In December I will begin my third term as the Valley’s representative on the Allan Hancock College Board of Trustees. As a lifelong resident of Solvang and Hancock alum, I know the value of our local college. During my time as trustee, I have seen the college’s recognition of the importance of serving the Santa Ynez Valley grow even stronger and that is why I am voting to support Measure Y on the November 6 ballot.
My service to Hancock College began when I joined the AHC Foundation. As a 501c3 nonprofit organization, we were successful at raising funds for scholarships and promoting the college, but the past few years brought us success that is unique in the California Community College system. This year the college enrolled the first cohort of students eligible for the Hancock Promise, a privately funded program that provides one free year of tuition for every high school graduate in the college service area, including the Santa Ynez Valley. The program is working quite well for our Valley – as enrollment at AHC from Santa Ynez Valley Union High School increased 129% this year because of the Promise Program!
The focus on community is something that is important to the board of trustees and you can see it in the daily operations of the college. Our faculty and staff secured $24 million from the state (to be combined with a $10 million donation) to build a new fine arts classroom building that will house cutting edge programs in graphic design, computer animation, virtual reality programming, and digital photography. These are the types of skills needed for 21st Century jobs and complement our other programs that lead to transfer and careers.
Measure Y will also expand the career education programs offered by PCPA and on display almost every summer night in Solvang. You know that the college, through PCPA, delivers amazing productions and draws visitors to our community. What you may not realize is that the behind the scenes work of building sets, lighting the stage and providing sound is done by students in the PCPA technical theater programs. Last year the college graduated more than twenty students from the technical theater program and every one of them landed a job in the industry! Measure Y will provide modern, state of the art equipment to not just to produce great theater in Solvang, but also to train students for good paying jobs!
I am proud to join the other trustees who have worked hard to ensure that your investment in Allan Hancock College is honored. Measure Y is carefully crafted to replace infrastructure that has outlived its useful life and to provide enhancements to our career technical education and public safety programs.
The college has widespread support for Measure Y, including from the Solvang Chamber of Commerce. I hope you will support the future of AHC and join me with your vote of YES on Measure Y on November 6.
Greg Pensa represents the Santa Ynez Valley on the Allan Hancock College board of trustees. You can find more information on Measure Y at HancockMeasureY.com and facebook.com/HancockMeasureY.