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CHULA VISTA, Calif. (Border Report) — For decades, Southwestern College has been known as a campus that welcomes students from Tijuana, something the school doesn’t plan on changing. In fact, it’s going after even more students from south of the border, Superintendent and President Mark Sánchez said.

Sánchez, who is from San Diego, first came to the school as a student in the fall of 1989.

“I started as a full-time freshman, it was an amazing experience to start my educational journey at Southwestern College,” he said.

Mark Sanchez is the superintendent/president of Southwestern Community College in Chula Vista, Calif. (Courtesy: SWCC)

As of March, he began running the school in the city of Chula Vista in south San Diego County.

“Our mission is to provide access to an entire community. We know Tijuana, Mexico is an important part of our region, we also know our economic development and our community is tied between Tijuana and San Diego,” Sánchez said.

One of his main goals as superintendent and president is to actively recruit more students from Mexico, something that is not accepted or supported by everyone in the community.

“Why is it important, it gives people an equal opportunity to be able to accomplish their goals, our workforce demands it, it’s incumbent upon us to educate the next generation of our workforce,” said Sánchez, who earned his doctorate degree in education leadership from Fresno State University.

Southwestern has three satellite campuses, including one literally a few hundred yards from the border.

“I think we have created easy access for students who come over from Tijuana, it’s been a part of our organizational mission for years,” said Sánchez. “To be able to provide to people, independently of where they live, is truly our basic mission. So it’s the right thing to do, it gives people an opportunity to change their trajectory in their lives.”

Southwestern College was founded in 1961 and educates about 19,000 students yearly, including many from south of the border. (Salvador Rivera/Border Report)

In the past, Sánchez has said he has always promoted equity, diversity and inclusion among students and staff.

And according to Sánchez, he is working on establishing a binational outreach office to actively recruit more students from both sides of the border.

“It is one of my top priorities,” he said.

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