By: Janet Villarreal
As I was getting ready to interview Dr. Jose Adames, the new President of El Centro College, I could not shake off my nervousness. With all his accomplishments, awards and credentials, Dr. Adames is truly a force to be reckoned with.
Raised in New Jersey, Dr. Adames was hired as President of El Centro College in August 2014. As we spoke about his experience in Dallas thus far and his plans for the college’s future, it was easy to see the excitement and appreciation he feels about the present. “I truly believe I am exactly where I need to be”, states Dr. Adames.
Infórmate DFW: Welcome to Dallas, Dr. Adames. Coming from the New York/New Jersey area, what do you think about our city so far?
Dr. Adames: Other than the unpredictable Texas weather, it has not been that hard adjusting to Dallas, but I’ve learned to keep a coat, raincoat and an umbrella nearby. This city is vibrant, fast paced, and just as diverse, but what really con- vinced me to relocate was El Centro. When I was initially contacted about the position, I was reluctant, but took a chance and came to the in- terview without making any promises or commitments, and here I am.
IDFW: What is your mission and vision at El Centro College moving forward? What do you hope to accomplish during your tenure as President?
Dr. Adames: I would like to expand on the student success programs. The Chancellor’s vision as well as mine is to meet students where they are, and provide them with the tools and skills to achieve the American Dream, which is to enter the workforce and become, at a minimum, a middle class citizen. To get real jobs and wages that support them and their families. Another goal of ours is to grow the economy, and this is actually a goal of the whole district, not just El Centro’s. One way we hope to accomplish this is by creating a college/community/business partnership with churches, non-profit organizations, businesses and politicians at a local, state and federal level. This will help in preparing students for productive jobs; therefore, grow the economy.
IDFW: How do you feel about being the first Latino President of El Centro? Any challenges you believe you will face as President?
Dr. Adames: El Centro College is a good fit for me. There are a lot of places I know, regardless of my background or skills, I would not have been accepted or considered, but I have been very comfortable here from the get-go. Being Latino is an advantage because I can serve as a role model for the students, and I take this role very seriously.I believe I have an obligation to demonstrate to the larger community that Latinos can be accomplished in other areas beyond politics. Some of the challenges would be to diversify the staff and faculty, maintain enrollment, grow programs, and hire individuals with the appropriate background and credentials. With that being said, it is a wonderful time to be at El Centro and Dallas. There is a renewed interest in community colleges, so much it has become part of President Obama’s agenda.A strategic 5-year plan is coming to an end in August of this year, and I am excited to be part of the new direction the new Chancellor will be setting for the next 5 years.
Dr. Adames has a simple message for our young Latinos: “¡Adelante! Move forward! Pick a goal, follow that dream, and persevere no matter the obstacles.
As long as you’re willing to work hard, you can accomplish anything”.