Eileen Jimenez had the opportunity to show the Highline community that she knows the ropes when it comes to setting students up for success last week.
Jimenez is one of three candidates for dean of academic transfers at Highline.
A forum showcasing Jimenez’s candidacy was held virtually on May 12.
The dean ofaAcademic transfers will be at the helm of the institution’s Guided Pathways program, which aims to smooth the road for students aiming to transfer to a four-year university after Highline.
About half of Highline’s student population is attending with the objective of pursuing a bachelor’s degree at a larger institution.
Jimenez currently serves as the Director of TRiO Student Support and Retention Services, which serves students whose parents have not graduated from college or are low-income.
She said that the challenges of student life almost kept her from pursuing an education due to parental concern.
“As much as my mom wanted me to go to college, she also didn’t want me to join,” she said. “Because she was really scared of what living in the dorms would mean and what leaving my family would mean. But my director, who spoke Spanish, convinced her and I was able to go.”
She now possesses a bachelor’s degree from UCLA, a master’s degree in counseling from California State Long Beach, and is currently working on getting her doctorate in education.
The last decade saw Jimenez constructing relationships with primary and secondary schools, as well as school districts. In addition to being TRIO Director, she is also the Undocumented Student Task Force founder and chair.
During her time at Highline, she has been involved with programs such as Summer Bridge, Guided Pathways, La Conferencia, Advising Council, Math Attainment Committee and the COVID Relief Funds Committee.
“I’ve created and supported initiatives like Summer Bridge where students are able to earn seven credits towards their associates degree in a cohort model,” she said. “They build a strong relationship with the faculty who teach the course, while making sure that their financial aid is complete, they’re encouraged to do career exploration as well.”
Jimenez is also the leader of the Highline First Generation Student Success Seminar.
“We’re all incoming first generation students [who] are invited to connect and to start building connections with other students, faculty and staff through lectures workshops and activities, which again is really important since Highline since has more than 70 percent [first-generation students],” she said.
She said she understands the hardships that may come with navigating the needs of staff and students, especially during the ongoing public health crisis.
“I think when thinking about equity and advising loads and navigating training and shifts, with the modality of instruction, especially those that we have seen resulting from the pandemic, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the needs and the realities for faculty, students departments and staff and to understand that it’s not going to be the same, right? It’s not business as usual,” she said.
Jimenez said that it is vital to recognize the diverse circumstances different students may face when catering to their various needs.
“I think it’s important to understand the different factors also so when you’re developing systems to distribute students equitably to ensure both staff, faculty, students, students are getting their needs met,” she said. “So obviously I know that there are really complex factors that go into that like the size of the program, the number of faculty members, and students in the program.”