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Thursday, January 25, 2018
A homecoming for Cuyamaca College's new vice president of student services
The first time Jessica Robinson stepped onto the Cuyamaca College campus some 20 years ago, she was, she recalled, completely unsure of herself. No one in her family had ever studied beyond high school, and she had no idea what kind of career to pursue.
Those doubts didn’t last very long. Within minutes, Robinson realized she had found a new home. She began connecting with instructors and counselors who guided her along a path that would lead to an associate degree at Cuyamaca College, and a bachelor of arts degree in social work, a master’s degree in social work and a doctor of education in educational leadership from San Diego State University, not to mention a career at SDSU that culminated with being named as Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
On Jan. 22, Robinson returned to Cuyamaca College as the new Vice President of Student Services.
“My goal has always been to go back to Cuyamaca College and help the people who were like me: first-generation students from underserved, minority populations,” said Robinson, who is married to her high school sweetheart, with whom she is raising a son and a daughter. “When I heard about this nationwide search, I jumped at the opportunity. I couldn’t be happier.”
As Vice President of Student Services, Robinson oversees a wide array of programs and services that range from Admissions & Records to Disabled Student Programs & Services, Student Equity, and High School & Community Outreach. Her goals in her new job include forging stronger partnerships and building off what is working.
It’s a long way from her modest beginnings growing up in Lemon Grove. She credits a high school instructor for setting her on her journey.
“I remember being at Mt. Miguel High School, and a few weeks before I graduated my English teacher said, ‘You know Jessica, you’re smart. You really should think about going to college.’ I’m thinking to myself, ‘College? I’ve never given it a thought before.’ So I decided to check out Cuyamaca, and I remember walking onto the campus and almost immediately having the feeling that this is where I belong. I loved it here. I loved the teachers. I loved the students. I loved everything about the school. It just set me on the path to where I’m at today.”
Robinson’s path led her to an interest in social work, where her skills have helped expand educational opportunities through programs based on research and data that enable students from non-traditional backgrounds to thrive. After earning an associate degree at Cuyamaca College, and a bachelor of arts degree in social work, a master’s degree in social work and a doctor of education in educational leadership from San Diego State University, Robinson launched a career in education at SDSU that culminated with being named as Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs last fall.
Past honors and awards include the San Diego State University President’s Leadership Award for Faculty and Staff Excellence, being named a finalist for San Diego Magazine’s Women of the Year, and San Diego State’s Graduate School of Social Work’s Student of the Year.
“Jessica has an impressive 16-year history in higher education with positions held in both student and academic affairs,” said Cuyamaca College President Julianna Barnes. “Those positions have included administration, program development and grant writing with a focus on at-risk and underserved populations. Jessica represents the dedication that permeates our college and we’re excited for her to be back home.”
Those who know her have no doubt Robinson will succeed at Cuyamaca.
“Jessica Robinson is a seasoned and equity minded educator,” said San Diego Mesa College President Pam Luster, who was among San Diego State instructors. “As one of my former students in the Ed.D. program at SDSU, Jessica demonstrated her commitment to community college students through her care, compassion, creativity and demonstration of inclusive and equity minded practices. Jessica has a natural ability to lead, through excellent communication skills and superb research and organizational skills she creates relationships that produce results and success. She will be a vast asset to Cuyamaca College.”