The home of Ellen and Joe Daigle was a hub of influential and high profile figures in the community on Tuesday evening. About 50 people were in attendance for the reception of the new Superintendent & President for Pasadena City College, Erika Endrijonas, PhD.
For those who were present it was not only an opportunity to congratulate the new President, but also a way to personally resonate with the authentically amicable Endrijonas.
The warm springtime weather reflected a new and optimistic era for the local college whose reputation is backed-up with award winning recognition.
PCC has been ranked number one in several categories including the number one college in California for Associate Degrees granted, Associate Degrees for Transfer, and a finalist for the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.
Endrijonas was the past President of LA College and is working to lead PCC towards a more engaging and devoted relationship between student and administration.
“Do no harm”; Erika’s mission statement is brief, concise, and true to the aura that surrounds her person, “It’s our Job to make sure that everybody out there believes that they belong here. It’s my job to make sure that our environment is welcoming, provides the services that students need, that the community needs, and that there is more than one way to serve our community.”
Several speakers and representatives greeted the 16th President of Pasadena City College with stories of their own personal ties to the institution and eager visions for the future.
Mayor Marina Khubesrian gave her excited sentiments about the new leadership saying,
“(It’s great) having a new perspective, new experience. Having talked to the school board I get the feeling that you really do ‘get it’; what the world needs these days, what we need to train kids for, what we need to do to provide some equitability for garnering higher education.”
Khubesrian elaborated on the integral role the college plays, “Its such an amazing resource for our community. We want to partner with you, and utilize your institution in working on more research to benefit the surrounding communities.”
Afterwards the host of the evening, Ellen Daigle of Ellen’s Silkscreening, who currently employs 15 people – 3 of which found success through community college – attributed her enormous success to the excellent and accessible programs that PCC has been providing since its incarnation.
With her own personal relation to the school, Ellen spoke about her initial struggles balancing her life as a registered nurse and being a recently divorced mother of three. She eventually became a PCC graduate.
“I decided to go back and learn another trade and took their painting and silkscreening class about 45 years ago. I would work as nurse in the morning and go to class in the afternoon and after two years I learned my trade. The program was fabulous, the teachers were fabulous, they were such great mentors and they helped me set up set up my business which I started in my garage 40 years ago. I think, certainly, from my heart the value of an education changes all lives.”
She and her husband Joe have also started a scholarship fund, in which they would like to help one student with autism a year by helping them with book expenses and getting their education started.
Finally it was Dr. Erika Endrijonas who had her moment to speak to the captivated crowd.
“The fact is that you all came here because this community is important to you, you’re all here because you’ve all been touched by Pasadena City College, a friend or family member has and that’s exciting to me because I started my career in in the California Community college system. (To me) PCC plays such a vital role in that community.”
Enrdijonas also made it clear just how many strides in excellence the college has made in the past several years, garnering unprecedented accolades. Amongst those being recognized as the number one user among all colleges in the nation of online educational resources – saving students $4 million in textbook costs in the last 5 years. They have also being recognized as a top 10 community college in the nation out of 1,126 institutions.
But Dr. Endrijonas sees it not so much as winning awards but rather maintaining the superior reputation that PCC has earned. However, some of the improvements that she would like to make during her time as president include enhancing the economic and work force development while keeping the high standards of transfer rates.
Closing out her speech, Erika told South Pasadenans:
“More than anything, I want PCC to be the number one resource that all kinds of organizations and boards can go to. I look forward to working with all of you and this very special community, thank you.”