Meet San Antonio College President, Dr. Naydeen González-De Jesús
A Seat at the Table with Chancellor Flores: Meet San Antonio College President, Dr. Naydeen González-De Jesús
Dr. Naydeen González-De Jesús joined the San Antonio College (SAC) family in January 2023 as the second female president in the school’s near century-long history. She has a distinguished record of service both in higher education and public diplomacy within the foreign service. Prior to coming to SAC, she served as executive vice president of student success at Milwaukee Area Technical College and as the public diplomacy officer for the U.S. Embassy in Argentina, dedicating her time to impacting the lives of students from the U.S. and abroad by creating connections and platforms for student success and faculty-led research.
“Dr. Naydeen” – as she is known around campus – is the 13th president at SAC, which is among the largest single-campus community colleges in Texas and the nation and serves close to 20,000 students each semester. In 2021, SAC received the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America's community colleges.
Dr. Naydeen and SAC student and student government leader, Desteny Espinoza, recently took part in A Seat at the Table with Chancellor Dr. Mike Flores for a conversation on their experiences at SAC and what’s ahead.
- Dr. Naydeen González-De Jesúsr, San Antonio College President
- Desteny Espinoza, San Antonio College Student, SGA President
What attracted Dr. Naydeen and Desteny to SAC
Dr. Naydeen: One of the things that pulled me to SAC is the students we serve looked like me. They sounded like me. Many of them went through many of the things that I went through. I grew up poor, I was raised by a single mom. I am the very first one in my household to pursue a higher education. So for me, it was very important to go to an institution where the students that we serve are truly the underserved. That’s the reason why I’m here. I believe in the power that education has to transform lives and the power that education has in my life. Not only in my life but in the lives that are coming after me — of my kids. Right now I can give my kids the opportunity to also pursue higher education and to see the successes in their lives. It’s all because I decided to pursue a higher education. To me, we must open doors of opportunity for that to occur for everyone who might benefit from pursuing an education. That’s the key. That’s the reason why I’m here. That’s the reason why the team at SAC is doing everything that we can to ensure opportunities are open for anyone who might want to pursue them.
Espinoza: It’s a long story but my first interest was the medical field. I was a COVID graduate so that already impacted my life so much, but my disability had many impacts that weren’t good in my life and my primary interest was the medical field. I had tried different institutions and I asked if I could please join their program but because of my disability a lot of doors closed right in front of me. I had a lot of people tell me to look for something else I could do, but I was so discouraged. The person I always go to is my mom and I told her I’ll just work. … But she told me, “but you love school.” Since I was a little girl, since I was five I used to tell my mom, “I’m going to be a teacher one day.” … She said let’s see what SAC has to offer you. I still remember like it was yesterday. I came into the rock and roll (enrollment) event and I asked if it was OK if I was in a wheelchair and they said yes. … After that I attended my classes. I was enrolled as soon as that Fall in 2021 and from there I started to get involved. The Office of Student Life had events and I started noticing wow this is a nice environment. People here are friendly and they are actually reaching out for me. I don’t have to look for them. SAC changed my life, but it’s honestly the truth. It opened opportunities for me not just academically but personally. I have been able to expand my knowledge and the experiential learning aspect of it. I have been able to build relationships. … San Antonio College is so welcoming, that’s what makes me call it home now.
How SAC is addressing economic and social mobility
Dr. Naydeen: Right now we are working with the Aspen College Institute and we are right now in an effort called Unlocking Opportunity. Unlocking Opportunity means exactly that. We need to assess how we are transitioning our students from an associates to a four year school or we need to ensure they are having a family sustaining wage immediately after they complete with us at SAC. Those are the top two things that we’re going to work on. In doing that we need to make sure we are in alignment with the workforce.
Looking ahead at what’s ahead for SAC
Dr. Naydeen: The reason why we’re doing what we’re doing is because of Desteny and students like her. Our students are resilient and determined and they want a better life and they know they deserve a better life and they also understand education is key. With that, the next few years at SAC are amazing. We are energized. We know that our teams are all in for the students we serve. We want to make sure we continue to expand our partnerships with business and industry, with K-12. We also want to make sure we improve our systems and the methods we already have in place to ensure our students have access, ensure they can stay, ensure they pass their courses.
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