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New dean sets goals

Linh Nguyen

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Lynn Nguyen / TIMES STAFF                                                                 Interim Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences Jesus Covarrubias works in his office on Sept. 18.


Jesus Covarrubias is now the new dean of Humanities and Social Science Division at San Jose City College.

His father dropped out in sixth grade, and his mother in eighth. Covarrubias and his three siblings are the first generation in his family to make it to graduate school.

You know, being a first generation student, you don’t have a family member you can turn to ask questions about school,” Covarrubias said. “Sometimes you have to figure out things on your own.”

He said he always felt a calling to help students, especially those who historically have not always had access to opportunities.

“When I was growing up, I went to a school where the expectations were often lowered,” Covarrubias said. “I don’t consider myself a genius or anything. I was able to succeed academically with teachers, raising the expectations for me and providing support along the way.”

After receiving Bachelor of Arts degrees in Chicano Studies and Music, and a minor in Education at University of California, Berkeley, he began teaching at an elementary school. Three years later, he received a master’s degree in Education and a teaching credential from Stanford University.

He began teaching Ethnic Studies and Mexican American Studies at San Jose City College in 1997.

“His class was an eye opener to me,” said Klayre Guzman, 20, chemistry major. “It taught me a lot about my own Mexican background history that I did not know before.”

In 2008 he received an “Outstanding Faculty Adviser” award for his work as an advisor at M.E.Ch.A, a student organization for Hispanic students.

One of Covarrubias’ former students, Juan Gamboa, said, “I remember the first day of class, he could start up by telling his personal stories about he growing up in Silicon Valley going from a sense of hopelessness to a sense of hopefulness.”

Gamboa is a Chicanos Studies instructor at SJCC. He regularly visits his professor who is now his colleague.

“He is still my mentor,” Gamboa said. “A real teacher doesn’t stop being a teacher at the end of the semester. A real teacher can be a mentor not only inside but outside of the class.”

When not behind the desk working in his office, you can find Covarrubias singing and playing music at local bars. He is well known in the community as a talented musician.

He continues to pursue his passion for music with his current band, The Niteliters. He said he has directed the music for several musicals, including Victor Villaseñor’s “Rain of Gold.”

“In the academic world, you use a lot of analytical and critical skills,” Covarrubias said. “Music is for the creative side of my brain.”

After the retirement of Patrick Gester, the former dean of Humanities and Social Science Division in July, Covarrubias applied for the interim dean position and was accepted. His position is effective from Aug. 21 to the end of the semester.

“As an interim dean, I have been taken out of the classrooms,” Covarrubias said. “I have a mixed feeling about this because I really love the classes, but I also feel like I can contribute another way to help out students. … I can support the faculty in the division and help the faculty serve the students better in terms of accessing to classes and so forth.”

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New dean sets goals