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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

New Campus Director Settles Into Fresno

February 6, 2013

SJVC Campus Director Sumer Jackson Sumer Avila has a clear vision of what SJVC’s Fresno campus can become. “As one of the first three campuses, the Fresno campus has enjoyed a long-standing position of accomplishment,” says Ms. Avila. “The timing is great for new leadership to take it to new heights.”

Having spent two very productive years as the Director of Instruction at the corporate office in Visalia, Ms. Avila was excited to get back among students and into a position that might impact them more precisely. “The most rewarding position in the institution is that of a Campus Director,” she says. “I want to play a direct role in transforming student lives through enrollment, graduation and job placement assistance.”

Ms. Avila’s education, experience in the field and affinity for hands-on leadership and team-building position her and her campus for great success. Her education includes a Master of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees, and she is currently working on her Doctorate, with plans to defend her dissertation in December, 2014.

Previous to SJVC, Ms. Avila worked for almost ten years in public education as an administrator, where she honed her skills in staff development, stakeholder collaboration and quality education and service provision.

And, there is a lot of change ahead for the Fresno campus. “My heart has always been in working with students and teams, those who are change agents,” says Avila, who vows to bring some fun and innovation back into Fresno’s campus life. Some exciting changes include:

  • The campus is due for an aesthetic make-over and message boards, posters, student photos and display cabinets will be updated and brightened.
  • Classrooms will enjoy hi-tech ‘i-clickers, a student hand-held voting device that will allow instructors to poll students at any point to get immediate feedback on lesson understanding. It is a ‘thumb on the pulse’ tool that will guide instructors on pace, clarity and comprehension of their lessons/demonstrations.
  • A Bring-a-friend-to-class Day and Student Appreciation Day will be combined to increase the fun level. A ‘What not to Wear to an Interview’ fashion show is planned during which staff and faculty will model unsuitable business attire, while students will model appropriate dress-for-success looks.

Ms. Avila is often seen walking the Fresno campus halls to connect with students, observing classes and meeting with students. “I want to find out what we are doing that works for them, what contributes to their success, so that we can focus on more of those kinds of behaviors and practices,” she says.

Sumer Avila models the work ethic and leadership of her mentor, Wendy Mendes, SJVC’s Vice President of Administration and who will celebrate 35-years with the college this year. “She is the most inspiring person who demonstrates the greatest balance of unwavering pursuit of excellence with the admiration of and love for our students,” says Avila. “I look up to her for what she has accomplished.”

Sumer Avila knows something about balance. After a long work-day and on weekends she restores some of her energy and quiets her active mind with preparation for a local triathlon scheduled for April. Each week she spends about 10-hours swimming, biking and running in preparation of the big event.

Her eyes are always on the prize, and her students and her campus are sure to benefit.


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