By Elizabeth Vega
For his contributions to El Paso Community College and the El Paso community, President Dr. William Serrata was selected as an Ascend Fellow, a values-based leadership program part of the Aspen Institute, where diverse leaders help build economic security, educational success, health and well-being for low income families through ideas and a collaborative effort.
“My Fellowship is totally a reflection of the college,” Serrata said.
“I am fortunate to work at EPCC, so I think that being selected as one of the Aspen Ascend Fellows is
a reflection of the great work that EPCC has done for well over a decade.”
Dr. William Serrata was one of 21 applicants chosen as an Aspen Fellow.
The college was also nominated for the Aspen Prize, an award given to community colleges for its impact on student success.
Though EPCC was a finalist for the biannual award, the Aspen Award went to Santa Fe College in Gainesville,FL.
Only 21 applicants are selected as Ascend Fellows, ranging from CEOs of businesses to college presidents.
The release of the 2015 Fellows winners was March 9. According to the Ascend Aspen Institute
website, Serrata has played a key-role in increasing student retention, dual credit enrollment and
graduation rates on first generation and Hispanic populations at EPCC.
He has also helped to try and establish a “college going” culture amongst the El Paso youth.
Serrata said the Aspen Institute looks at how people nominated work with a multigenerational
approach and a two generational approach to increase the quality of life in the region.
He said EPCC’s two-generational approach began when the college “adopted” area elementary schools.
“When you speak to parental involvement specialists at the school districts, they will tell you that 100 percent of parents participate with their children in elementary school,” Serrata said.
“By the time they [children] get to middle school, it’s 50 percent [parental involvement] and by the time they get to high school they’re lucky if they have 15-20 percent of parents participating.
“So if we know that 100 percent of parents are participating in elementary, then that’s when we should be laying the seed of going to college and encouraging a college-going culture.”
Serrata said he was honored to be recognized.
“There are wonderful opportunities that are bestowed upon me as a representative of the college and I always acknowledge that,” he said. “This really is much more about the college than anything else, and about our region and what we’re trying to accomplish.”