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Access to Higher Education

Access and Affordability to the California State University (CSU)

As Chair of the SJSU California Faculty Association (CFA) Political Action and Legislative Committee, I engaged in numerous efforts to advocate for greater access and affordability to for students seeking to enter the CSU system. Alongside Students for Quality Education (SQE) and fellow CFA campus leadership, I advocated for greater funding for the CSU during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 budget cycles. Additionally, I was engaged in the following state-wide efforts:

  • Avoid tuition increases by calling for a Mandatory Systemwide Fees and Tuition Moratorium
  • (Assembly Bill 393);
  • Extend protections and resources to undocumented students and their families (Assembly Bill 21: Access to Higher Education for Every Student);
  • Create a nine-member commission on free public higher education in the state as a means for examining California’s financial aid program and the need to erase the need for college debt(Assembly Bill 1038);
  • Increase the number of full-time tenure track faculty in the CSU who can better support the needs of students (Assembly Bill 1464).

See public scholarship for full list of testimonies and briefings.


College Readiness in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas

In an effort to address the critical needs of the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, the Texas Valley Communities Foundation—an affiliate of the US-Mexico Border Philanthropy Group—developed the Engaging Communities for College Readiness (ENCORE) initiative. The initiative, generally, was informed by a common and unifying vision in the Rio Grande Valley that: “We want all our kids to go to college.” The focus of the ENCORE Initiative, specifically, was to lay the groundwork for future mobilization and community investment efforts centered on educating local communities about the importance of preparing all students for postsecondary education. I was part of a research team that conducted focus group interviews with high school and college students, teachers, counselors, public and higher education administrators, parents, and community leaders in order to identify barriers and develop strategies for ensuring that the goal of obtaining a college education can be realized for all students in the Valley.

Selected publications from this project:

Cabrera, N., López, P.D. & Sáenz, V.B. (2012). Ganas: From the Individual to the Community, and the Potential for Improving College Readiness in the ‘Land that Texas Forgot’Journal of Latinos and Education, 11: 232-246.

Sáenz, V.B., Yamamura, E., Cabrera, N., López, P.D., Martínez, M., Aguilar, A., Najera, T., Muñoz, I. & Richardson, C. (2008). Understanding the perception of college readiness in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Report for the Texas Valley Communities Foundation, Edinburg, TX.