Meet OCC's President: Dr. Angelica Loera Suarez
On July 2019, Dr. Angelica Loera Suarez began serving as the 11th President of Orange Coast College (OCC). An educational leader for more than 30 years, she oversees Orange County's largest community college, which has been serving students since 1947. With a student population of more than 20,000, OCC provides exemplary programs leading to Associate degrees and certificates in more than 130 career programs. OCC is a leader in transfers to four-year institutions, a designated "Military Friendly Institution," a qualifying Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and boasts the only community college sailing and seamanship program in the state.
Before accepting the presidency at OCC, Dr. Suarez served as the Vice President for Student Affairs for the Southwestern Community College District. In this role, she was responsible for the leadership of the District's student support services and programs serving approximately 20,000 students each semester in five locations. Additional administrative experience includes serving Southwestern College as Acting Superintendent/President; Acting Vice President for Academic Affairs; and Academic Dean for the Higher Education Centers in Otay Mesa and San Ysidro. While working for City Colleges of Chicago, she served as Academic Dean at Wilbert Wright Community College. Dr. Suarez has held faculty positions in counseling at Wright College and Southwestern College.
Dr. Suarez is recognized as a collaborative leader focused on creating accessible and equitable pathways to higher education for all students. As past president of the California Community Colleges Chief Student Services Officers organization, she championed statewide reform focused on the implementation of innovative, responsive and equitable student success initiatives designed to close student educational achievement gaps. As chair of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Chief Student Services Officers, she led efforts to strengthen the pathway for students to local transfer universities.
At Southwestern College, her steadfast commitment to increasing access for all students resulted in the design of intentional pathways for students through support services inside and outside of the classroom, such as a First Year Experience Program, HSI/Title V's Doorways to the Future program, and the Student Veterans Resource Center. True to this commitment, she led efforts to build two new comprehensive education centers in the communities of Otay Mesa and San Ysidro.
Dr. Suarez' personal narrative as an immigrant and first-generation college student connects her very directly to the shared experiences of California community college students. Her collective community college experience has provided her with multiple perspectives as a former student, classified staff member, faculty member, and administrator. Her educational background includes a doctoral degree in educational leadership and policy studies from Loyola University Chicago, a master's degree in counseling psychology from California State University at Long Beach, a bachelor's degree in psychology from California State University at Long Beach, and an associate degree from East Los Angeles College.