When we think about our local community college in Santa Cruz County, the first thing that comes to mind is Sue Neilsen Director of Cochise College. She has worked with the college for over 12 years. Unfortunately for our community, she will be retiring June 30, 2015. She will be moving to San Francisco to be with family. Ms. Neilsen believes she has accomplished a lot throughout her lifetime. “I am very fortunate to have lived in Santa Cruz County for 44 years. I like the warm culture and living close to the border.”
According to Neilsen, “it will be difficult for her to leave Cochise College but she feels it is time for her to retire. My staff has been like my family to me.” When Cochise College first started there were only 3 staff members who managed the college Sue Neilsen, Josefa Jacquez and Leticia Cuevas. The college now has 11 staff members.
Moving into the Santa Cruz Provisional Community College District on 2021 N. Grand Ave. has been quite an accomplishment.The passing of the tax rate for the provisional district board enabled a group of citizens from the board to make the kind of investment the community wanted to make in education. “As a result, we knew it was important to get a bigger facility that would be more suitable for educating our college students,” said Sue Neilsen.
Getting a bigger facility helped us be able to hire more staff, full-time faculty, have science labs and a nursing lab. We have a great board members, I have been fortunate to work with such a great group of people. “We share the same mission and vision, which made a huge difference in being able to expand the college,” said Neilsen. This has also helped to increase the number of students enrolling per school year. This past semester we had approximately 1,100 students enrolled. The expansion of the school facility helped us to also be able to offer more classes. “I am deeply grateful for having the opportunity to serve such a warm and embracing community,” said Director Sue Neilsen.
Very few community leaders are as humble, passionate, and driven enough to make such a difference in our community. The expansion of the college will help many future generations to come. We are deeply fortunate, and grateful to have such an individual like her in our community. Ms. Neilsen will be deeply missed, but her legacy of expanding higher education for our future generations will continue for many generations to come.