Ds Scholarship

Strengthening bridges for student success one program at a time

Nine months of work and he’s only getting started at SJCC

Dean of Academic Success and Student Equality at San Jose City College, Rene Alvarez has worked in higher education for nearly 12 years.

It began when Alvarez got the opportunity to teach criminal justice courses and open educational centers in Afghanistan for the United States Marine Corps.

Alvarez said he started with a six-month contract but because of his love for what he was doing, he extended it by two years.

“I love working so much that I decided to go to higher education full time,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez began his journey at SJCC in 2021 and has a plan to help students.

“It’s important to me to really understand the student community, and to design and deliver services that help ease these burdens,” Alvarez said. “This way we save the environment and pave the way for them (students) to be successful.”

Alvarez, along with other components, helps improve the student services offered at SJCC.

One service he has collaborated with is the EOP&S Program. It is state-funded to help low-income, educationally deficient students achieve their academic goals, according to the SJCC website.

He has also collaborated with the PUENTE Project that helps students with learning defects receive appropriate preparation for academic success, according to the SJCC website.

UMOJA (meaning Unity in Swahili), a program that enhances the cultural and educational experiences of African American and other students, according to the SJCC website, is something Alvarez works alongside.

The San Jose Milpitas Extension Program is also a program he has worked with in association. This program creates shorter academic pathways to a degree for students, according to the Milpitas Supplement Program.

“My main goal is to create as many points of care contact as possible for our students.” Alvarez said.

Alvarez said he wanted students to feel connected to the campus, to other students and faculty at SJCC.

Alvarez spoke about the support of Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Elizabeth Pratt, Vice President of Student Services William Garcia as well as SJCC President Rowena Tomanning.

“She (President Tomanning) offered her insight and guidance and allowed me to produce the things we needed to do, and she gave me the resources to do that,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez also pointed out the importance of having the support of (the SJCC faculty).

“You won’t succeed without senior leadership support and institutional investment,” Alvarez said. “The senior leadership has provided the resources and a solid foundation to make these things happen.”

Tomaneng, who also assisted Alvarez by providing resources, wrote, “Despite only having been at SJCC for nine months, Dr. Alvarez has many accomplishments that are already impacting our Jaguar community.”

For the first month or two, Alvarez said, his strategy was to have one-on-one meetings with as many people as possible (faculty, staff, students).

“His collaborative style and commitment to student equity and student success invite students and staff alike to work with him on projects,” Tomanning wrote. “I especially appreciate Dr. Alvarez’s inclusion of student voices in Campus and Project Management.”

Alvarez also shared tips for students returning to SJCC for the Spring 2022 semester.

“Ask for help if you need it,” Alvarez said. “We are here to serve you.”

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