Central Office staffer plays major role in SJVC’s accreditation
Most SJVC students have never heard of her, and probably will never meet, Crystal VanderTuig. They have no idea that Crystal spends her days making sure that campus doors stay wide open and that the education they are getting is provided by a college that has standards of quality and continuous improvement.
Crystal is SJVC’s Director of Institutional Relations/Accreditation Liaison Officer (ALO). For seven years, she has worked behind the scenes of classrooms and graduations to ensure that every student has been provided an education by a college that has met its own rigorous ideals, measurements and projected outcomes.
“I don’t get to work with students in the traditional manner,” says Crystal. “But, I feel that what I do allows us to continue to serve our students and do what we do best in good standing with our accrediting body.”
The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) is that accrediting body for San Joaquin Valley College. SJVC has enjoyed full accreditation since 1995. The Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) is the body that regulates private post-secondary institutions in California.
Crystal stresses the importance of what that 20-year track record means. “For students, regional accreditation means access to Title IV funds, and serves as assurance of the quality of academic programs we offer,” she says. “It also means that employers know that they are getting the cream of the crop in terms of our well-educated, prepared professionals.”
Crystal is both well-prepared and well-suited for her position at SJVC. She graduated from a paralegal program and in 2000 earned her Bachelor’s degree. Crystal worked for a law firm as a paralegal for about 10 years when a friend told her about the ALO position she was applying for at SJVC.
Within a couple of weeks, Crystal was on board and excited about the new direction her career had taken.
“I do feel like it is one of my callings in life,” she says. “I am a very detail- and compliance-oriented person and feel like these are put to very good use in this position, and helps protect the college.”
In addition to the compatibility of education and skills to responsibilities, Crystal has a genuine feel for those her efforts benefit.
“I do identify with some of the challenges that the majority of our student population faces,” says Crystal. “I was raised in a single-parent home and there weren’t a lot of resources and access to some of the opportunities that were available to my friends.”
Crystal knew what many SJVC students realize: A better life comes with a better education.
“I pushed myself and made education a priority,” says Crystal. “I wanted to make sure that I could provide for my family so that they wouldn’t experience the financial uncertainty and fears that I did growing up.”
She and husband Jeff, along with their children Matthew (10), Josh (7), Cassidy (3) and Arabella (2), are enjoying the life their efforts created.
Crystal is responsible for ensuring that the reports and letters sent to ACCJC are accurate and reflect what SJVC is doing to stay abreast of all requirements. “I also make sure leadership knows about those requirements and are aware of and taking action to make sure we are in compliance with all those requirements.”
“Crystal consistently shows a calm, confident demeanor – even in times that have to be high stress,” says Wendy Mendes, VP of Administration. “She is a skilled communicator and a role model of professionalism at the highest level.”
Crystal has proven herself in another arena, as well; one that balances her very cerebral profession with high-exertion physicality. She began weightlifting a year ago and brought the same discipline she employs at work to the mat.
“I’d had four children and was out of shape and tired, and knew that I needed a change,” says Crystal. “I cleaned up my diet and lost about 25 lbs, but felt like there was more I could do.” Her trainer introduced her to working with weights.
She started with 60 lbs and can now lift 150 lbs from a squat. “It proved to me that I could do something that I never thought I could do,” she says.
This lifestyle change reinforces Crystal’s favorite mantra: I can do hard things. It is a ‘fitness quote’ that she, undoubtedly, employs in every aspect of her life.