Monica F. Torres
There’s a reason why “community” is in our name. It recognizes the interdependence of the relationship between community colleges and the communities they serve. This is true across the country. It’s true in Dona Ana County.
At DACC, we value the communities we serve — Las Cruces, Anthony, Chaparral, Hatch, Sunland Park, and the locations in between. These are the places where our students and their families live, play, shop and work. In these communities, our students find their purpose and motivation to pursue additional education. Some look for an academic credential: a high school equivalency diploma, a workforce certificate or associate degree, or the academic credits needed to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program. Many members of our communities have other goals in mind such as developing their English language skills or building their expertise and network to start or expand a small business. And others seek out new knowledge for nothing more than their own satisfaction. Without all of these students from across the county, there would be no purpose for DACC. We know that our very existence is tied to these community members being able to access and benefit from educational opportunities at DACC. We take this relationship seriously.
And without DACC, and more specifically, DACC alumni, Las Cruces and the surrounding communities would certainly be very different. DACC graduates can be found all across the county in business, industry, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions and government entities contributing to the social and economic well-being of our county. This was evident during COVID with many health and public service workers with DACC credentials in their pockets or on their walls serving on the front lines of the crisis: radiology technologists, respiratory therapists, nurses, contact tracers, EMS personnel, firefighters, and many others . Of course, DACC graduates are contributing in other sectors across the county. And in many industries, particularly those where DACC has had longstanding programs, DACC alumni are often leaders.
But DACC students and graduates would not contribute as fully to their communities without significant support from their communities. More than 500 representatives from local business and industry serve on DACC advisory councils. In those roles, they provide DACC faculty and staff with information that shapes what we do — what we teach, what equipment we use, what our facilities look like, what experiences our students must have, and much more.
Several years ago, it became clear to me that there was a special group of people in the community making a difference for our students. I attended a reception for a faculty member who was retiring. Many former students were there to celebrate his long and successful career. One stood up and thanked the professor for helping him find and get on the path to his profession. As he established himself in his field, he said, he that it would be important for him to give back. Hey there. And others like him have: serving on advisory councils, creating internship opportunities for students, mentoring young professionals, setting up scholarships, and more. DACC students become graduates become alumni become partners with the college to help new students find their own professional paths and, like those who came before them, contribute to the well-being of Doña Ana County.
There are many reasons why “community” is in our name. These are a few of them. In celebration, DACC is hosting a “block party” for our alumni and other community supporters on April 8. For information, call 575-528-7059.
Mónica F. Torres is president of Doña Ana Community College.