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Academic Senate Honors Community College Dean Cynthia Rico

Cynthia Rico is one of fifteen men and women awarded out of thousands within the California community college faculty.

By Allura Garis

SAN DIEGO—The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) honored San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) standout Cynthia Rico for her commitment to bettering the California education system. Cynthia Rico, Ed.D, is going on her 9th month as Acting Dean of Student Services and Counseling at San Diego Continuing Education (SDCE). She served prior as a Mesa College counselor at the time of being elected for the ASCCC.

The ASCCC presented Dr. Rico with a Resolution in front of her proud colleagues. This was a true honor as there are a total of 113 community colleges in California and 72 districts. Dr. Rico is 1 of 15 ASCCC members who represent all of the California community colleges as a voice for faculty.  The organization addresses current issues facing the California community college system, and reinforces educational excellence through empowerment and leadership development.

Dr. Rico began working for SDCCD in 1993 and since then has been in various leadership roles. She pursued a number of degrees from San Diego State University including a doctoral degree in education, a master’s degree in counseling (with an emphasis in multi-cultural and educational counseling) and a bachelor’s degree in Spanish. She goes above and beyond for her scholars and focuses on everything that affects their well-being. “We talk about their personal choices, hopes, dreams and fears.”  Having faced adversity herself as a first generation college graduate, she directs people to take the first step toward their future. “I meet students where they’re at. However, the ultimate decision lies on them.”

Dr. Rico referred to SDCE as a transformative movement. “I would like more people to know about adult education… knowledge frees your soul,” she exclaims. SDCE provides 40+ free short-term certificate programs as well as pathways to college.

When Dr. Rico received the honor she expressed modest excitement. “The honor was beyond me. It’s not about me, it’s about bettering the system of education.” Dr. Rico felt strongly that pursuing a degree is about more than just feeding the economy. “It’s about human connection and critical thinking.” She believes being educated is way beyond a piece of paper rather it’s about enhancing one’s self-awareness.

The award spoke loudly to her heart for education. The ASCCC Resolution reads: whereas, Cynthia Rico's indefatigable commitment to fighting injustice, sexism, racism, and other societal wrongs made her a strong advocate for underrepresented and disenfrachised students throughout the state.


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San Diego Continuing Education is the adult education division of the San Diego Community College District. It was one of the first community college continuing education institutions in California to meet the standards for independent accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Approximately 45,000 students are served per academic year at six main campuses in San Diego and 200 offsite community locations. Noncredit classes are available at no cost.

Classes are free because San Diego Continuing Education is part of the California system of higher education. Funding also comes through business and industry partnerships. Learn more at