At the Ventura County community colleges, students from diverse backgrounds come together to purse their education and personal development. For many, Moorpark, Oxnard, and Ventura colleges are more than just the place where they take classes, but also where they see their potential futures for the first time. Many District employees are graduates of the Ventura County Community College District (VCCCD), a true testament to what community colleges have to offer. Having experienced many of the same worries and challenges that their students face, these individuals make the most of their opportunities to guide and mentor students as they work toward their own aspirations for the future.
Dr. Oscar Cobian, now interim president of Oxnard College (OC), was once a student at OC himself. He remembers “being lost” until he became a part of the EOPS program. “They provided me with a roadmap to complete my degree and transfer.”
As alumni return to work for the District, they bring with them a sense of familiarity and shared background that enriches the institution and student experience. For Dr. Cobian, this shapes his leadership in creating a nurturing environment where students feel understood and supported. “I think about my own onboarding as a new student, and at Oxnard College, we want students to see themselves as OC students and have the resources available to succeed,” he said.
The personal connection VCCCD alumni have to the community college experience also allows them to envision innovative ways to embody the District mission and serve future generations of students.
Dr. Lisa Putnam, Executive Director of Operations, first began her years of service to the District as a student on the Moorpark College campus. “I almost dropped out of college in that first year at Moorpark College. If it wasn’t for Dr. Pollock, my Psychology professor, I would have,” said Dr. Putnam of her own college experience. “Dr. Pollock recognized that I was struggling, and he reached out to me to encourage me to continue, helping me to connect with the resources I needed. He helped me to recognize that while education is hard, the college has many different support services to help us figure it all out. I will always be indebted to this instructor.”
Since, Dr. Putnam has served VCCCD students, colleges, and communities for over 34 years as a student employee, classified professional, faculty member, and academic administrator. She is now located at the District Administrative Center where she works with the Chancellor and supports collaboration among senior leadership Districtwide.
As an alum, Dr. Putnam brings to the table a wide variety of institutional knowledge that takes into consideration the needs of students, community members, and employees. This intrinsic understanding helps the whole Districtwide leadership team build a more equitable and responsive educational environment.
In today’s ever-evolving economic landscape, community colleges serve a pivotal role preparing those in the community for new paths and expanding dreams. By offering affordable programs for transfer and certification, the Ventura County colleges have become a launchpad for students looking to strengthen their skills to better serve their communities.
Ms. Laura Barroso, Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, attended multiple VCCCD colleges before transferring to University of California Northridge for her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and then to Antioch University Santa Barbara for her Master’s degree in Psychology. She then began her career, first for the County of Ventura and then for the college district. “As a graduate of Oxnard College, I am proud of my journey that began at Ventura College and has led me from student to steward,” said Barroso. “The opportunities that came before me from my pursuit of education have not only enriched my life but have also empowered me to empower others, reinforcing the belief that education is the cornerstone of progress and prosperity.”
This unique cycle of growth and success both enriches the institution with local talent and fortifies the bond between education and community.
As each cohort of graduates leaves the Ventura County colleges, they take with them the experiences, knowledge, and passion to make a difference in their communities, and when alumni return to work for the District, they infuse their campuses with renewed energy and a deepened sense of purpose. As the VCCCD continues to progress and develop programs to best serve the community, the inclusion of alumni in the workforce ensures that the District remains firmly rooted in the mission to provide accessible and exceptional education.
We are proud to have so many amazing alumni in our community! If you are a VCCCD graduate, we want to hear your success story. Please complete our Proud to Be VCCCD form to share your campus, years attended, and how you have succeeded with us and since. Help us encourage the next generation of students and share why you are #Proud2BeVCCCD !Allie Frazier, MFA, is a Marketing, Communications, and Web Design Coordinator at the VCCCD District Administrative Center. To learn more about the VCCCD, visit VCCCD.edu.