCosta helping disadvantaged students get desktop HP computers. Courtesy photo

IT students refurbish, donate computers

OCEANSIDE — Dozens of disadvantaged MiraCosta College students are getting Hewlett Packard desktop computers refurbished and upgraded by members of the Computer Studies and Information Technology Department student club, Club IT, after being discarded by a local business that closed its doors.

“This is truly an amazing story,” said Rick Cassoni, a computer studies and information technology professor who also serves as the advisor to Club IT. “I’m really proud of our students and I’m really amazed by their passion to volunteer their time to help others.”

The 38 HP computers, monitors and keyboards were left in a local office after a company shut its doors last spring. Rather than discard the desktops, the building’s landlord donated them to the MiraCosta College Foundation, which then forwarded them to the Computer Studies and Information Technology department. Beginning this fall, approximately a half dozen volunteers with Club IT scrubbed the memory from the hard drives, made necessary repairs, and installed a new Windows 10 operating system in each unit.

The computers then went to Extended Opportunity Programs & Services (EOPS), a state-funded program supporting students from traditionally underserved communities, including those who are struggling financially. EOPS is connecting students with computers based on need, and five computers have found new homes so far.

“The impact on our students is huge since we have a large number of students who don’t have a computer at home, or one that is fast, and have to come to campus to access a computer,” said EOPS Faculty Director Yesenia Balcazar. “Some of these students also have children or work fulltime, making it even harder to come to campus. Students benefiting from a free computer will no longer have to stress about having to come to school during late hours or on the weekends because they will now have a computer at home.”

EOPS students aren’t the only ones benefitting from the donations. “I’ve never done anything like this before,” said Sarah Davis, a returning student majoring in cybersecurity who has been working on the restoration project. “Not only is it a great learning experiences that reinforces what’s being taught in the classroom, it is absolutely wonderful to be able to help another student. I couldn’t imagine being in college and not having a computer. I feel blessed being able to help.”

Cassoni praised those who spent hours restoring the systems. “These are students who are busy with their lives, who have jobs, who are going to school, who may have children they’re raising, and they’re not getting any grade for this or any kind of extra credit,” Cassoni said. “They’re doing this because they have a passion for others and a passion for learning.”

Balcazar and Cassoni are hoping all 38 desktops will be upgraded and distributed by the end of the spring semester.

“There are key times in your life where you’re faced with a win, win, win situation and this is one of them,” added Cassoni. “These computers did not go to a landfill or contribute to e-waste, we were able to provide several students with invaluable experience in repairing and refurbishing computers and we’re providing like-new computers to students who otherwise would not be able to afford them.”