President Quiñones prioritizes student relationships

As the California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) campus said farewell to former President Eduardo Ochoa, it also welcomed new President Vanya Quiñones. Quiñones has been here for only two weeks but has been working hard to make her presence known to everyone on campus. 

Quiñones came from New York, and prior to coming to Monterey she did her research and made sure to learn everything she could about CSUMB’s campus. Upon arriving in Monterey, she was immediately impressed.

“I continue to be very impressed with the students. I see their potential, and I see their passion for their education, and it’s very motivating; the thing I‘m most impressed with is to see the quality and commitment of the students,” said Quiñones. 

Not only has she dedicated time to get to know the students, but she has also made time for events and campus activities. 

“Working on residential life and food services, I’m trying to bring in food trucks to the university and having a more robust residential life for the students after hours,” Quiñones said. 

She is hoping to better CSUMB for staff, faculty and students. 

Quiñones explained, “in the next 100 days, I want to talk to the community and come up with a very specific targeted plan that is based on communication with faculty, staff, and students and to have an action plan to continue to move the institution forward.” 

She is already coming up with both short-term and long-term goals for the campus. Quiñones is thinking about the future of CSUMB and how to better the lives of the institution’s community. 

Quiñones’ experience has helped shape how she sees things and works with others. From the many different positions she’s held she’s grown to the person she is today. 

“When you go through your life, professional or personal, you acquire a lot of different tools, and I’ve been a faculty director of grad programs, chair of a department that was 50 faculty members and 4,000 students. In each of the levels you go through in your professional career you see the university in a different perspective,” Quiñones said. 

Quiñones is considering everyone’s wants and needs and is trying to meet them; she wants CSUMB to be a role model for other CSUs and is set on making that a reality. 

“The number one thing is the caring of the community. I think that’s the most important thing that a president can do is to care for all the members of the institution. The second one is the listening and compassion, that is important for any leader to listen to faculty and students and to understand where they’re coming from,” Quiñones said. 

Since her arrival, Quiñones has been working to ensure that the campus community is safe for everyone. 

“The most challenging thing right now is the communication because sometimes you believe you’re being transparent, but you’re not,” Quiñones said. 

Looking back into the earlier parts of her career, Quiñones spoke on other challenges she has had to overcome.

“When I was earlier in my career, I was in a very prestigious institute, but I was the only minority and one of the few females in the lab. Even though it was my dream job in terms of science, I felt like I needed to do something else,” said Quiñones. “I went to a college in New York, and I told them they had to hire me because it was something I wanted to do, so they hired me, and I was there for 15 years.” 

Although her major was molecular neuroscience, she still set her mind to something else and could be great at that while still doing lab work, but she now gives all of her attention to this position. 

“Part of the beauty in education is you can change your mind about jobs but still be able to use the tools, and it allows you to be more flexible in the future,” Quiñones said. 

Past experiences have provided her with a unique perspective and set of skills she can now use as president of CSUMB. She has shown herself to be dedicated to the students and it will be interesting to see how she shapes the university during her time here.

“You guys are here for your life, and I’m lucky enough to be here to help you fulfill your dreams,” Quiñones said, “so every day that’s my motivation to ensure that I facilitate a student life.”

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