San Jacinto College Position 2
There are two individuals running for San Jacinto College Position 2, with one seat available. Please see below for information on these candidates.
Dr. Michelle Cantu-Wilson
As a lifelong local educator and proud former college employee, I am running for a position on the board for several reasons, but primarily, it is because my voice can be of powerful service to the college. I represent the community, the student body, and college employees in many ways:
1.) I was a community college graduate.
2.) As a Latina, I represent 68% of enrolled students.
3.) I represent all first-generation students.
4.) I represent 41% of students who receive financial aid.
5.) I represent all students who transfer to a university.
6.) I represent the faculty as former college preparatory professor.
7.) I represent the leadership as a former college leader.
I place a high value on informed perspective, and my life and career experiences will serve to offer compelling viewpoints to the board.
I am particularly motivated to support the acceleration of local community wealth through improved transfer and the attainment of advanced degrees. As someone who lived through generational poverty, I know that education is the single most powerful tool we have at our discretion to build thriving, economically robust communities. San Jacinto College is the catalyst for those endeavors.
My higher education career makes me particularly qualified to serve on the Board of Trustees. I served SJC as an adjunct instructor, a full-time faculty member, and as the Director of Teaching and Learning Initiatives and Special Projects. My last role started three months before the pandemic, providing a unique experience.
I also served in Pasadena ISD for ten years as a junior high English teacher and assistant principal.
My role in local organizations also supports my candidacy. I served as membership chair for the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas, president of the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education, and Harris County Volunteer Deputy Voter Registrar. I am a current member of the Votebeat Reader Advisory Board.
Recently, I was selected as a finalist for the National Assessment Governing Board in the General Public Representative category. This board creates policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress. My portfolio will now be forwarded to U.S. Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, for review and potential appointment.
Education has been my passion for 25 years, and serving on the SJC board will bring the experiences I’ve listed into play for the good of all educational stakeholders.
The teacher shortage for our local ISDs has been a serious challenge. An alternative certification program (ACP) would greatly help. Before I left the college, I was a liaison to the Houston Endowment and worked with my SJC colleagues to apply for a grant that would help create an ACP while also supporting the expansion of the college's education program. The college board recently approved the creation of a Bachelor of Education program, and immediately after, the Houston Endowment awarded the $1.5 million grant to the college. As someone who was alternatively certified (and remains certified to this day), I am so proud that SJC will be a pipeline of educators to the local ISDs. By providing instructional aide certifications, associate degrees in teaching, a bachelor’s degree in teaching, and an ACP at the college, we will make San Jacinto College a center for excellence in teacher preparation.
I am also proud of our equity work at the college. As a member of the instructional equity team, I worked to bring the Association of College and University Educators to the college to provide inclusivity-related microcredentials to all interested employees and nationally recognized teaching excellence certifications to our faculty.
Current inflation levels present almost insurmountable challenges to our surrounding community, particularly our neighbors who live below the poverty level. During the pandemic, the college leverage every single tool at its disposal to support students. From HEERF emergency loans to Take One on Us to the Fast Track program to installment tuition plans, students were financially supported at every turn.
With the endowment provided by Mackenzie Scott, the San Jac Promise program presents a unique opportunity to leverage the free associate degree and turn it into automatic university transfer with a pathway to graduate school as applicable. Community wealth patterns will not change if we only produce graduates with two-year degrees. As the central higher education institution within our communities, we must take the lead in creating advanced degree pathways for our students – something that will decrease generational poverty and create a more robust economic environment in our service district.
SJC has the unique benefit of having strong industry alliances in petrochemical, nursing, aerospace, maritime, and IT. Local industry can support students with local jobs and with university tuition assistance while they complete advanced degrees close to home.
SJC has the advantage of having committed industry partners. These relationships have been diligently curated by the chancellor and other leaders at the college for the benefit of the students. Through advisory councils and committees, workforce support efforts are always underway.
As a leadership trainer, I am aware that employers are seeing particular challenges reengaging the workforce, filling positions, and retaining employees. The Texas Workforce Solutions is currently seeking employability skills trainers for participants in its workforce program.
I believe that our Texas workforce has not finished reacting to the pandemic. Though the state has reopened, employees are still struggling to navigate the workplace after the fault lines that defined their lives dramatically shifted. Employee priorities have changed, and employers desperate to stay open did not have the time or bandwidth to prepare for who returned to the job after the pandemic.
Employers across our region need leadership training, communication training, and conflict mediation training. Employees need stronger onboarding experiences, professional skills training, childcare assistance, and more flexible schedules than before.
Considering the wealth of community resources, I know SJC can lead the coordination of these efforts, and I would like to be a part of this important work.
Providing leadership that supports the mission of the college would be my primary responsibility as a board member. I take that seriously because I have been a part of that work for SJC. My strength as a candidate lies in the fact that I served the college for ten years and have proudly lived the college mission, vision, and values. You will not find another candidate who so deeply knows and loves the college.
I learned the servant leadership style as a very young educator in Pasadena ISD. Putting the needs of stakeholders first helps create a positive climate and culture and improves morale. This style was reinforced by all my experiences over the course of my career, and at every turn, it has been my deliberate intention to grow other leaders and to support them as they learn to lead.
Ultimately, I envision an environment where students benefit from a powerful institutional focus on deeply imbedded leadership development. I envision students realizing their own leadership potential and taking responsibility for the future of their communities. In this way, we become the facilitators of student achievement and students become the caretakers of their own goals and dreams.
I worked as an educator for La Porte ISD for 31 years. During that time I taught high school science (winning a national award in 2001), the Peer Assisted Leadership class and supported special education as an educational diagnostician. I was also senior class sponsor, cheerleader coach, Interact sponsor and National Honor Society sponsor. I continue to volunteer with the theater program and on several committees for LPISD.
I am also a member of the Citizens Advisory Council to Industry, I previously served on the Planning and Zoning Committee for the City of La Porte.
I now own and operate businesses that contract with NASA and the Department of Defense. Both businesses are Women Owned Small Businesses and one is a Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUB Zone) business. We have over 200 employees nationwide, many from underserved communities. Locally we hire many people that have an Associates Degree or a Certification from SJC.
My experience in education and business helps me to understand managing budgets, working with people and the importance of SJC to the community and the students in the local high schools.