(Santa Ana, CA) - Rancho Santiago Community College District (RSCCD) has appointed 36-year-old Irvine resident Elizabeth M. Weber as the student representative on its Board of Trustees for 2018-2019.
When she dropped out of high school at 17, she couldn’t have imagined where her educational journey would take her. While attending Century High School in Santa Ana, she decided that the smaller student body at Mountain View Continuation High School might be more to her liking so she enrolled there. After dropping out of Mountain View, Weber applied for a job at Planned Parenthood as an administrative assistant. She got the job with the contingency that she get her GED. She obtained it through Santiago Canyon College’s Division of Continuing Education. After working for Planned Parenthood, she went on to work as an account manager for logistics company Performance Team in 2010. In 2015, she found herself unemployed. At that point, she was the mother of an infant daughter and the wife of U.S. Marine Corps veteran.
In fall 2015, she enrolled at Santa Ana College (SAC) and took a career planning class with academic counselor Jodi Coffman. This class encouraged Weber to stay in college and explore her career options and a pathway to academic success and completion. In that first semester, Weber had enrolled in world religions and an art class that initiated SAC’s new Mural Painting and Design program. These courses interested her, but were not her ultimate career goal. Because of Coffman’s class, Weber had to interview somebody in a field that could become her major. Weber chose a social worker and her pathway became clear. She would pursue a liberal arts degree at SAC with a sociology major. Her next step would be to transfer to Cal State Long Beach to obtain her bachelor’s degree in social work with a minor in public policy and administration. She also set her sights on pursuing a master’s degree.
Early in her enrollment at SAC, she discovered student support services at SAC that have made all the difference to her–CalWORKS (California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids) and the Veterans Resource Center (VRC). As a college student and a low-income mother, she says that CalWORKS provided her resources to supplement her income, counselors to keep her accountable, tutors to boost her success, and workshops that helped improve her self-esteem.
“SAC was the first place that allowed me to build my future on a solid foundation,” said Weber. “The VRC provided friendships and support for both my husband, who is a veteran that served in Iraq and Afghanistan and also enrolled at SAC, and me.”
Weber recalled how a CalWORKS counselor motivated her when she said, “You could be doing more.” She said that CalWORKS kept her grounded and encouraged her to get involved on campus. This nudging pushed her join the Associated Student Government (ASG) where she became a legislative commissioner in 2016-2017, the public relations commissioner in fall 2016, and an associate justice in 2016-2017. Thanks to her participation in ASG, Weber attended regional and statewide conferences opening the doors to her meeting student leaders from community colleges statewide. She even attended a national conference in Washington, D.C. Her additional campus involvement includes the EOPS (Extended Opportunities Programs and Services) Club for which she served as the representative on Inter-Club Council. In the community, Weber volunteers for T3 Mentoring where she helps with enrichment workshops for Santa Ana youth that focus on Hip hop songwriting, break dancing, and more.
In the coming year, Weber, a third-year student at SAC, will focus her energies on completing additional coursework prior to transfer and her new role as the RSCCD student trustee. In her new role, she wants student leadership at both Santa Ana and Santiago Canyon colleges to feel supported. She feels that some of the critical issues community college students face include boosting success in writing and math and ensuring that resources meet student needs. One of her first goals as student trustee will be to hold listening sessions at both campuses to make sure she understands the priorities for the year ahead.
“I want to learn as much as I can to be able to perform my role with integrity,” said Weber. “I am a product of Santa Ana and I want to be part of the change. I want to give back because I feel like Santa Ana College gave me permission to apply myself. I had to learn to get out of my own way and they helped me learn that lesson.”
Weber lives in Irvine with her husband Nick and her four-year-old daughter Arielle.
The RSCCD student trustee is recognized as a full member at Board of Trustees meetings and can participate in discussion of issues with the privilege of an advisory vote.
About Rancho Santiago Community College District
Santa Ana College and Santiago Canyon College are public community colleges of the Rancho Santiago Community College District, which serves the residents of Anaheim Hills, Orange, Santa Ana, Villa Park, and portions of Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Irvine, Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, and Tustin.. Both colleges provide education for academic transfer and careers, courses for personal and professional development, and customized training for business and industry.
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