Interim Oxnard College President, Oscar Cobian, penned the following Op-Ed in the VC Star this week, describing the College’s work serving the community.

As we enter the new year, there’s much to be excited about at Oxnard College. After several years of COVID-related downturns, our college is surging ahead. From enrollment increases and new programming to local partnerships and national recognition, Oxnard College – along with our sister colleges in Moorpark and Ventura – is strongly positioned to serve Ventura County in 2024.

During the pandemic, our campus’ zip code was sadly the hardest hit in Ventura County. Sustaining the highest rates of infections, our community grappled with grief, layoffs and family responsibilities. As a result, Oxnard College saw our district’s largest loss of enrollments, with many students struggling to remain in school. Our campus will forever be shaped by that pain and loss even as we look ahead to a new chapter.

Today, Oxnard College has seen three consecutive semesters of substantial enrollment growth as we near pre-pandemic levels. Exciting new college initiatives are welcoming non-traditional students such as our expanded English as a Second Language (ESL) courses offered in partnership with the El Rio and Hueneme school districts. Additionally, our newly established PACE program offers working adults an expedited path to a degree, while our dual enrollment efforts are empowering more middle and high school students to take college-level classes on their K-12 campuses. We’re also partnering with employers like the Port of Hueneme, Naval Base Ventura County, Clinicas and others, to help meet industry needs with homegrown talent.

As a proud Hispanic-Serving Institution, we’re passionate about building an equitable campus and county. That’s why we’ve recently launched our MESA program to help underrepresented students access degrees and careers in STEM. We’ve also introduced Rising Scholars, a program helping students impacted by the criminal justice system rebuild their lives through higher education. This year, we’re also expanding food access to vulnerable students by opening our Mercado, where they can grab free food, clothing and community resources. These efforts join many long-standing programs at Oxnard College serving first-generation, military veteran and underrepresented student groups, among others.

In addition to welcoming new students to Oxnard College, we’re also welcoming more members of the community to our campus than ever before through special events and programming. Our OC LIVE event series welcomes families to attend free performances highlighting music, dance, science and more. We’ve also hosted culturally significant events such as our Día de los Muertos celebration held on campus last fall in partnership with dozens of local organizations. Additionally, later this year, we will open our campus to thousands of residents for the third annual OC Family Festival on Sunday, April 28 from 12:30-4pm.

What’s more, the Oxnard College Foundation’s weekly Community Marketplace (held Sundays from 8 a.m.-3 p.m.) is bustling like never before, with scores of food trucks and vendors selling produce and household goods to help generate funds for scholarships and basic needs grants, among other key investments. During the last Sunday of each month, the Marketplace also hosts a Swap Meet Justice Citizenship and Family Resource Fair, which provides free immigration, legal, health and community services. These efforts, in addition to campus tours and events for K-12 students, workshops, job fairs and other activities, have our college buzzing with prospective and current students, their families, community partners and alumni.

I’ve also been proud to see news of Oxnard College’s growth and excellence carrying well beyond our county line. For the second time in a row, Oxnard College was recently ranked among the nation’s top 150 community colleges (out of over 1,000), by the prestigious Aspen Institute, an organization which President Barack Obama called “the Oscars for great community colleges.” Similarly, Sacramento recently recognized our efforts by approving Oxnard College’s first-ever bachelor’s degree program (to be offered in Dental Hygiene beginning in fall 2025). Finally, just this month, our statewide accrediting agency reaffirmed the college’s accreditation with a special commendation for our work supporting underserved populations and helping them access college.

Still, few things catch more attention than the two state championships our men’s soccer team brought home in only seven years! Across California and throughout the nation, Oxnard College’s reputation for excellence is growing.

2024 is set to be a year of success at Oxnard College and that’s good news for Ventura County. From enrollment growth to community partnerships and events, innovative programming, and our growing national reputation, Oxnard College is on the move.

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