In her first month as Santa Ana College president, Annebelle Nery has hosted public forums, met campus leaders and introduced herself as an educational innovator who seeks to strengthen the college’s relationship with the community it serves.
“When our institutions partner we can serve our students. We can provide access to our students and then we can build up our community,” Nery said in November at the forum for potential presidential candidates.
As a first-generation college student born to Central American and Filipino parents, Nery holds a doctorate of philosophy in sociology from University of California, Riverside. She was most recently Vice President of Instruction at College of the Desert and has over 25 years of higher education experience.
At SAC, Nery has already overseen the opening of a new $70 million Science Center, the roll out of expanded Covid testing for students and a return to campus amid declining local Omicron cases.
She recorded a welcome message to students last week and shared some of her personal journey and goals for the college when she met with staff, administration and foundation members on Feb. 16 at a “Coffee and Conversation” event held at the Johnson Center.
She said she’s been busy working to build relationships with local organizations such as Los Amigos Orange County, Planned Parenthood, a Latino Leadership Council meeting with community leaders and the City of Santa Ana among others.
During that time she shared that in addition to building relationships with the local community, her focus is on making sure that students are able to do what they came to SAC to do.
“When students come through the door, we’re obligated to help them stay and complete the pathway we promised them,” she said.
Shortly after assuming her post Jan. 3, Nery commissioned a study into bottleneck courses, or courses that hold students back from completing their educational goals. With the help of SAC’s Research Department, the study identified 1300 students with over 45 units who had not yet transferred or completed a degree.
Nery said she is working with the other administrators on campus to ensure resources for students like these, along with the more than 4,000 identified by the study who were not successful in transfer-level math and English courses.
“The idea of being the best [community college] and changing lives – and then more lives exponentially – it excites me and it excites the people I work with,” Nery said.
Nery will be hosting her first Town Hall Meeting – “Coming Together: Q & A with President Dr. Annebelle Nery” – on March 2 from noon to 1 p.m. in the Johnson Center.