Merced County Times Newspaper
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Students line up in the quad to get their sandwiches. 

A welcome break during ‘cram week’ at Merced College




Merced College students faced the intensity of final exams this week before the big holiday break.  

Tensions were running high during the days leading up to finals — known as “cram week” — as students filled the library and other study areas into the late hours. 

“I am running on coffee and will power at this point,” one student told a Times reporter. “Everything we have learned for the past four months in the class is put into one test; it’s nerve-racking.”

No other organization understands the stress of cram and finals week better than the Associated Students of Merced College. ASMC consists of students at Merced College who get elected to student government each year. To help students through these trying times, ASMC President Sarah Lacko started an initiative to help relieve some of the stress.

ASMC partnered with the campus police department, and they both organized an incredible tri-tip lunch on campus for more than 300 students.

“Merced College is such a special place,” Lacko said. “Community is the first word that comes to mind when I think about the college. People come here from all over Merced County with a unified goal, to further their education. There are so many different clubs and hangout areas here, everyone finds their niche. We wouldn’t have a vibrant campus without students. We want to give back and let our students know they are appreciated, and that all their work is going to be worth it.”

It was all hands-on deck for Officer Keith Reig and his team as they cooked more than 140 pounds of Central Valley-raised tri-tip over an open BBQ pit on the foggy morning of Dec. 7. Officer Reig grew up in Southern California before finding a home here in Merced. He has been serving the Merced College campus for the past four and a half years.

“We jump at any opportunity to be involved with the students on campus,” Reig said. “We want to get our face out there; it builds a good rapport with the students which is so important.”

Students filled the quad as they lined up to get their free sandwiches between classes. From first year to returning students, from philosophy majors to automotive trade students, they all lined up together to take a break from the stresses of schoolwork and share a meal together.

A hungry, second-year business major by the name of Jonson Yu relaxed between his classes. He sat down with his group of friends who had also stopped by the quad to pick up sandwiches.

“It’s nice to feel appreciated,” Yu said. “It’s a good way to give the students a little boost before finals.”

When asked about what it means to see campus police engaging with students, Yu said: “It’s awesome. To be able to pass by a familiar face on campus helps build a sense of community. It’s important to know the people who show up every day to protect us.”

The oasis Yu found in food and friends was short-lived. He wiped the BBQ sauce off his hands and hustled to his next class.

The Fall 2022 semester at Merced College comes to a close, but ambitious Student Body President Lacko has so much more planned for the upcoming 2023 spring semester. When asked what future events students can look forward to, Lacko responded, “The whole student government is working so hard to get events back on campus after COVID-19. Student engagement is a priority for us. I don’t want to give too much away right now, but we have something in the works that I feel is going to be big.”

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