Community Column: Expanding educational opportunities for all

July 25, 2019

Dr. Robert Garza

Palo Alto College has always been dedicated to building educational opportunities that support the growing community in south San Antonio and Bexar County. We have collaborated with school districts and business partners to create partnerships that directly support our students, including our dual credit program, where students can simultaneously earn high school and college credit, and seven early college high schools, where students can earn an associate degree or 60 hours of college credit while still enrolled in high school.

These educational partnerships have been part of our collective journey to success. This year, Palo Alto College was named a Rising Star award winner of the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation's signature award for high achievement and performance in community colleges, and was recognized for partnerships with K-12 systems.

Additionally, the Alamo Colleges District was named a recipient of the 2018 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, which recognizes innovation and sustainable excellence. These recognitions are evidence that these partnerships are truly transforming lives, and we want to continue exploring ways to expand our partnerships to serve our entire community.

As part of the bond package approved by Bexar County voters in 2017, the Alamo Colleges District will open the Southside Education and Training Center (SETC) on land provided by Southside Independent School District near Highway 281 and FM 2537, just behind Losoya Intermediate School.

Much like the Alamo Colleges District's Westside Education and Training Center and the Eastside Education and Training Center, the new SETC will offer programs from Palo Alto College including workforce training programs, career assistance, advising, high school equivalency test preparation, college enrollment services, and other programs designed to help the surrounding region.

As we continue developing education and workforce plans for the SETC, we need input on the programming you would like to see the facility provide to directly support you, your family, and our community.

In partnership with Southside Independent School District and the Alamo Colleges District, we will host a special presentation and workshop on Thursday, July 25, from 6–7 p.m. at the Judith Lozano Professional Development Center Building (1680 Martinez-Losoya Road) to gather recommendations and feedback that will guide the continued development of programmatic offerings. The workshop is free and open to the public. To register for the workshop, visit If you are unable to attend the session, please visit to complete a short survey and provide any specific comments you may have.

This is an exciting opportunity for Palo Alto College, the Alamo Colleges District, and Southside Independent School District, and we look forward to continuing this journey together towards building a strong and vibrant community.

This column by Dr. Robert Garza, president of Palo Alto College, was originally published in the San Antonio Express-News' Southside Reporter and