Faculty Q&A with Campus Dean Adriana Ruiz
Adriana Ruiz wears a lot of hats in her leadership and support role as Campus Dean for SJVC’s Porterville and Delano campuses. But none is more important than her Dean of Student Services hat. She measures her success and that of her faculty and staff on the success of each of her students.
What are your responsibilities as Campus Dean?
I directly support Student Services, Academics and Facilities Management. I oversee and support all staff and faculty. I also hire and supervise custodian and security officers and order equipment and supplies to make sure everyone has what they need – on both campuses.
But the two biggest hats I wear are Dean of Student Services where I provide academic counseling and resources for Student Services and Academic Dean where I complete classroom observations to develop faculty and ensure the integrity of our programs.
How do you merge those two very impactful roles?
The desired outcome is to grow my team – faculty and staff – while doing everything I can to support my students through to their graduation.
What is your professional management style?
I like to lead by example and model professionalism in the way I present myself and speak with faculty and students. I’ve had a lot of role models in my 12-years with SJVC – many different people who have inspired me. I learned to be a visionary leader from my Campus President.
I learned from Carole Brown, SJVC Senior Leader (retired) to meet the student where they are. Some students need more support than others to achieve success. And listening is a big part of supporting that process.
I’ve learned to look at the big picture and to empower my team to help me get there. We are stronger as a group than anyone is individually.
What best prepared you to do this job?
As a little kid my career goal was to be a teacher. I got my bachelor’s degree in Business and worked as a recruiter for a staffing agency. We were invited to SJVC’s Hanford campus to participate in mock interviews with students who were about to graduate and begin their job search. When I saw the investment SJVC made in their students, I was inspired. And I felt I could make a difference in SJVC’s students by coaching them in their job search and interview process.
This was an opportunity to do something I’d always wanted to do – to be a teacher, to work in education. My first position was in the Career Services Department, realizing my childhood dream of teaching students how to successfully conduct their job search, application, and interview.
What was your career trajectory at SJVC?
I started in 2009 in Career Services and over the years I moved into a corporate position where I traveled to all the campuses. When I learned that SJVC opened a campus in Porterville, I raised my hand, ready for campus responsibility in this leadership position.
I participated in SJVC’s Leadership Training and shadowed 5-6 different Campus Presidents in their role as campus leaders. At the same time, I made a decision to go back to school and earn a master’s degree, as I wanted to be a good resource for my (eventual) faculty.
In January 2017 I became Campus President (title now Campus Dean) for Porterville. Last year when SJVC reorganized the smaller ‘community’ campuses to share Career Services, Admissions and Financial Aid departments I thought about other areas I could be involved in, to better support SJVC. I then asked for the opportunity to be Campus Dean for both the Porterville and Delano campuses.
It is working out really well. By merging faculty from two campuses, teams can collaborate with each other and have exposure to new ideas, teaching styles and strategies as they get a wider range of support.
How do you impact student success on your campuses?
The beauty of it is I get to work directly with students and fulfill my passion for student success. I help them overcome obstacles in school or life – whatever they’re struggling with.
I make presentations to classrooms and students reach out to me on campus. I meet with students on a daily basis in the classrooms, face-to-face or via Microsoft Teams.
What is the best part of your job?
My heart matches SJVC’s vision, so it’s easier for me to work on the same page. My personal values, my personal mission aligned with SJVC’s mission.
I’m at a place in my life where I’m living in the present, enjoying the best every day in support of my team, faculty, staff, and students.
Do you have a favorite moment in your leadership role?
My favorite moment is when I see students at graduation who I know would not have made it if I had not taken a moment to encourage or support them or provide that extra effort.
Everything at SJVC is designed to support them in their career goals. We identify those students who might need coaching or support with extra life resources like childcare or a gas card. But it’s more of that personal connection and motivation to show them what they have already overcome and that they have the resources to do it again.
We will do everything within SJVC policy and guidelines to help students achieve graduation.
What words of wisdom guide your influence on those you support and serve?
One of the quotes I have in my office is “The goal is not to change who you are, but to become more of who you are at your best”.
Everything I do is because I care. I go to sleep at night knowing that if I helped at least one person get closer to their goals, I had a good day.
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