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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

STAYING ON: Arlene Purisima Creates a Long and Successful Career at the Santa Maria Campus

November 14, 2023

On January 1, 2020, two and a half months before COVID hit, San Joaquin Valley College acquired Santa Barbara Business College (SBBC). Arlene Purisima was working in the financial aid department of SBBC at the time. She had started there when she was 18 years old. While others in her department began looking elsewhere for work, Arlene contacted Anthony Romo, VP of Student Services who managed the SJVC financial aid department. She asked him if she could stay through the transition. He said to apply; she did, and the rest is history. She can now look back on thirty years of a successful career in Santa Maria, helping students navigate the financial aid process to prepare for their future careers. She still has her family of four children plus extended family nearby and a wonderful community around her.

This is her story.


Tell me about yourself.

I was born and raised here in Santa Maria, CA.  I am ¾ Filipino and ¼ Chinese. My parents were born in the Philippines and migrated here at a young age. I am the oldest child; I have one brother. I have four kids, one stepdaughter and a step-grandchild. My oldest child Lindsey, graduated from CSU Fullerton in Education, is now 23 years old and getting married in a few weeks. My only son, Damien attends SJVC online for the Information Technology program. My twelve-year-old daughter Evangilene is in junior high and my youngest daughter, Salene, is eight years old.


So by staying on at the Santa Maria campus these thirty years, generations of your family have managed to stay close by.

Yeah, I’m amazed all around that I’m still here. Actually kind of shocked. I never thought I would have this kind of career.


What is it about working at SJVC that has kept you there after the transition from SBBC?

For one, since it’s a smaller campus you get to know the students and your co-workers better. Having great co-workers at SJVC really helps. Secondly, the quality of the work we do with incoming students, the ability to support their process, is unique I think to most financial aid departments and makes my job so satisfying.  We offer one-on-one appointments with students where we can explain the process to them and answer any specific questions they might have. Our process has always remained the same; the only thing that changed over the years is the interest rates. We’re a great team now,  like a well-oiled machine. We don’t need to be micromanaged; we all know what we’re supposed to do.


How do you feel about this moment in time? Can you believe it’s been 30 years?

I think it’s great. It shows I’m loyal to a fault! Other people jumped ship when they were bought out. But I have always liked what I do. I never thought I’d like it. At 18, I just thought I’d give it a try and then stayed because I liked it. I surprised myself. I wake up every morning and feel good about going to work. I’m happy.


If there was one thing you could change about your experience of the last 30 years, what would it be?

At a younger age, I might have tried to get my degree instead of going first for a certificate program. But now SJVC is even giving employees opportunities to go back to school.


Do you have anything else you would like to add?

I’m thankful for the opportunity to keep doing the work I do for the college. They see that I do it well and they have entrusted me with it. I’m grateful they believe in me.



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