“The end is in the beginning.”
Those were the opening words of President Regina Stanback Stroud in her address to faculty and staff at the fall 2017 Opening Day celebration. The day’s program underscored the importance of intentionality in everything we do and challenged us to lead with clear purpose and impactful action.
“Setting a design for your college—a design rooted in an equity framework—that can enable students to get in, get through and graduate on time—starts and ends with leadership to get you there and keep you there,” Dr. Stanback Stroud stated.
As we begin another year, we are reminded that we are not just part of another initiative – we are part of a movement, one that is beginning, and continuing, simultaneously, every single day.
The Power of Community College
That movement – one that succeeds only when students do – was illustrated beautifully by keynote speaker Dr. Paul Hernandez, who stands as an example of what can happen when community colleges do right by their students and when teachers ensure that their students feel they belong in college.
Dr. Hernandez is a nationally recognized speaker and leader in college access and success, community outreach and pedagogy for educators working with underserved/underprepared students and students at risk of dropping out of school. But prior to earning his degrees, he was engulfed in gang culture and deep poverty, surviving on the streets of Los Angeles. Since then he has learned ways to empower young people traveling a similar path.
Dr. Hernandez shared his deeply personal story, highlighting three community college professors who helped to shape his future. Each of them, in different ways, challenged him to become his own man – to take notes, to learn to write well, to ask questions, to exercise freedom, to become a voice for people who don’t have one. They inspired Dr. Hernandez to tell his own story, so that he could become an example for those who would follow.
The Work We Do
Dr. Hernandez’s story is unique, but it highlights the necessity to see the stories behind each and every student at Skyline College. Every student on campus represents the culmination of many pathways, converging for a moment in a classroom or an office or on a field. Striving to recognize that – to concentrate on the who we’re teaching, as opposed to what we’re teaching – is perhaps one of the most essential parts of the work we all do at Skyline College.
Article by Connor Fitzpatrick