We are excited to welcome Kathy Dominguez as CollegeSpring’s first Southern California Executive Director. We sat down with Kathy to learn about her background, why she is excited about CollegeSpring, and what advice she would give to current undergraduates. You can read Kathy’s bio here.
What about your background has prepared you for this opportunity?
My career focus has been preparing first generation students in urban communities to attend and graduate colleges and universities. I have developed and led numerous programs in K-12 and higher education. In addition, I bring significant experience in fundraising and management to CollegeSpring. I believe that every employment opportunity should be taken as a learning experience, and I’ve worked to build a diverse set of knowledge and skills in a variety of professional educational settings. For example, when I started working in college access, I knew I needed a better understanding of the admissions process if I wanted to help students at the high school level achieve their dreams of attending university. I went to work in admissions at Loyola Marymount University, and the knowledge I gained there enabled me to make a bigger impact on young people when I returned to the K-12 educational setting.
What are you most looking forward to about working with CollegeSpring?
I am excited to grow the Los Angeles program, to make it a well-known and highly visible program in Los Angeles. I want us to be recognized for succeeding in raising the number of low income and first-generation college bound students going to and graduating from college, because that is ultimately my goal. And of course, success in fundraising is closely aligned with that goal; I want supporters and funders in LA to know the program well and to have a high regard for our work. I am also looking forward to fostering a strong group of former mentors who can speak to the impact CollegeSpring has had both in their students’ lives and in their own lives as they continue into careers.
What is your favorite college memory or biggest lesson learned in college?
The biggest lesson I learned in college is the power of engaging with your professors while at university. As a first-generation college student who attended a large school, I initially didn’t understand the importance of building relationships with my professors, and I also didn’t know how to go about doing that. It took me my entire first year to figure out that I could add tremendous value to my education by going to professors’ office hours, attending to the activities they hosted, and getting to know faculty from various departments.
Once I understood the importance of building relationships with professors, my interests expanded, my grades improved, and my sense of community deepened. I now had mentors I could go to for anything–not just for advice about classes. The relationships I built with faculty were critical for me in college; had I not built those relationships, especially as a first generation student, the likelihood of me completing my degree would have been much lower.
What do you enjoy doing while you are not at work?
At work, I enjoy spending time with people, either with staff or out meeting supporters. At home, I enjoy quiet time. I am a gardener, like to read, and enjoy spending time with my family–my two kids, my husband, and my dog. I also love to travel; my favorite trip was visiting Sevilla, Spain during Semana Santa. Sevilla is the heart of Catholicism as we know it, and it was a completely unique experience to be among thousands of people, both dedicated Catholics and interested tourists, for those festivities.
Anything else you would like to share?
I am passionate about education, because education is what allows families to create upward mobility and realize the American Dream. I believe this is true because this is my family’s story. To help students and families achieve their dreams. To remain competitive, we as a country are going to have to make higher education and education in general a priority. CollegeSpring has a critical role to play, both locally and nationally.