San Jacinto College selected as resource college for 'Unlocking Opportunity' initiative

Feb 13, 2023Amanda Fenwick
San Jacinto College has been selected as the resource college for Unlocking Opportunities.

National network commits to ensuring that every student can earn a bachelor's degree or high-quality workforce credential

PASADENA, Texas — The Aspen Institute, in partnership with the Community College Research Center at Teacher College, Columbia University, announced that San Jacinto College has been selected as a resource college for Unlocking Opportunity: The Post-Graduation Success and Equity Network.

This network comprises 10 community colleges, plus a resource college, committed to improving students' post-completion outcomes and proving that by focusing on delivering credentials of value colleges can strengthen the programs they offer and advising they provide.

"San Jacinto College is honored to serve as the resource college for this initiative," said Dr. Brenda Hellyer, San Jacinto College Chancellor. "By serving in this role, we have the unique opportunity to share our strategies and tactics that have helped our students become successful in completing their credentials. Our Board of Trustees, faculty, and staff have been laser-focused on improving student outcomes for many years, and we look forward to sharing and learning alongside the network colleges."

This national network will lead the field in shifting the goal from students graduating with any credential to completing with credentials of value by advancing their access and completion. That means making sure every student is on track to earn a bachelor's degree or a high-quality workforce credential, including students of color and low-income students, who are least likely to enroll in and complete the programs that most often result in strong outcomes.

As the resource college, San Jacinto College will provide insights and case studies on what's possible and provide change management advice and counsel to network leaders. San Jacinto College administrators, faculty, and staff will have an opportunity to connect with the 10 network colleges over the next five years to share, learn, participate in meetings and convenings, network, and contribute to research efforts.

Since 2011, San Jacinto College has increased the number of certificates and degrees awarded by 71.9%. Last year, the College awarded a record 8,114 credentials with nearly 3,000 transfers to four-year institutions.

San Jacinto College students are completing what they start. Through the work of initiatives such as Houston Guided Pathways to Success (Houston GPS), aligning articulation agreements to ensure that courses students complete transfer to their four-year institution, and instituting a transfer reimbursement scholarship, San Jacinto College is helping to ensure that students who want to transfer can easily do so.

At San Jacinto College, students who choose to complete their certificate or degree and enter the workforce have many programs to choose from that lead to careers in high-demand fields. Through close working relationships with industry partners throughout the region, the College listens and responds to their needs. Chancellor's advisory councils bring together C-suite leaders from industry sectors for conversations about workforce needs, and program advisory committees assist the College with curriculum development and enhancement, facilities, student support, and employment. San Jacinto College provides hands-on training and authentic learning experiences, while monitoring labor market trends to ensure that students are on pathways that lead to livable wages.

"While we have come a long way in the last 10 to 15 years, we know there is always work to be done, and we have to adapt to our students' needs," said Dr. Laurel Williamson, San Jacinto College deputy chancellor and College president. "We want to ensure that students do not fail because of a barrier we put in place. Everything we do is focused on helping our students complete their certificate or degree so they can enter the workforce with a career that pays a living wage or seamlessly transfer to the four-year university of their choice to pursue a bachelor's degree or more. We look forward to sharing our experiences with these network colleges so that we can all better support our students."

The network will run from 2023 through 2028. The colleges in the network are:

  • Alamo Colleges District: San Antonio College, TX
  • Laramie County Community College, WY
  • Lorain County Community College, OH
  • Monroe Community College, NY
  • Odessa College, TX
  • San Jacinto College, TX (resource college)
  • Sinclair College, OH
  • Southwest Wisconsin Technical College, WI
  • St. Petersburg College, FL
  • Tulsa Community College, OK
  • Valencia College, FL

The Unlocking Opportunities project is made possible by Arnold Ventures, Ascendium, ECMC Foundation, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and Lumina Foundation.

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program supports colleges and universities in their quest to achieve a higher standard of excellence, delivering credentials that unlock life-changing careers and strengthen our economy, society, and democracy. We know it takes visionary college leaders to achieve this higher standard, and we make it our mission to equip them with the knowledge, skills, and research-backed tools to inspire change, shift practice, and advance the capacity of colleges to deliver excellent and equitable student outcomes. For more information, visit our website and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. Learn more at

The Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Teachers College, Columbia University studies community colleges because they provide critical access to postsecondary education and are uniquely positioned to promote equity and social mobility in the United States. Our mission is to conduct research that helps these institutions strengthen opportunities and improve outcomes for their students, particularly those from underserved populations. Learn more at

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 five 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 and Aa2 by Standard & Poor's and Moody's.

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