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HACU Leadership Academy selects three Cypress College leaders for fellowship cohort of 25

Three of the 25 higher education leaders selected as HACU Leadership Academy fellows are from Cypress College — more than any other institution in the United States. The announcement was made earlier by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.

The three Cypress College leaders are Yanet Garcia Padilla, AnnMarie Ruelas, and Gisela Verduzco. They have been accepted as fellows into a program designed to increase diverse representation in executive and senior-level positions in higher education.

“We are proud of these three amazing leaders,” said Cypress College President JoAnna Schilling, Ph.D. “Their leadership has already improved the success of thousands of students, and we know the HACU Leadership Academy will further improve their opportunities for professional advancement and for the benefit of the students they serve. Cypress College is incredibly proud to have three fellows selected, more than any other institution in the nation. We believe this speaks to the commitment to support our employees and students as a Hispanic-Serving Institution.”

The Leadership Academy (La Academia de Liderazgo) is a one-year followship open to “talented individuals who aspire to leadership positions at Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) and Emerging HSIs,” according to HACU.

Padilla is Cypress College’s Director of Educational Partnerships and Programs for the (STEM)² Program. She launched this program in support of underserved students in the STEM fields in 2012 and has overseen its growth, which now includes oversight of a $4.1 million grant.

Ruelas is the director of Cypress College’s EOPS/CARE, CalWORKs, Guardian Scholars & Grads to Be programs — a group of services providing support to first-generation students, single parents, emancipated foster care students, students without residency documentation, and returning adults, among others. She moved into the position on an interim basis in 2017 and was selected for the permanent position in 2018.

Verduzco is the Director of Student Equity and Success. She started at Cypress College as an adjunct counselor and was later promoted to interim Director of the Student Success and Support Program in 2018 before moving into her current role in 2020. She has responsibility for the college’s Promise Program — known as the Charger Experience Program — and outreach events such as New Student Welcome Night and Commit2Cypress. Verduzco was also responsible for the implementation of Cypress College’s multiple measures and guided self-placement (AB 705).

This article was released by Cypress College.