The Student Voice Of Contra Costa College, San Pablo, Calif.

The Advocate

The Student Voice Of Contra Costa College, San Pablo, Calif.

The Advocate

CCC president Kimberly Rogers on her vision for success

Newly elected Contra Costa College permanent president discusses about her presidency with The Advocate

After being without a permanent president for quite some time, Contra Costa College announced its new president last spring semester as Kimberly Rogers  was officially sworn in last month.

Rogers grew up in Spartanburg, South Carolina and went to the University of South Carolina as an undergraduate, she said in an interview. Having played the violin since the age of 10 (she still plays), Rogers went to college under a music scholarship. She was invited to the honors college during her first year and pursued a major in French and a minor in chemistry. After graduating, she had the opportunity to live in France for a couple years, and she is so fluent in French. 

“When you do things with others, the outcome is greater then what you can imagine by just doing it on your own,” she said of her philosophy on how she lives life. 

Rogers sat down with The Advocate to discuss her vision for leading Contra Costa College.

Q. How are you feeling now that you are the permanent CCC president?

 A.  It’s always been a big responsibility, whether you are a dean or a vice president. Regardless of the title, working at Contra Costa College and educating students who work in the community is a huge responsibility. Becoming the permanent [president] is an honor – I feel like I have been embraced by the community. Secondly, it’s also very exciting to come into the opportunity where we are starting our recovery from the pandemic and to be able to come in at the juncture where the enrollment is starting to recover. Hopefully we are all starting to recover [from the] physical, psychological, and emotional part of it and to see where we can go in the next few years, just to be mindful of what everyone has gone through. And I see myself as an optimist in terms of how I think about things. I have a great team, there is some great faculty here who really care, and I don’t think anyone works at the community college if they don’t care about students. We want to give back and we want to see folks succeed. Working with Mojdeh Mehdizadeh [interim chancellor], she’s just a wonderful person who has been at the district for so long and to have the support of the other two college presidents. I feel very fortunate and supported, even within the community at large and having the opportunity to make those connections. I don’t think I have ever gone out and ask someone for support or had a question that no one’s taken the time to answer. People are happy to support the college because they know the good work that we are doing in the community.

Q. What long-term goals do you want to accomplish while at the college?

A.  Number one is to build the knowledge of Contra Costa College among middle and high school students. We are an excellent college, when you look at what our faculty is doing inside and outside the classroom, if you look at the facilities, and if you have taken a class in our new science building it is magnificent. When I first walked into the planetarium, I said this is an amazing space. So really just expanding the knowledge of CCC – we started doing that with our “Comet Day” we had earlier in the spring, and we had a “technology day” for the high school students as well. We also did the Cinco de Mayo parade and talked a lot about the free ESL classes CCC offers, so that people can understand the options and opportunities. Another thing is to have more community-based programs – I would want to have the college for kids going again but also activities for seniors and adults. I am also planning something at the moment for Contra Costa College’s 75th anniversary, so we can keep learning and remembering the people who came through CCC and made it great. We also are part of the Achieving the Dream initiative. This was very competitive. When I applied, I knew it was very important for us as a “Hispanic Serving Institution” who also have a significant API and Black population. They originally chose 10 different colleges for their first Accelerating Outcomes for Black, Latinx, Indigenous and People of Color cohort. So we have a leadership coach, a data coach – it’s a three-year program, and we just kicked it off in July. We are very excited to do a really deep dive looking at out data, policies and our programs to see where the barriers are and see what isn’t helping our students move forward. We really want to transform the institution and the experience that students are receiving, and what works for one group doesn’t always for another. The goal is to learn and scale up on what does work so that we can help improve on outcomes for everyone. In long term goals, we have a lot of interim manger positions that need to get hired. There are a lot of significant leadership positions that aren’t permanent. The goal is – over the course of this academic year – to have those roles filled permanently. So a lot of hiring in this cycle – hopefully we get people who are passionate about students’ success and wanting to serve the community. 

Q. Why did you choose Contra Costa College?

A. As someone who studied higher education and got a Ph.D, California’s system is the one that we all envy because of the community colleges, CSU’s, UC’s, and the relative “ease” that it is to transfer between and among for students. They have this whole mastermind plan system that has been created, and I was like, I would love to have the opportunity to work in California. They also do a good job at funding their systems unlike other states. I was looking at the different positions that were available, and there was just something about Contra Costa College. There were three different colleges I was looking at, and I was looking at CCC’s mission and vision there was just something about it that spoke to me in terms of how it focused and centered equity. As I was looking at faculty and manager profiles, I could see how diverse the employees were and the photos on the website really spoke to me, and I felt like that would be a placed that would embrace me and a place I would want to work. To just see the representation, the focus on equity, reading the student equity plans – really just the commitment and how it was easily accessible to see what people were saying and who were involved in writing those plans and this layout showed me that they have a true commitment, and how everyone had a voice in the work that was done. And that’s what I was looking for and I hope that’s what I model in the work that I do.


Q. Now that we are coming out of the pandemic, do you have ideas on how the college can increase student engagement?

A.  One thing we are doing is trying to hold a lot of student focus events. I’ts been very important to me that we have this alignment between instruction and student services. We are doing alot of engagement activities because we want students on campus, we have a Black student union that’s very active. We want to be sure that the student groups are coming together and that we are providing support and that we are having these linked instruction activities, so that what you are learning in class is linked to what you are doing out of class but then it’s also fun. We like to bring guest speakers. In October we are having a guest speaker for Latinx Hispanic Heritage Month who works a lot with Latino males but also with students. He will be taking a little bit about some of the obstacles they face and what we can do to support but its also going to be an event that we want students to come to ask questions. Last year, we had Reyna Grande come in to talk about her memoir the distance between us. I had read her memoir several years ago when I was living in Boston and I loved it. I did not come here from Mexico as an undocumented child immigrant, but there were things from her memoir that resonated with me. One thing I want folks to understand is that you can learn from people who aren’t like you. There is overlap in the human experience and there are things that we can learn from each other. We also want to make sure there is always food on campus – we know that food insecurity is real. When we hold events, we always have food available so that’s something else people don’t have to worry about. We have a free breakfast program, and last year I worked with student life for a free lunch program. Things that bring students together and having fun and education activities [that are] also giving students the chance to have a break. So that it’s not just all work when you come on campus. We know that you are taking classes, have jobs, and by making it a college – not just a place to study, but also a place to decompress. That way, students would want to come to campus, and we ordered more new furniture – that way students have a place to sit and congregate. All of that matters in terms of the experience.  

Q. Any exciting news/plans in the works for the college? 

A. I think everything is exciting in terms of the college, but we are having a major guest speaker coming February. We will get the flyers ready and we are going to prioritize students. I don’t want to say anything just yet. She’s a major speaker with a major platform, but yes we do have something big coming. Last May, P-Lo – who is a rapper from Pinole – graduated here at CCC, and after the ceremony wore his gown on the plane to Vegas for his show that same night. I want to reach out to him and hopefully have him do a show here at the college. There has been a lot of people who came through CCC, and we want to maintain those connections. 

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Brenda Maldonado, Editor in Chief

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