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AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH DR. ADRIANA TAMEZ HOUSTON COMMUNITY COLLEGE TRUSTEE, DRISTRICT 3

Que Onda mi gente, today we have the lovely Adriana Tamez, better known as Dr. Tamez. Thank you so much for being here today. How are you?

 

I’m good Yuliana, thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

 

Yes! I love your shirt. It says it all. This is HCC’s Trustee for District III. As busy as you are, thank you so much for giving us this time. With that being said, first and foremost, I want to bring attention to the fact that you are known for being an advocate for educating and empowering individuals especially those who are in underserved communities.  As someone who came from a community like that, thank you for doing what you do. I know that you’re running for re-election as HCC’s Trustee for District III, so I wanted to ask you what is compelling you to run again?

 

Thank you for that question. I prayed on it and my passion as you mentioned is to education and workforce development. It’s critical to our economy and to the survival of our communities. So I prayed on it because my parents are aging, I have a 10-year-old, and my work. There’s a lot going on especially amidst COVID, but I’ve remained committed. We’ve made some great strides over the last few years at HCC financially. With our bonds, we have a triple A rating, that’s 100 million savings in debt. As far as the bonds and new facilities, on the southeast campus we have the challenger stem center that was approved and the challenger foundation is doing this in collaboration with us and then all the new facilities across the system, so there’s just so much going on. We have been able to keep tax increases low.  Actually, they haven’t been raised since I’ve been on the board and only a modest tuition height so that and the culinary art building and just so much that’s been happening. Especially our response to COVID and the fact that we’re in the midst of COVID, there is no room to go backwards. We’ve got to continue to move forward, and I’m committed to continuing to serve and to lend my expertise in the area of education and administration. There’s just too much going on, too much at stake not to run for re-election. I believe that right now leadership, experience and a proven track record is of the utmost importance on the board and we must continue to move forward at HCC, not backwards. So that is why I have decided to run, to make sure that I continue to do my part to help the college continue to move forward especially right now amidst COVID.

 

Yes, that is very important. I wanted to ask you what motivates you to keep doing what you’re doing, considering the workload and the minimal pay in this field?

 

As a board member, we actually don’t get paid, we’re volunteers. Our job is to govern and to make sure that we’re overseeing that fiscal piece. There’s policies and procedures and all of those pieces, but I’m compelled right now. We’re in the middle of a pandemic and we have to stay the course and make sure that we are setting ourselves up at the Houston Community College system to be able to offer our classes in a way that meets the needs of those who are seeking them whether online or in-person. Also, making sure that we continue to build the partnerships that we need to bring in the dollars. Right now, we have plenty of dollars that are in response to COVID. To give you an example, how we govern those dollars is critical because in the end we want them to go to the students.

 

Yes, and might I add, it truly speaks volumes that you’re doing all of this and receiving no pay. It was a shock for me to hear that board members don’t get paid, so once again, thank you for your service. What are some of your most memorable HCC accomplishments so far?

 

You know, I could work backward from when I first got on a few years ago, but I would have to say the most memorable has to be our response to disaster. From Harvey to COVID to the freeze, all of those pieces and how we’ve responded as a college to work in partnership with our community, our community leaders, and our elected officials. To making sure that for all our students, faculty and our staff we are doing our part to help those people get back on their feet so that eventually they come back to college or to a workforce program that they’ve started so for me that is our greatest accomplishment. But like I said earlier, it’s also the challenger center at the southeast college, the culinary arts brand new building at the central college, and the Coleman Medical College that’s over at the medical center. Brand new facilities in North Forest, in the southside of town, the eastside of town, and on the northside of town. I mean there are new facilities everywhere so now we’re working to make sure that we get the enrollment that we need so that people take advantage of all that we’re offering. All the classes that we have, the added programs, high technology in artificial intelligence, in cyber security, I am very proud of that. The Apple partnership that we’ve formed and entered into with PepsiCo. Foundation and just making sure that in the end, we’re financially stable. We’ve talked about the triple A rating, bond ratings, a 100 million savings in debt. All of those pieces together were so much better than we were when I first started. I am very proud of what we’ve accomplished the last 2 years with that component, the academic route and the workforce development route, all the added classes, the facilities, the buildings. Everything that goes into that piece. The other was transparency. We now post our check register online so people can see who we write the checks to. Our taxpayers should have that. Also, with purchasing, we make sure that we have systems in place. The board is only voting on a recommendation that the administration is making and that’s our involvement in that process. We’re all for workforce development, apprenticeships, internships, and overall scholarships for all of that and so I am very pleased with the work that we’ve done to this point and it’s always a “we”  because you’re not alone. I am one Trustee. It’s the administration and the board, but we’ve come a long way and there’s not a way that we can stop progressing. We have to keep moving forward, especially the fact that we’re in the midst of COVID.

 

Touching base on the COVID-19 topic, along with all of the available funding that you have at HCC, are there any COVID-19 relief funds available to those students that need it?

 

Yes, there’s plenty. There are folks out there right now that need to and want to get back to work, so this pandemic has thrown it off. It has thrown all of us off. So, we at HCC looked at our large catalog of programs and we found those that are in high demand in the industry, and we thought about how could these courses be completed quickly? But more than that, there are programs that are free. They’re free if you qualify and trust me, you will qualify. Just come and take advantage of the program called Fast Track. If you want to quickly enter a new area or career path, this program is for you.

 

Yes, I actually wanted to ask you about that particular program. I saw that HCC offered the Fast-Track Program. Could you please tell our audience more about it?

 

Yes, there’s a variety of courses. If you go online and access the link to the HCC Fast Tracking Program, you will be able to see that it is a dynamic link so it’s changing based on the people that are coming in, the need, the desire to take the classes and all. It’s constantly changing, but it’s looking at again what the industry is out there and how you can complete that quickly. Let’s say there’s a class that before you’d have to take for 6 weeks, now you can complete it in 2 weeks and so that gives you an example how fast this Fast-Track Program is. And obviously I don’t want to go through all of the classes that are available but for the audience, you can access that on the link and it will give you all of the classes, the certification classes that apply to this Fast-Track Program. And just remember, it’s free so now is the time, more than ever, to come back to school. Whether it’s the academic route or workforce route, take advantage of these dollars that are there to support you.

 

I definitely agree with that. I love how HCC seems to have so many free resources. Could you please give our audience some information on HCC’s Reskilling Program?

 

Yes, and earlier I spoke of free. FREE, FREE, FREE ladies and gentlemen. I can’t say enough about that and as I mentioned earlier, now is the best time to come back to school, to start your education, to launch your career. In addition to the fast track that I mentioned earlier, there are state dollars at HCC for those of you that had to leave school, you left school because of the pandemic, you got sidetracked, had to help your family and you want to come back. You can come back through our Reskilling Program. So, if you went to school within the last 2 years, you qualify and you can get more information at the link that will be provided to you all. Again, it’s our Reskilling Program. Anyone who was in school within the last few years, whether you were on a certification track or an academic track, you qualify for this program. We get you right back in and you really just take off wherever you left off. Again, it’s free.

 

I love to hear that. Also, along with so many free resources, I see that you guys have many partnerships for different scholarships, the PepsiCo. Foundation being one of them . Could you please elaborate more on this particular scholarship and also any other ones that you guys have available?

 

Absolutely. We have the HCC Foundation who are an incredible board and team that works hand in hand with HCC to enter into these relationships and these partnerships. The latest one is the PepsiCo. Foundation and we’re very excited. It’s a $600,000 donation that the foundation made to HCC for scholarships. This is for students in certain key jobs sectors with tons of jobs. All of that is still being formulated but it’s available. So, if you come and ask for that particular foundation money being the PepsiCo Foundation scholarship, then you qualify for the jobs that PepsiCo is working with to identify again in those key job sectors where there’s tons of jobs. So again, you get this free opportunity to enter into a particular career that then will more than likely secure you a job. And speaking of the foundation, you got lots of scholarships available, workforce programs that you can access.

 

Also, to those students in short-term programs, will they be able to access any COVID-19 relief funds if needed?

 

Absolutely. They’re absolutely available to anyone who enters through the door. I can assure you that 9 times out of 10, you will qualify. So, you’re looking at this opportunity to get back to school and have it paid for because we’re in these trying times. Funds are available and they’re ready for you! There’s one more called HCC Careers4U.

 

Oh yes! I love how not only you guys help the students who are in school but also those who are transitioning into the workforce. Could you please tell us more about HCC Careers4U?

 

Exactly, we offer that opportunity and it’s called HCC Careers4U. For that program, it’s $20 or you can apply for financial assistance, which is available and it’s free. It’s a career navigator and it helps you. So yes, you’ve obtained your certification or your 2-year Associate’s Degree, and you still need help navigating through your career that you want to pursue for you and it’s free. It’s $20 but if you can’t afford that, honestly there’s funding that can help you so that you take advantage of this career navigator that is available to you.

 

I love to hear that. I would like to give you this time Dr. Tamez to speak to our audience and give any last thoughts that you might have.

 

Absolutely. Again, I am Adriana Tamez, I am running for re-election as HCC’s Trustee District III. I have been a Trustee since 2012, an expired term and a full term and I am committed to continuing to serve. We still have so much to do; we have to continue to make sure to bring students into the college to take advantage of these funds that are available. As an educator, I am a career educator. My Doctorate is from the University of Texas at Austin in Education Administration. I have a young son, so the future and what that looks like is incredibly important and it will continue to be, especially for those most vulnerable populations. We’ve got to make sure we all work together as a community to get people into the college and they take advantage of these opportunities for college and careers. I do want to let the community know as well that we continue to take COVID very seriously in terms of what we’re doing in response to it so that we continue to educate the masses that come to us. There is an opportunity to take classes/courses in-person or online so we’re working more and more every day to make sure that we have a complete menu of courses and ways for you to access that. So, it’s up to you.  You decide in-person or online, we have it and we have it for you! And that’s why I continue to remain extremely committed to continuing to serve, to seeing the college into the future, to continue to be stronger and to make sure that we are the best college that we can be and do everything we can for our community and those that we serve amidst this pandemic. So, thank you for that Yuliana, I appreciate that.

 

On behalf of the Que Onda! Team, Thank you Dr. Tamez for this exclusive interview. 

 

Thank you. I appreciate you! Thank you Que Onda!

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