State of the College highlights accomplishments

Nov 21, 2023Jacquelynn Conger
Dr. Brenda Hellyer speaking at the 2023 State of the College
Dr. Brenda Hellyer

PASADENA, Texas — On Thursday, Nov. 9, Dr. Brenda Hellyer, San Jacinto College Chancellor, delivered the State of the College to the Board of Trustees, elected officials, community members, and faculty and staff both virtually and in person. The presentation – titled “Within These Walls” – concentrated on three areas: the success of students; the innovation and dedication of the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff; and the impact on the community.

San Jac students:

San Jac is the caretakers of students’ hopes and dreams, and it is a responsibility that is not taken lightly. The College focuses on student success and providing a quality educational experience to each person who comes through the doors. 

Jordan Williams is a young man who will earn his associate degree in computer engineering and transfer to Prairie View A&M as a part of Houston Guided Pathways to Success. This program, known as Houston GPS, is an initiative involving 13 area community colleges and universities that work together so students can seamlessly transfer to earn a bachelor’s degree without losing credits.

Raul Diaz and Estevan Salinas, both first generation college students, spent four months working at the European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN). They were the only two community college students helping with a groundbreaking particle physics research project for four months alongside university students from across the country and world.

Kiri Rhone, an alumna who earned four credentials from San Jac, went from living in her car to fulfilling her passion of helping people. As an adult student, Rhone started her educational journey later in life. But she earned her CNA in 2018, then her LVN in 2019, her RN in 2021 and her BSN in 2022. Today, she is a board-certified cardiovascular nurse with HCA Healthcare Clear Lake.

San Jac Board of Trustees, faculty, staff:

The staff at San Jacinto College work diligently to improve the learning experience for each student who walks on a San Jac campus. 

Dr. Tyler Olivier has found a way to make his biology class more engaging and impactful. His students participate in service-learning – where they go into the community to help with projects while also applying classroom learning through relevant, real-world experiences.

Kristine Kern, who serves as the emergency medical services paramedic professor and clinical coordinator, won the inaugural Vanguard Award for career excellence. Kern was the only educator and Texan selected for the award, presented by the American Ambulance Association, because of her passion for teaching.

The San Jacinto College Board of Trustees was recognized for its continued focus on access, equity, and the success of students by the Association of Community College Trustees with the Western Region Equity Award. The Board demonstrated an exceptional commitment to achieving equity within the College to be eligible for this award.

The San Jac community:

San Jacinto College has demonstrated over the past 62 years the commitment the College has to the community. Two of the primary ways this commitment was highlighted are through creating new opportunities and removing financial barriers so students can take advantage of those opportunities.

The College announced two new bachelor’s degree programs this year – a Bachelor of Applied Science in early childhood education and a Bachelor of Applied Technology in Cybersecurity. Finding qualified teachers is a struggle for this area, Texas, and the nation. San Jac is offering local paraprofessionals and others with an associate degree the opportunity to take the next step toward becoming a teacher with a low-cost program designed for a working person. Cybersecurity is a rapidly growing field that is expected to see a 35% growth by 2031, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics; the new degree program in cybersecurity will provide hands-on technical experience. Both of the new bachelor’s degrees at San Jac were developed to help address the growing workforce needs.

Additionally, San Jac will launch a biomanufacturing certificate in January and plans to open a Center for Biotechnology at the Generation Park Campus in 2025. This growing field has a need for a trained workforce, so the College partnered with the National Institute of Bioprocessing Research & Technology to provide the curriculum that represents the highest standards of the industry. The College will offer an associate degree in bio-manufacturing as well as post-graduate certifications for this growing industry.

The Promise @ San Jac Scholarship continues to grow and assist more students to get the education they need to be successful in the future. The last-dollar scholarship allows graduating seniors who reside in the College’s taxing district to earn a workforce certificate or associate degree at no cost. While still early in its execution, San Jac is seeing that about two-thirds of the first cohort are experiencing favorable outcomes. For the fall 2023 cohort, San Jac saw more than 3,000 Promise Scholars join the program.

The address ended with the Chancellor thanking supporters for their assistance in making the educational goals a reality for students at San Jacinto College and looking to continue to build on the support and momentum the College has made. “Your support means everything to our students and employees,” said Hellyer.

About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, evolving industries, maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has served the people of East Harris County, Texas, since 1961. The College is one of the top 10 community colleges in the nation as designated by the Aspen Institute and was named an Achieving the Dream Leader College of Distinction in 2020. The College is a Hispanic-Serving Institution that spans five campuses, serving approximately 41,000 credit and non-credit students annually. It offers more than 200 degrees and certificates across eight major areas of study that put students on a path to transfer to four-year institutions or enter the workforce. The College is fiscally sound, holding bond ratings of AA+ by Standard & Poor’s and Aa2 by Moody’s.

For more information about San Jacinto College, visit