This month’s people that “echo’ choice is Stella Perez. A native of Tucson, Arizona, and, a first-generation college student, Dr. Perez earned a Bachelor of Science degree, from the Eller College of Business, at the University of Arizona. She graduated sum.ma cum laude, with a Masters of Arts in Education Technology from Northern Arizona University, AZ and holds a Ph.D. in Educational Administration from the University of Texas, Austin, TX.
Stella Perez currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Executive Director for the Santa Cruz County Provisional Community College District (SCCPCCD). In this role, she leads the District’s strategic planning, accreditation, and facilities development, as well as representing the Board of Governors as liaison to legislative, state, regional, and national relations. Her responsibilities include, district growth, enrollment development, and community engagement through workforce development, partnership outreach, and bi–national relations. Prior to her role at SCCPCCD, she served as the Interim Vice Chancellor of Operations at Pima Community College leading accreditation and enrollment management strategies.
Ms. Perez held positions with non-profit higher education associations as the Senior Vice President of Communications and Advancement for the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), and the Chief Operations Officer (COO) at the League for Innovation in the Community College. She came from a large Hispanic family of eight children, that emphasized education.
Ms. Perez recalls the power her father’s words had on her and how they influenced her decision to pursue a higher education. Mija there are three things in this world that no one can take away from you. The money may come and go, but no one can take your faith, your family, or your education. “We did not have much money, and my parents worked very hard–all the time to ensure that we had what we needed. We worked all through school. These are values I have tried to share with my own children,” said Ms. Perez.
Her father was a civil service aircraft painter in Chula Vista, CA. She was born there before her father was transferred to Davis Monthan Air Force Base, in Tucson, Arizona. Ms. Perez grew up in Tucson, Arizona. Her mother still resides in the same home down the street where she attended elementary school and church.
Ms. Perez father was raised in a border town in Texas, spoke little English, and migrated to Avondale, AZ. He was a painter most of his career, before he broke his back as a civil service aircraft painter, and became disabled. He later went to Pima Community College to complete an Associate Degree in Social Work to provide for his family. His tenacity to move forward after experiencing a life changing event inspired her to pursue a higher education. “Watching him, as a young girl, I recognized the power of higher education, access, and the ability of learning to transform a family,” said Perez. Also a number of outstanding teachers and professors played vital roles in helping to support and mentor her.
Ms. Perez is happily married to Master Carpenter who works for Willet-Hauser restoring churches and historic building around the country. Mother of two, her son is a Sophomore at UC-Boulder, and a nine-year old daughter—she loves arts & crafts, and playing volleyball.
Ms. Perez would like to thank the Santa Cruz County Community for their care and support during this transition time, and especially the Santa Cruz County Superintendent’s Office. Special Thanks goes to the Pima Community College Board, Chancellor Lambert, Dr. Dolores Duran Cerda, Ted Roush, & the Desert Vista Team— for all of their great work establishing a Fall 2017 and offering financial aid.
She would like to personally thank the Santa Cruz County Provisional Community College District Board of Governors who have been through many changes over the past years with the college but understand the value of the college to the community and stand committed. Also, the newly hired SCC Team—Leticia Cuevas, Aleisdy Palazuelos, Christie Monreal, and Alex Alvarez—they are here day-in and day-out to take care of all the community needs and ensure students have an exceptional service experience!
“We have listened to students voices and we have heard very clearly their desire and choice for a community college in the county, and I will do all I can to ensure that the Santa Cruz Center offers quality education and grows with the community over the years with students and into the future,” said Stella Perez.