Skyline College is not a campus isolated on the hill, but that was not always the case, said school President Regina Stanback Stroud, who cited building the college’s reputation in the community as a key accomplishment.
Stroud, who is retiring after 18 years, said one of her greatest achievements was building a bridge linking the college to residents in San Bruno and surrounding cities.
With the school’s enhanced presence, Skyline College is well positioned to serve as an educational resource for locals seeking to improve their skills in the workforce, get a degree or prepare to transfer elsewhere, she said.
To better establish the school’s presence, Stroud said she relied on a set of skills she developed during her nearly two decades in San Bruno, and the many years as an educator before.
Though she started her education career in nursing, Stroud turned her focus to administration with an emphasis on workforce development, which paid early dividends in policies she crafted during the first tech boom.
The work at Mission College in Santa Clara gained her international acclaim, and she consulted with the British government prior to 2001, when she was hired to take charge of the quaint college near Silicon Valley which at the time didn’t even have a computer science program.
Ambitious on her arrival at Skyline College to implement an innovative job development program, her efforts were almost immediately stalled when the local economy ground to a halt following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Not one to cower in the face of adversity, Stroud pivoted to accommodate displaced workers from San Francisco International Airport by offering programs which built skills for careers in the life sciences industry.
The venture was the first among many designed to establish Skyline College as an essential link connecting the northern Peninsula community to the local job market. From there, Stroud said Skyline College went on to build a hearty internship pipeline for students to local tech companies while also crafting programs teaching entrepreneurship skills to graduates entering the workforce.
All these programs depended heavily on connecting the college to its surrounding institutions for success, said Stroud.
“Outreach to the community has been essential,” she said, noting the health of the local economy over the past several years has been the wind beneath the sails of some of the workforce development programs launched during her tenure.
But with that job growth and economic success for some has come hardship for others, said Stroud, recognizing the opportunity gap for many Skyline College students has widened.
Most notably, the increased cost of living spread across the Peninsula has hit some of her students especially hard, shaking the foundations for stable housing, food, employment and education opportunities.
As a response, Stroud help launched the school’s SparkPoint Center, which offers blanket support services to students struggling to balance their mounting obligations while attending classes.
Harkening back to her time at Howard University when she relied on federal aid and a job at McDonald’s for tuition, income and a steady meal plan, Stroud said she knows the value of the sort of support availed through SparkPoint.
The center also furthers Stroud’s mission as an educator, she said, which is to assure access is granted to all students in hopes of enhancing equity through education.
“I believe you should be able to have access regardless of resources,” said Stroud, who noted the free tuition offered through the school’s Promise Scholars initiative is another innovative service granting greater access to education.
Stroud’s commitment to accommodating all students will endure, said Maurice Goodman, president of the San Mateo County Community College District Board of Trustees.
Recalling the admiration and respect directed toward her by colleagues and students at a recent women’s leadership event, Goodman said the moment will create for him a lasting memory as Stroud turns to her next chapter.
“Her selflessness will always be remembered for me,” he said. “This is just a transitional time for her. She is in no way done with education or continuing to make an impact.”
Stroud agreed, saying she already established an educational consulting company which she plans to operate while also weighing some creative opportunities which she was previously offered but could not pursue as a full-time administrator.
Before she takes up her next endeavor though, Stroud and her wife have a vacation booked to France — her favorite place in the world, where she visits as often as she can.
Heading into a transitional phase, Stroud reflected positively on her time at the college which she made a larger part of San Bruno and the surrounding community.
“I felt I gave to Skyline all that Skyline deserves,” she said.
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