Dear CoCEAL Members, Colegas, and Amigxs,
I hope you are settling into September with a full and rested bodymindspirit. As I write this letter, I find myself "me siento muy excited" (you know I had to quote Selena <3) for the year ahead as we work together to further CoCEAL's vision
of educational equity for Latinx communities to liberate ourselves, enrich Colorado, and transform society.
The opportunity to lead and serve alongside you all as President is truly an honor. GRACIAS for entrusting me with the responsibility to guide our organization throughout the next year.
CoCEAL has always been a place for me to come witness and learn from UNAPOLOGETIC and RADICAL LEADERSHIP since my undergraduate years at Colorado State University. Since its inception in 2008, we have collectively made significant strides in our mission to
influence, challenge, and lead higher education systems that advance equitable Latinx student access, success and graduation in Colorado.
Specifically, I want to acknowledge the work of our outgoing President and Secretary. Dora Frias, I appreciate the fearless command you took this past year as you led us in hard equity and organizational change conversations. I look forward to continued guidance from you in your role as Past President. Abenicio Rael, thank you for your spirit and échale ganas attitude in all you brought to the team. I admire you and know you will use that spirit to co-lead the work of our Partnership & Innovation subcommittee. It is my hope to continue the work and visioning of our past líderes like Dora and Abenicio this year with a specific focus on community colleges.
As a recent transfer to the Colorado Community College System (CCCS), I have had one of the most powerful years in my higher education career in supporting students to realize their potential at the Community College of Aurora as the Dean of Students. At the same time, I had to check and unlearn my own misperceptions about community colleges and reflect on how they each impacted my commitment to equity and access in higher education. Particularly, the stigma placed on community colleges of being of "lower quality" or "less desirable" is a socialized construct I want to ask your support in DISMANTLING over the next year. As CCCS Chancellor Joe Garcia recently shared in his State of Community Colleges in Colorado address, almost half of all students who complete a bachelor's degree in Colorado begin at community colleges, 12,000+ Colorado community college students transfer to four-year institutions, and thousands more enter the workforce in our communities. It is because of these outcomes associated with the successes of community colleges that we must partner together as two- and four-year institutions and community organizations to truly continue our vision and mission as an organization.
Thus, this year's membership meetings will be hosted by community colleges throughout the state with content highlighting the work of community colleges to strengthen our meaning making and partnership as a CoCEAL membership body.
Our first Membership Meeting will be held at Aims Community College in Greeley on Friday, November 8, 2019
. It is my hope each of you will attend and engage alongside me and our new Steering Committee with authenticity and commitment to advancing our organization.
At the same time, I ask that until then you practice community care as the Fall is upon us. Please share the same care you provide our students with yourself and others. ASK FOR WHAT YOU NEED and encourage others to do the same. I look forward to being in community with you all very soon.
Dra. Reyna Anaya
Dean of Students
Community College of Aurora