Compiled by: Albert Fulcher, Thomas Baker, Angelica Rodriguez, Amparo Mendoza, Serina Duarte, Enrique Raymundo
Elizabeth Jean Roach is an educator running for seat No. 1 on the Southwestern College governing board.
Originally from Arizona, Roach said she has lived in the South Bay for 16 years, mostly in Chula Vista. She has been involved in education since 1987, she said, and since then has worked at a charter school as well as home schooling.
On her own at 16, Roach started taking classes at Southwestern Community College in New Mexico and then Mesa Community College in Arizona, she said. She transferred to Arizona State University and then Brigham Young University in 1988 where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in secondary education and went on to teach for 20 years.
“As this seat came open I thought what a wonderful opportunity it would be to give back a community college because there is no way I could have gotten a college degree without community college in my life,” she said.
After reading a story called “The Big Jump” as a child, she said, her outlook on the method to solving problems was changed.
“By the end of this story the character finds out that the big jump is just a series of little tiny jumps and then he was able to go to where he needed to go,” she said. “I think that’s one of the things I would like to bring to the college. Whatever the obstacle, it’s not a big jump, it’s just lots of little tiny jumps and if we can just keep after it we can overcome anything.”
With four children growing older and going through the educational system, Roach said her main motivation for running for seat No. 1 is to make SWC the best that it can be.
“This is a great opportunity, this is a great school,” she said. “ This was an opportunity and I wanted to be a part of it. To make it a better part of the community and a better part for my family.”
Roach said her prime focus is to help students achieve their goals.
“I’m willing to work hard for this and for the school so that people that want to get certificates and job training can do that, people that want to transfer to universities can do that, people that want to take swim classes can do that,” she said.
One of the biggest issues Roach said she sees at SWC is low graduation rates. She expressed interest in seeing these rates increase. She said that there is a disconnect between students leaving high school and entering a community college. SWC needs more outreach to high schools, she said.
Technology can be better applied to help students find classes, she added.
“If we have one teacher we can open up a class in ways we couldn’t if we just had one classroom, 30 chairs,” she said, “but with technology we can make it available at more times and for more people.”
Roach said student success should be an issue a local community college should tackle in its own manner rather than only through legislative action at the state level.
“In school we talk about keeping local jurisdiction, let’s take care of our own housekeeping, let’s do our own chores here,” she said.
Roach said SWC is over-dependent on Sacramento for its finances.
“Financial aid and grants can be found through other sources, there is a lot of opportunity out there,” she said. “I would like to see other sources found. It would make us stronger and less dependent on the budget in Sacramento, which we know is in trouble.”
Forecasting the failure of Proposition 30, Roach said SWC needs to “consolidate, see what we can do for less, look at budgets and see what we can trim and what we can do smarter.” She said SWC should prepare for funding cuts rather than hoping for increases.
Roach said she is incorruptible.
“I started by saying I am not a union puppet and I’m not,” she said. “I’ll listen to the needs of the unions. I’m personally very concerned with faculty.”
Roach said she believes in the First Amendment rights of freedom of the press and freedom of speech, but only to a point, that point being where safety is involved.
“I think we need a vision for the future, I think we need a plan to get there, I think we need to work hard to get there because they’re our dreams, our lives, our futures,” she said. “So if we have those four keys, if we have a vision, if we have a plan, if we are willing to work hard and we have support, I think any student that comes here should be able to succeed in a reasonable amount of time. So let’s take our feet off the brakes and hit the gas and see student achievement take off.”