Community Column: Exposure to a college atmosphere can change lives

October 15, 2019

Dr. Robert Garza

As a community college that serves the southern most sectors of San Antonio and Bexar County, we believe supporting students of all ages influences the path toward a successful life.

I didn't visit a college campus for the first time until I was a senior in high school. That visit was the first time I thought college could be a possibility, and it caused me to reevaluate my goals and possibilities for my future. Access to higher education changed the trajectory of my life and that of my family.

Palo Alto College has maintained a long-standing practice of creating access points and opportunities for our entire community to join us on campus. One of our top priorities has been to engage future Palominos from a young age, so that our college feels like a natural next step after high school graduation. We do this through various events, resources, and programs, such as Learn to Swim, which brings second graders from local school districts for swimming lessons in our Olympic-sized swimming pool.

On Tuesday, we officially opened Palomino Park on campus. It's close to the fitness trail and adjacent to the campus's Aquatic and Athletic Center and Ozuna Library, with community access from Villaret Boulevard.

Through a grant awarded by the San Antonio Sports School Parks program, and with funding from the City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department and support from the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation, a San Antonio Area Foundation fund, Palo Alto College dedicated the park - a community area that includes a playground, picnic tables, and charcoal grills. The new space was created to provide a family friendly environment for children and their families; its aim is to encourage community fitness and educational awareness.

This year, the Palo Alto College Alumni & Friends Association will host the inaugural Palomino Pumpkin Patch in the Central Courtyard of our campus. The community-wide event is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19, and Sunday, Oct. 20. It will feature a hay maze, fall crafts, face painting, and other fall fun activities for the whole family.

Our hope is that our neighbors know Palo Alto College is a place where we build up our community through learning and engaging with one another. With the support of dedicated faculty and staff who care deeply about our community, Palo Alto College will remain a place of hope and will continue to serve as champions for educational access for all.

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