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To inform readers about the candidates seeking their votes on the November ballot, the San Antonio Report asked all candidates to answer the following questions. We edited answers for clarity, not substance or grammar, and we did not fact-check responses. We restricted responses to 200 words for each question.
Read other candidates’ answers here.
Alamo Colleges, District 4
Link to campaign website:
What is your educational background? Where did you go to school growing up and what is the highest level of education you completed?
I received my primary education primarily in Los Angeles, and my secondary education in San Antonio. For 7th – 8th grades, I attended Harlandale Middle School. For 9th – 12th grades, I attended Harlandale High School, where I graduated 5th out of 365 students. As a senior at Harlandale, I was a teen mom, but I didn’t let that deter me from successfully completing two Palo Alto College courses in the ACCD dual-college credit program. The highest level of education I completed is earning a doctoral degree while working a full-time job and raising a family as a single mother.
If you have completed higher education, what degrees or certifications have you earned and from where? In what years did you complete these degrees or certifications?
B.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania, 1992
M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University, 1995
Ph.D. in Business & Leadership Studies from Our Lady of the Lake University, 2010
What is your current occupation, employer, and job title?
I work part-time at Texas A&M University – San Antonio as an adjunct faculty member in the communications department, and I work full-time at VIA Metropolitan Transit as communications manager and public information officer.
List any previous elected offices that you held and the term you held that office. List any elected offices you sought and the years you sought those offices.
I sought the office of ACCD Trustee – District 4 in 2014.
Why do you feel you are the best candidate for the office you are seeking?
I have 20 years of experience teaching at local colleges. I’ve learned what inspires students or discourages them. I’ve spoken with their parents about their concerns. I’ve been blessed to learn from fellow faculty members how to enhance students’ academic journeys. I’ve spoken with staff members who’ve shared their ideas on programs and initiatives. I’ve listened to business leaders share how important it is for students to leave college with the tools to succeed. And, I’ve personally witnessed the positive impact that a college education can make on a student and his/her family. I’ve kept in touch with former students, and it’s been a point of pride to see them pursue their careers.
I can relate to many of our ACCD students, especially the large percentage of non-traditional students who juggle jobs and family with school. As the first person in my family to earn a degree, I recall the struggle to get there. My family lived in government housing, and I quickly realized that the best way to move up in the world was by securing an education. I see that spark in my students’ eyes. They, too, have come to the realization that education is the great equalizer.
What three issues do you feel are most important to your constituents?
My constituents include people from all walks of life and diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. District 4 covers the southwest sector, and reaches the Alamo Ranch area.
There are three issues that they have in common:
1) They want San Antonio to be the best city it can be and care about the future of their family, and that requires an educated workforce. Whether an ACCD student is pursuing a trade, skill, or certificate, or a two-year degree that’ll lead to a four-year degree, their training and education will impact how far our economic development will reach.
2) They are worried about how to manage their classes during the pandemic, when many of them are also working from home and helping their own kids take classes online. ACCD student support services are key to help ensure they succeed.
3) They don’t want ACCD taxes to increase. Many are concerned because they are older adults with limited resources, or they’ve lost their jobs during the pandemic. They can’t afford to pay higher taxes.
If you are elected, what will be your top priorities once you take office?
My top priorities would be the following:
- Provide our students the best education possible without raising taxes, especially during these uncertain times when many people in our community have lost their jobs due to the pandemic;
- Facilitate increased partnership with the corporate and non-profit sectors to ensure ACCD curriculum and faculty roster are keeping up with the workforce needs of today and tomorrow;
- Expand the real-world work experience of students during their collegiate journey, so upon graduation they may identify job opportunities and enhance our city’s economic development;
- Increase human and financial resources through the ACCD student advocacy centers to maintain student retention and success, especially during the pandemic when many are facing extraordinary challenges;
- Ensure long-term funding is secured for the AlamoPROMISE program, which makes college more accessible to graduating seniors; and
- Identify resources to provide low-cost or free instructional materials and resources, including electronic textbooks, online educational videos, and other innovative academic tools.
For incumbents: What accomplishments are you most proud of during your time in office? Is there any vote or decision you would change now looking back?
For non-incumbents: Would you do anything differently from the current representative holding the office you’re seeking?
As the district 4 ACCD trustee, I’d host quarterly Zoom meetings to share the latest news from ACCD, especially right now during the pandemic when so many people are in quarantine and may feel alienated from the district, and I’d seek public input and respond to concerns from community members, business leaders, parents, faculty, staff, and students. I’d also create a special Facebook page to share frequent updates and important information regarding ACCD resources and initiatives.
In addition, I’d participate in Neighborhood Association and HOA meetings to seek our community leaders’ input on ACCD programs and initiatives. I’d also create and send out an online survey to current students, faculty, and staff, as well as alumni, to secure their feedback and ideas on where ACCD has been and where it is going. A thorough analysis of the results of the survey would help inform, affirm, and highlight what is working, what merits attention, and what needs to be reassessed. I’d also hold special meetings with my fellow Board members individually to learn about their experiences and vision.
How do you assess your community college district or school district’s performance during the pandemic and the way it served students?
ACCD had to pivot and assess the student body’s immediate needs. It also had to ensure that faculty/staff received the training and resources to switch from an in-person setting to remote. They especially had to reach out to the some of the most vulnerable students, particularly the ones with no technology resources (no computers; no WiFi). There was a time of adjustment for everyone, but they moved forward and arrived at innovative ways of addressing the gaps. ACCD partnered with school districts to provide WiFi hotspots.
The City and County dedicated a portion of their Federal CARES Act emergency aid funds for workforce development, so ACCD and other partners could provide fast-track training to students in “COVID-resilient” industries, including I.T., manufacturing, health care, and construction. ACCD also strengthened its Student Advocacy Centers at all five colleges. They are run by the Food Bank and ACCD. ACCD Foundation created the COVID-19 Student Impact Fund in response to the pandemic. It’s funded with half a million dollars from private funds. ACCD also reallocated $10 million from its budget to spring-enrolled students to take three courses for free during the summer. The ACCD Board continues to identify other resources to help ensure student success, despite the pandemic.
How will you approach budgeting for your district given the economic uncertainties? What are your budget priorities you would want to keep intact?
I would approach budgeting with a plan that would decrease non-urgent expenses, and allow for providing the resources needed to ensure our students succeed in spite of the challenges that the pandemic has brought with it. My budget priorities would be to ensure students, faculty, and staff have the necessary technology resources and support, so that remote classes and ACCD operations continue to progress. I would follow the lead from the ACCD Board’s action during the pandemic to continue with a hiring freeze, conduct no travel, and attend no conferences, as well as cut any other non-essential expenses. Because 22 percent of ACCD’s budget comes from the State, it would be imperative to normalize operations to continue to have an aggressive posture to serve the community. And because none of us know when the pandemic will subside, ACCD must plan for the worst, as it prays for the best. A contingency fund must be maintained to ensure student success is uncompromised by COVID-19 or any other unprecedented challenges.
How do you plan to work to overcome academic gaps that may have developed or widened during the pandemic?
There are several ways that I plan to work to overcome academic gaps that may have developed or widened during the pandemic at ACCD:
- Reach out to students who didn’t pass a course in the spring or summer semester, and/or didn’t re-enroll the following semester. Offer them guidance and assistance to facilitate their return to ACCD, including counseling services, tutoring services, and financial aid resources.
- Maintain contact with vulnerable students throughout the semester.
- Provide students more course options that allow flexibility, so they may fit into their schedules because many of them now have the added responsibility of providing home child care and adult care due to the pandemic.
- Collaborate with other organizations that offer support services to help the students weather this storm, including the SA Food Bank, University Health System, and others.