- Tell us a little about yourself – something unique.
I was Vice-president for Student Services at Southeast HCC from 2017-19. I was born in San Antonio. I am the youngest of five children. I am married for 36 years. My husband is a retired Marine. We moved 16 times and I am a mother with seven children and three beautiful grandchildren. As a college professor, I taught Sociology and Human Development
What is unique about me is that I am a first t generation college graduate. My dad only attended school until the six grade and my mother attended school up to the eighth grade. My father was one out of eight children and all of them were raised in an abandoned train caboose in Mexico. After they immigrated to the San Antonio, I attended Texas A &M. I was the only Latina in the A & M Military Corps Cadet. Later, I met my future husband. I recalled that I experienced discrimination at Texas A & M. This university was not ready for a Latina. These experiences only made me stronger and more determine to graduate.
- What is your transformation vision for HCC-SE?
I vision for HCC Southeast is to build better community relationships. To get closer to community members and interact with them professionally – to help them understand that we can work together to let students know that HCC SE offers great courses for the jobs of the future – careers – jointly, we need to start exposing young community students starting in elementary. We, HCC SE is the vehicle to careers in science and manufacturing, certifications from welding to nursing, and these jobs lead to strong economic development. We must also help all students understand the value of an education. We need to give them an opportunity and show them the benefits of HCC community colleges – cheaper and with great courses for career and university pathways.
- What are your two main goals for this year?
My first goal is to build stronger and closer Pre-K-12 relationships with the surrounding elementary and secondary schools.
My second specific goal is to work closely and interact frequently with community-based organizations -like Ripley House – The Houston Food Bank and others – to provide resources and support to our students including mental health resources.
- What is your strategic plan to address the 70% dropout rate?
Not sure what the specific drop-out rate for this campus; however, we do need to help all students remain as students at HCC SE by helping them persist and support them with our great teaching staff and resources.
We need to be innovative and learn from other community colleges across the country. Some are successful with – 10-week classes – 6 weeks classes – and Weekend Colleges – as oppose to the rigorous 16 – week classes to receive credit.
We need to customize learning for those students who work and can only attend classes in the evening or on the weekends.
In addition, we will connect resources to potential drop outs by providing (wrap-around) support services. This is a priority. Also, I will put HCC SE advisors in our area high schools to meet and assist individually with students.
- What is your strategic plan to increase certifications in the nursing program?
The first step to address this issue is to Increase awareness – let potential nursing or medical field students know the different pathways. This starts in area high schools in the 9th grade. We work closely with high school counselors to provide the correct information for medical or nursing prep courses. It is important to help meet the huge demand for bilingual nurses in our own medical center. This is an admirable and well-paying profession. But, again – awareness is the first step.
- Any final words of wisdom?
I look forward to working with LULAC, community organizations, and HISD.
Tell our community – “Si Se Puede!” and “Be a Leader – Not a Follower”.
Thank you! for your time and service to our community,
Dr. Sergio Lira
Education Consultant, Que Onda Magazine writer.