When you think of 1961, what comes to mind? Perhaps you recall that that was the year Breakfast at Tiffany’s and West Side Story landed on the big screen, or that Chubby Checker’s “Let’s Twist” hit the airwaves, or maybe you think about John F. Kennedy’s inauguration. If you grew up in the South Bay, however, you may recall that that was the year Southwestern College was first established.
The Chula Vista campus did not yet exist at that time, but thanks to a partnership with Chula Vista High School (CVHS), Southwestern was able to begin offering classes, and an important institution was in its infancy.
Since that time, Southwestern has fully matured and is turning 62-years-old this month. If it was a person, they would be able to begin collecting social security! Later this year the SWC Foundation will even have the opportunity to honor an alumnus from the college’s very first graduating class, Roger Cazares, at the annual Jaguar Awards Luncheon. Along with his wife Norma, who retired from Southwestern after serving many years as an academic counselor, the pair will be receiving the Jaguar Award which is given each year to a person or persons who have made a significant impact on Southwestern College and/or the larger regional community. In the case of the Cazareses, they most certainly have done both.
As activists in the Chicano movement, leaders within community organizations, and consistent champions of students, both at Southwestern and beyond, Roger and Norma have secured a unique and important legacy within the South Bay region.
The college has grown along with, and in many ways because of, them from those early days when Roger remembers attending class at CVHS. Having grown into an organization that is a pillar of the South Bay community, and the only institution of higher learning in south San Diego County, Southwestern College serves roughly 20,000 individuals each year across its five campuses.
With programs that range from economics to electronics, fire science to film, and arts to architecture, Southwestern College has something for everyone, and its graduates can be found in every industry imaginable, including many of the most influential positions and institutions in Chula Vista and throughout the region.
To mark another year of service to the community, and 62 years of student success, the college will be celebrating throughout the month of September. If you would like to give a birthday gift, you are invited to join in the festivities with a donation of $6, $2, or $62, or any other amount to support their amazing students and, in turn, play a vital role in the growth and development of the entire community.
You are also welcome to join in the fun of the Jaguar Luncheon on November 3rd where you can come together with hundreds of movers and shakers from throughout San Diego County to celebrate this year’s outstanding honorees, Norma and Roger Cazares. The event will be held at Sycuan Casino Resort, and will raise additional funds to help students at Southwestern reach their potential.
Visit the website for more information, and to be a part of the growing SWC Family.