In a year when college campuses reopen after a global pandemic, two nursing students will be the student trustees on the Board of the San Bernardino Community College District.
Cosmic coincidence? Probably.
Lauren Ashlock, 19, will represent Crafton Hills College and 19-year-old Elena Sanchez Paez will represent San Bernardino Valley College. They were elected by a vote of their peers, and they were sworn in on June 10, via Zoom, for a one-year term.
Their job is to speak for students at the public meetings of the San Bernardino Community College District Board of Trustees, who decide the big picture issues of financial aid, new buildings, campus safety, and just recently, hiring a new leader.
Last month the trustees voted to appoint Diana Z. Rodriguez as the district’s 16th Chancellor. She has been president of San Bernardino Valley College and on August 1 she will lead the system that serves 20,000 students through two campuses, a workforce training facility, and KVCR TV/FM.
Both of the new student trustees said they will be learning from more experienced board members as they go, trying to stretch themselves to meet new people and speak up for the needs of the students.
The pandemic meant studying online for their entire first year. So they are looking forward to more on-campus time to get to know the buildings and food spots and study halls and student events. They are glad for the challenge.
“Since I want to be a nurse, I should start helping people,” said Sanchez, a graduate of Redlands High School. “I should start with my school. I want to be out of my comfort place and meet new people.”
She said the pandemic has been very stressful for students and if there is something the trustees can do to provide more emotional support, that is one thing she would suggest.
Sanchez is fully bilingual in English and Spanish. She lives in San Bernardino with an aunt. She said she is studying to be a nurse because her mother is a nurse in Mexico. “I used to go to the hospital with her and help the patients.” She hopes to finish her program at San Bernardino Valley College and then transfer to Cal State San Bernardino to earn a degree in nursing.
Ashlock is a graduate of Loma Linda Academy and has been taking her Crafton Hills classes online in the pandemic year at the same time as her parents and her siblings have been working and studying from home.
“We have been working in close proximity and I’m mostly glad of that,” Ashlock said. But she is ready to feel more involved at school. “My goal is just to listen to the students and do what is best for them.”
Her own healthcare dream is to be a Physician’s Assistant one day. “I like the flexibility and I like the hands-on time with patients, and I think I will be able to keep a balance between work and the rest of my life,” she said.
Her memory of meeting a Physician’s Assistant comes from an event three years ago when her father had a boating accident that required serious stitching on his hand. She will finish her program at Crafton and then apply to transfer to Loma Linda University.
“I’m more interested in the patient care side of things,” Ashlock said. “I’m a people person. I like to interact with people.”
That is a common refrain from students who are missing out on some of the traditional fun of walking around a college campus in person. When classes start on August 16, she and all the other students will get a chance to do just that.
For details about upcoming public meetings of the SBCCD Board of Trustees meetings, go to sbccd.edu.