A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

The Oak Leaf endorses Dr. Angélica Garcia to be SRJC’s 6th president

Chelsea Kurnick
Angélica Garcia prioritizes connection with students and attention to underrepresented communities at SRJC.

With Santa Rosa Junior College President Dr. Frank Chong’s retirement looming at the end of the Spring 2023 semester, The Oak Leaf is proud to endorse Dr. Angélica Garcia to replace him in Fall 2023, with Dr. Kimberlee Messina as a close second among the three candidates.

Nine members of The Oak Leaf Editorial Board read background information and watched all three candidate forums before meeting to discuss a selection.

As president of Berkeley City College and a lecturer at San Francisco State University, Dr. Garcia has risen from poverty and has developed the empathy, passion and professionalism to continue the legacy of SRJC being an integral part of the Sonoma County community.

“I think it’s important for the college community to know that your superintendent president is also a parent, a wife, is multicultural and part of the LGBTQIA+ community. So this job is not just about a job. It’s about giving me a chance to do what I love, which is to help disrupt the institutionalized racism, classism, sexism [and] all the things that keep people from being able to thrive,” Garcia said.

While all three candidates — Dr. Garcia, Dr. Messina and Dr. Santanu Bandyopadhyay — recognized that students face increased challenges in balancing quality of life with success, Garcia has the lived experience that mirrors student’s struggles.

“I’m committed to being a part of the problem-solving, especially when it’s in the best interest of the community, but unapologetically when it’s about disrupting generational poverty,” she said. “I absolutely know what it’s like to be unhoused. I know what it’s like to not know if there’s going to be food in the refrigerator, and until three years ago, I never knew what it meant to say that you had a home to call your own.”

She also acknowledged that college life is no longer just a problem of time management between school work, jobs and socialization.

“Over the last three years we have had to evolve to consider basic needs. We have folks that are moving away from the community because they are no longer able to afford to stay here, and that includes, in some cases, the very people who work at this college,” she said.

While all three candidates also expressed a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, Garcia was the only candidate who recognized that both SRJC students and employees need a campus where they “feel seen, heard, included and challenged.”

Garcia believes that one part of an institutional commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is that every perspective and voice matters. “If all the voices are not included then it’s hard to say that a decision has been made in the best interests of students,” she said. “The minute that we stop respecting one another’s craft or perspective or position is when we start to shut down, and then this institution shuts down, and then that impacts students.”

Another issue that we believe to be of the utmost importance for the next president is student enrollment and the future of SRJC in Sonoma County. Out of the three candidates, Garcia presented the most research into our local community.

“Who are the students that are in the third grade right now? Because that’s the future of Santa Rosa. Who are those businesses and organizations that are committed to employing local community members? Do they have a mission that’s connected about diversity, equity and inclusion?” she asked.

Based on the candidate forum along with background information, all three candidates demonstrated capabilities beyond our expectations in fulfilling the roles of president/superintendent of SRJC.

We believe that Messina, with her 16-year history with SRJC and other leadership experience, has the professionalism and emotional investment to lead SRJC students and faculty to success. Bandyopadhyay also shows the fiscal aptitude to fix SRJC’s budget and secure student enrollment for the future. However, we at The Oak Leaf believe Garcia exceeds their qualifications.

With escalating costs of living in Sonoma County, a national crisis in mental health and unresolved social justice issues, SRJC students and employees face more challenges than ever. We believe Garcia has the lived experience, knowledge of the Bay Area and community college expertise to make her the most qualified candidate to help SRJC students face these challenges.

For these reasons, The Oak Leaf Editorial Board endorses Dr. Angélica Garcia for the position of president/superintendent of Santa Rosa Junior College.

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About the Contributor
Chelsea Kurnick
Chelsea Kurnick, Editor
Chelsea Kurnick (she/her) is in her second semester at SRJC and The Oak Leaf. Chelsea has a BA in Linguistics from UC Riverside, where she edited and designed the university's 51st volume of Mosaic, a journal of art and literature. Chelsea has bylines in the North Bay Bohemian, East Bay Express, The Press Democrat and Sonoma Magazine. She writes about the LGBTQIA+ community, social justice, and mental health. She hopes to attend UC Berkeley's Investigative Reporting Program.

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