Santa Ana College Participates in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival for the First Time

February 1, 2013
"American Soldiers poster"

SAC students Cynthia Aldrich and Danny Gonzales, cast members in the college’s production of American Soldiers, will compete in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

Santa Ana College (SAC) students Cynthia Aldrich and Danny Gonzalez have been invited to compete in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) in Los Angeles from February 14-16. Aldrich and Gonzalez were cast members of the SAC Theatre Arts’ production of American Soldiers last fall.

This regional competition at Los Angeles Theater Center will draw theater students from Arizona, Central and Southern California, Hawaii, Southern Nevada, and Utah. In three rounds of competition, the invited students will vie for Irene Ryan Acting Scholarships.

Since 1972, the Irene Ryan Foundation of Encino, California, has awarded scholarships to the outstanding student performers at each regional festival. These scholarships are made possible by the generosity of the late Irene Ryan who is best remembered for her portrayal of the lovable and feisty ‘Granny Clampett’ in The Beverly Hillbillies.

In addition to the students’ participation, SAC assistant professor of theatre Chris Cannon has been invited to direct one of the short plays in the KCACTF student playwriting competition. Students from all over the region submit 10-minute plays that are showcased at the festival.


Ryan Ahari Named Student Trustee for Rancho Santiago Community College District

June 26, 2012
Ryan Ahari - 2012-13 RSCCD Student Trustee

Ryan Ahari will serve as the RSCCD Student Trustee for the 2012-13 academic year.

Rancho Santiago Community College District (RSCCD) has named 19-year-old Irvine resident Ryan Ahari as the student representative on its Board of Trustees for 2012-2013.

Ahari, a third-year student at Santiago Canyon College (SCC) with a 3.69 grade point average, is a political science major.

With the SCC Associated Student Government (ASG), he served as the Senator of Campus Development. In that role, he represented the student body on the college’s facilities committee.

In addition, Ahari has served as a proxy for the ASG Vice President of Senate at Academic Senate and RSCCD Board of Trustees meetings. He was appointed as the SCC Region VIII delegate to the Student Senate for California Community Colleges. Last summer, he served as an SCC orientation leader helping to acclimate new students to college life.

“In my role with ASG, I learned to network and build relationships with students to ensure that their voice was heard,” said Ahari. “As student trustee, I plan to continue to focus on vital issues affecting many students. I am concerned about student fee hikes, textbook reform, veterans’ issues, adequate financial aid, and ensuring that LGBT students find our campuses welcoming.”

In recent months, Ahari has come to value the importance of higher education more than ever. One year ago, his life changed dramatically when his father told him that the family’s home was going into foreclosure. The house was put on the market and was sold as a short sale. He went to live with his father in Irvine and his mother went to live with his sister and his dog in Orange. At the time, he was taking 17 units of classes, but the emotional strain caused him to drop three classes.

“Things are better now, but I came to believe that the key to the world’s problems is education, vocational skills, and job training,” he said. “Society really needs to invest in a solid education for its citizens.”

Fortunately, Ahari has benefitted from a Board of Governors fee waiver, grants, and scholarships that make enrolling in college possible for him. In addition, he got a job working at Target to help pay the bills. This experience he believes has helped him better understand the obstacles that many community college students face in getting a higher education.

His future plans include transferring to a four-year university, preferably UC San Diego or UCLA, and continuing his studies in political science. After completing his bachelor’s degree, he hopes to attend law school. His goal is to study civil liberties and constitutional law and to run for elected office.

Rancho Santiago Community College District Trustee Brian Conley Retires

June 6, 2012
"head shot of Brian Conley"

Trustee Brian E. Conley, M.A., is retiring from the RSCCD Board of Trustees on June 30, 2012.

Rancho Santiago Community College District (RSCCD) Trustee Brian E. Conley, M.A., has retired from his seat effective June 30, 2012. Conley of Santa Ana submitted his resignation to Phillip E. Yarbrough, president of the RSCCD Board of Trustees. With 24 years of continuous service and leadership, he is the Board’s longest-serving member.  The Board of Trustees will formally accept Conley’s resignation at its meeting on June 18.

“The length of Brian’s tenure on the Board of Trustees speaks volumes about his dedication to our students, the community, and the mission of community colleges on a local, state, and national level,” said Raúl Rodríguez, Ph.D., RSCCD chancellor. “His spirit and perseverance will be missed.”

Conley’s seat represents what was formerly Trustee Area 1, which included a large portion of Santa Ana and a portion of east Garden Grove.  On May 21, the RSCCD Board of Trustees voted to adopt revised trustee area boundaries, changing the past at-large method of electing trustees to elections by individual trustee areas. That action increased the number of trustee areas from three to seven and changed Conley’s seat from Trustee Area 1 to the newly created Trustee Area 5. The Board is composed of seven elected trustees, who serve four-year terms.

Conley was elected to the Board in November 1988 and is in his sixth term. During his tenure as a trustee, Conley has served as president of the Board an unprecedented five times. He is currently chair of the Board’s Legislative Committee and serves as a member of the Board Policy Committee. He was selected in 2009 to serve a three-year term as the Regional State Coordinator for the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), the nation’s leading trustee trade association, based in Washington D.C. His responsibility included keeping ACCT leaders apprised of the challenges and innovations of California’s community colleges – the largest two-year college system in the nation. He also participates in federal advocacy efforts spearheaded by ACCT.

Recently, Conley was appointed by California Assembly Speaker John Pérez to serve a five-year term on the California Student Aid Commission. Conley was specially appointed because of his expertise regarding community colleges and his reputation as a statewide and national leader.

In addition to these current leadership positions, he also was an appointee of the California State Assembly to the Statewide Pupil Assessment Review Board. In 1999, Governor Gray Davis appointed Conley to the Board of Governors of the California Community College System, a position he held for four years.

He has been a professor at Golden West College (GWC) for over 37 years, where he has served as department chair for ten years and participated on numerous academic committees.  He has also announced his retirement from the college.

A reception is planned to honor Conley for 35 years of public service on Friday, June 22, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Rancho Santiago Community College District, 2323 N. Broadway, Board Room 107, Santa Ana. For more information, call (714) 480-7450.

Santa Ana College Transfer Rate Jumps 19 Percent

May 16, 2012
"Santa Ana College dance student Gabriel Mata in dance pose"

Santa Ana College dance student strikes pose in student dance concert, “Shift…Change,” at Philips Hall Theatre. Photo Credit: Tim Agler

Last year, college and university transfers from Santa Ana College (SAC) increased 19 percent, according to the National Student Clearinghouse.  A total of 2,096 students transferred to the California State University system, the University of California system, or private or out-of-state institutions.

The SAC Dance Department is a reflection of just how diligently community colleges work to get their students coveted transfer spots. The department’s transfer rate skyrocketed some 133 percent. The number of transfer students may seem small at seven, but the success rate is high considering that there are about 30 dance majors at the college.

“Our students are focused and ambitious,” said Eve Kikawa, chair of SAC’s dance department.

To encourage student success, the SAC Foundation helped get students to the American College Dance Festival (ACDF). The ACDF provides the venue for students of dance to participate in performances, workshops, and it also gives the students an opportunity to be seen.

Such was the case for 20-year-old Gabriel Mata. For him, this spring’s ACDF at Modesto Junior College also served as an audition for the San Jose State University (SJSU) dance program. And, fortunately, SJSU liked what they saw. So much so, that Mata has secured a full tuition scholarship for the fall. Without the scholarship, transferring would have been very difficult for the high-energy dancer who lives with his mother in one room in Santa Ana.

Mata started dancing in high school. He remembered going to a dance audition with a friend who told him he couldn’t dance. He tried out anyway. Although his audition was not successful, he was inspired to begin taking dance classes at Santa Ana High School in his junior year. In his senior year, he auditioned again for the Santa Ana High School Dance Team and was accepted.

“Back then, I wasn’t expecting to do much after high school,” he said.

Nevertheless, he made his way to SAC where he has been encouraged and motivated by the faculty. He carries a 3.62 grade point average. In addition to dance, he has studied biology, chemistry, political science, and psychology, as well as other general education requirements.

Although his main passion is modern dance, which he said has helped bring him out his shell; he is looking forward to taking a double major at SJSU in dance and nutrition. Why nutrition?  A high school dance teacher emphasized how important good nutrition is to good dance performance—a lesson that has stuck with him. And he is hungry for more knowledge in the field.

After finishing his higher education, he said he might return to Southern California. At the same time, there was a twinkle in his eye when he talked about the possibility of New York City.

The following SAC students—all Santa Ana residents—have been accepted as transfer students to the following dance programs:

  • Sara Arvizu: California State University, Fullerton
  • Fidel Beltran: California State University, Long Beach (CSULB)
  • Angelica Camacho: CSULB
  • Evelyn Cortes: CSULB
  • Rocio Cruz: CSULB
  • Leticia Garcia: SJSU
  • Gabriel Mata: SJSU

For more information on the Santa Ana College dance program, contact Eve Kikawa at (714) 564-5641 or visit

Santa Ana College Holds 96th Annual Commencement

May 15, 2012
"Four graduates in caps & gowns with diplomas"

The Santa Ana College commencment honors the hard work and dedication of students who overcame numerous obstacles to achieve their dreams.

Santa Ana College (SAC) will hold its 96th annual commencement exercise on Thursday, May 17, at 6:30 p.m. at Eddie West Field – Santa Ana Stadium, 602 N Flower St, Santa Ana, CA. There are 1,980 students who are eligible to graduate.

The Class of 2012 valedictorian is Ivan de Jesus Garcia, a 28-year-old resident of Moreno Valley. He graduates with an associate of arts degree in speech language pathology assisting with a grade point average of 4.0.  Garcia attended Valley View High School in Moreno Valley where he participated in the school’s Allied Health Academy. At age 17, he obtained a certified nurse assistant license and began working at a skilled nursing facility. After working in this field for six months, he transitioned to the rehabilitation department. This exposure encouraged him to enter the medical field.

After high school graduation, he attended Riverside Community College and transferred to the University of California, Riverside, where he majored in biological sciences with a minor in Italian. While studying abroad, he realized that he no longer wanted to become a physician, but still liked the healthcare field and the study of language. After taking two years off from his studies, he discovered the field of speech pathology, which melded his love for language and for healthcare.

In 2010, he entered the SAC Speech Language Pathology Assistant Program commuting 100 miles every day to and from the college to his home in Moreno Valley. At the same time, he continued his full-time job and successfully completed internships at the Jurupa Unified School District and the St. Jude Centers for Rehabilitation and Wellness. His hopes to obtain a master’s degree in communicative disorders and provide services to the underrepresented language communities for whom resources and services are limited.

“Santa Ana College has provided me with the opportunity to pursue something I have a passion for,” said Garcia.

More than 5,000 people, including 600 graduates, friends and families, are expected to attend the commencement ceremony this Thursday. Among the graduates will be 31 Middle College High School graduates who will receive both their high school diplomas and associate degrees this spring paving their way to transfer to universities.

“Commencement is a very special occasion for our students, their families, our faculty and staff,” said Erlinda J. Martinez, Ed.D., Santa Ana College president. “Our students have had to overcome numerous obstacles—balancing family responsibilities and economic challenges while completing degree and certificate requirements. Our commencement exercise honors their dedication and hard work.”

Redistricting Workshop Planned for Rancho Santiago Community College District

May 1, 2012
"page in daytime calendar book"

Mark your calendar for a Redistricting Workshop on Sunday, May 6 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Do you think certain neighborhoods or communities should be in a particular trustee area in the Rancho Santiago Community College District (RSCCD)?  Here is an opportunity to have your voice heard.

The RSCCD Board of Trustees has scheduled a community workshop to provide community members the opportunity to review and comment on revised boundaries of the trustee areas for the RSCCD. The workshop is planned for Sunday, May 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Rancho Santiago Community College District, 2323 N. Broadway, Room 107, Santa Ana, CA 92706.

“This workshop serves an important function,” said RSCCD Board of Trustees President Phillip E. Yarbrough. “It allows community members to help shape the process of drawing the trustee area boundaries that will impact the operations of the college district for years to come. The Board encourages the community to take the time to make their opinions known.”

On February 6, 2012, the RSCCD Board of Trustees approved amendments to board policies changing the current at-large method of trustees to elections by individual trustee areas. That action increases the number of trustee areas from three to seven.  At the February 27, 2012 meeting the Board selected National Demographics Corporation (NDC) to develop potential boundaries for the seven trustee areas.

NDC and the RSCCD Board of Trustees have identified the following criteria that may be utilized in the development of the new trustee area boundaries:

  • Communities of interest;
  • Visible (natural and man-made) boundaries;
  • Compactness and contiguity;
  • Continuity in office;
  • Population growth;
  • Preserve the core of existing districts; and
  •  No dilution of protected classes which impairs its ability to elect candidates of its choice or its ability to influence the outcome of an election.

On March 26, 2012, the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges approved a resolution paving the way for RSCCD to change from at-large to trustee area elections. The RSCCD Board of Trustees had previously requested that the Board of Governors authorize this change to trustee area elections as authorized by Assembly Bill No. 684 signed by Governor Jerry Brown in October 2011.

For more information, call Rancho Santiago Community College District at (714) 480-7452 or email


Santa Ana College Automotive Technology Program Earns National Accreditation

March 29, 2012
"A certificate of achievement"

Santa Ana College's nationally accredited auto technology program enrolls 200 students.

Santa Ana College’s (SAC) automotive technology program has achieved accreditation by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation, Inc. (NATEF) and the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).          

The college’s automotive technology program was evaluated according to strict standards set by the automotive industry. The NATEF evaluated the program in all areas from facilities, curriculum, administration, business partners and advisory meetings. The SAC program received accreditation in the following areas: automatic transmission, brakes, electrical/electronic systems, engine performance, engine repair, heating and air conditioning, manual drive train, suspension and steering.

“Accreditation process was a grueling process. It took us 1 ½ years to complete a self-evaluation and a 700-page report,” said Glen Hammonds, chair of SAC’s automotive and diesel technology program. “This means a lot for our students because graduating from an accredited program ensures potential employers that their training meets industry standards.” 

SAC’s automotive program enrolls about 200 students, preparing them for careers in the ever-changing field of automotive technology. The program offers certificates and associate degrees. For more information on the automotive and diesel technology programs, contact Glen Hammonds at or (714) 564-6664.

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