January 24, 2024

Mesa College's Ethnic Studies Program Awarded by California Community Colleges as an Exemplary Program

Mesa College’s Ethnic Studies Faculty Council, comprised of faculty from multiple disciplines, declared a model for how institutional stakeholders can work in collaboration to advance Ethnic Studies.

By Jennifer N. Kearns and Dr. Candace Katungi

Mesa College's Ethnic Studies Program Awarded by  California Community Colleges


Dr. Candace Katungi,

Manuel Valez,


SAN DIEGO, CA –  At the January 22nd, 2024 meeting of the California Community Colleges Board of Governors, the San Diego Mesa College Ethnic Studies Faculty Council was awarded the prestigious Exemplary Program Award.

The Exemplary Program Award was created in 1991 by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors created the Exemplary Program Award in order to recognize outstanding community college programs. The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges sets a theme for each year and selects the winners. For 2023-2024, the theme was “Excellence in Promotion and Advancement of Ethnic Studies.” Out of the California Community College system’s sprawling 116 campuses and over 1.8 million students, the San Diego Mesa College Ethnic Studies Faculty Council (MC-ESFC) was one of four honorees this year.


“San Diego Mesa College’s commitment to Ethnic Studies was codified in the 1970’s with the establishment of our Chicano and Black Studies programs,” stated Dr. Ashanti Hands, President. “Our Ethnic Studies Faculty Council has taken courageous and necessary strides to strengthen, deepen and expand our offerings, which now includes Asian Pacific Islander Studies, in ways that allow marginalized students to see and be seen through programs and curriculum. Our college takes great pride in receiving this well-deserved distinction that honors the accomplishments and contributions of our dedicated faculty.”

The Mesa College Ethnic Studies Faculty Council (MC-ESFC) began as a taskforce in Fall 2020, charged with protecting and planning for the future of Ethnic Studies. It now continues as a permanent body and “serves as a representative voice and resource for the establishment and evolution of Ethnic Studies departments and programs at Mesa College and the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD).”  The MC-ESFC is led by faculty discipline experts in the academic fields of Ethnic Studies (Black Studies, Chicana and Chicano Studies, and Asian American and Pacific Islander Studies.) The MC-ESFC's mission is to guide and engage in efforts to advance the academic discipline of Ethnic Studies. The members are Dr. Candace Katungi (chair) and Dr. Thekima Mayasa from Black Studies, Dr. César López (founding chair), Professor Manuel Velez, Professor Jennifer Moreno, and Professor Alessandra Moctezuma from Chicana and Chicano Studies, and Professor Hai Ly Tran from Asian American and Pacific Islander Studies. Mesa’s campus Articulation Officer, Juliette Parker is another expert leader, along with Dr. Gloria Kim, a discipline expert in Asian American and Pacific Islander History. 

In recognizing the MC-ESFC, the Board of Governors stated, “[The MC-ESFC] is a model for how institutional stakeholders can work in collaboration to advance Ethnic Studies.” The program was also recognized for its work beyond the immediate realm of Mesa and San Diego Community College District. MC-ESFC collaborated with local and statewide curriculum committees to advance Ethnic Studies and support programs. “The faculty and ethnic studies programs being honored have worked as trailblazers and advocates, extending the impact beyond their classroom to enrich and empower communities across California,” said Cheryl Aschenbach, president of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges.

To learn more about Mesa’s incredible Ethnic Studies programs, you can visit the Chicana/o Studies Program webpagethe Black Studies Program webpage and our Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI) programs.


About San Diego Mesa College

San Diego Mesa College is a fully accredited, comprehensive community college committed to access, success, and equity. We honor those commitments as a diverse community of students, faculty, professional staff, and administrators who collaborate to foster scholarship, leadership, innovation, and excellence in an inclusive learning environment. By promoting student learning and achievement that leads to degrees and certificates, transfer, workforce training, and lifelong learning, we empower our students to reach their educational goals and shape their future.  Among the largest community colleges in California, Mesa College serves 30,000 students per year, 25% of whom are full-time. Mesa offers nearly 200 associate degree and certificate programs and is one of 15 California community colleges offering a four-year baccalaureate degree. Mesa ranks as San Diego’s top transfer institution, is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution and a Military Friendly School, serving more than 3,500 veterans and their families.

Tags: Ethnic Studies, Equity and Excellence, Press Release