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Napa Valley College Celebrates National #HSIWeek!

As a federally-designated Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), Napa Valley College is proud to celebrate our students’ achievements and honored to help them reach and exceed their goals. More than 45 percent of the college’s student population identifies as Hispanic/Latinx, and nearly 47 percent are the first in their family to attend college. In our 12th year as an HSI, we are excited to celebrate our students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Meet Jennifer Aguayo
Jennifer is a proud alum who is inspiring the next generation at NVC as a mathematics instructor.

Jennifer Aguayo


“I began my higher education at Napa Valley College in 2008, immediately after high school. Although I initially majored in Electrical Engineering, with the guidance of NVC counselors and math professors, I changed my major to Mathematics. Words are not enough to express the gratitude I have towards NVC staff, faculty, and programs, such as MESA, PUENTE, EOPS and Student Support Services (SSS), for helping me get to where I am today.

Twelve years after starting my higher education journey, I am back at NVC as a third-year mathematics instructor, with a B.S. in Mathematical Sciences from UCSB and an M.S. in Mathematics from Cal Poly SLO. My initial motivation to go to college was the prospect of someday having the financial stability that I did not have growing up. Now, my ambitions are less driven by monetary value and more by the satisfaction of teaching and helping others. I owe so much to this college, and I am happy that I get to give back through this role.”

Meet Omar Peña
Omar is a proud alum who is stewarding the next generation at NVC as our student affairs specialist in NVC’s Transfer Center.

“I can honestly say that I would not be who I am today without the help of Napa Valley College. My first exposure to the college was in high school through the TRiO program Upward Bound. Once I reached the college as a student, I was admitted into the Student Support Services (SSS) TRiO program. Not only did TRiO provide me with advisors to guide me through my educational journey, they also introduced me to the importance of group study sessions, and also gave me a taste of what, at the time, was going to be my future university via a campus trip where I would earn my Bachelor’s in Business Administration (Sacramento State University).

As a first generation college student, I didn’t have someone outside of the college to help guide me through the transfer process. By attending an HSI campus, and participating in TRiO, I was relieved. The help was greatly appreciated, and to this day, I still keep in touch with my advisors. My positive experience participating in support programs aided me in my decision to come back to the college as an employee. I now work in the Transfer Center as a student affairs specialist, helping students achieve their goal of transferring to a four-year university.”

Meet Shanice Watts
NVC’s status as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) provided Shanice enhanced academic offerings and support that made her dreams a reality – NVC to UC Berkeley to Stanford University.

“When I came to NVC immediately after high school I knew I wanted to practice medicine but I was unsure of what I wanted to major in. It was not until I joined SSS, TRiO when I was encouraged to explore my interests and eventually major in Chemistry. SSS developed a community of support and helped me acquire tangible skills that I brought with me to University of California, Berkeley, where I eventually attained a B.A. in Chemistry with highest honors. Now, I am a third-year physician assistant student at Stanford University, pursing my Masters in Physician Assistant Studies degree on track to graduate in 8 months. Looking back if it was not for SSS, NVC faculty, and MESA for their mentorship and endless support, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am forever thankful for the NVC community!”

Meet Luis Alcazar
He is a proud alum who is a caring advocate for our student community as NVC Associate Dean, MESA/STEM Program Services.

“As someone who identifies as P’urhepecha and Xicano, I value that in addition to serving as an educational resource to all its students, Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) like NVC include a particular focus on students whose ancestral roots are based in a country impacted by Spanish colonization. This includes a focus on Indigenous students from these countries.

MyNVCStory begins in Vallejo where I was raised by a single mother and contributing to the household physically and financially was my norm from the age of eleven. Although higher education was never an apparent option for me, I traded my daytime framing job for a graveyard shift at FedEx SFO to join a friend and together become freshmen at Napa Valley College (NVC) in Fall 2000. I vividly remember the day that I burst into tears because my EOPS counselor expressed to me that I could do anything that I set my mind to. Before that session, nobody had ever vocalized to me that I had academic potential.

As a result of this validation and the very proactive, intrusive, and social justice-based support of the EOPS, MESA, and SSS TRiO programs, I transmuted into a confident 4.0 student leader by the end of my first year. I transferred to UC Berkeley two years later, where I earned a mechanical engineering degree after the challenging navigation of an institution not designed to serve students like me. I later completed my M.S in engineering management at California State University, East Bay, which is also a HSI, and am currently in the second year of my Ph.D. program in adult and higher education at Oregon State University.

I returned to NVC in early 2018 to serve as the associate dean of MESA and STEM programs and have the privilege of assisting in the preparation of future NVC alumni for years to come.”

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