A new home for battle tested Old Glory

HOME FROM THE BATTLEFIELD — Lt. Cmdr. Luis Nuñez director of the SWC medical laboratory technician program, presents superintendent Dr. Melinda Nish, an American flag that was flown over Kabul, Afghanistan. The flag is displayed at the National City HEC. / Albert Fulcher 

Written by: Albert Fulcher / Campus Editor

November 28, 2012

As the sun set over the dusty Kabul sky in Afghanistan, the red, white and blue symbol of freedom flew above the U.S. forward operating base. In time-honored military fashion, Lt. Cmdr. Luis A. Nuñez Jr., U.S. Navy Reserves, saluted as the color guard started down the flag, knowing its ultimate destination would be Southwestern College.

Nuñez, program director of the medical laboratory technician program at the National City Higher Education Center (HEC), said it was significant to him that he chose the flag. He said he wanted to bring home a symbol of his yearlong duty in war-torn Afghanistan where he and his comrades established clinical laboratories.

“I chose a flag for the National City Center because the closeness I feel with my team at the college is as strong as the team I served with in Afghanistan,” he said. “It was my way of letting them know that while I was away, they were there with me.”

As Southwestern celebrated its own time-honored Veteran’s Day ceremonies, Nuñez presented his gift to Superintendent Dr. Melinda Nish.

“Receiving a flag from the field is a true honor,” she said. “It is a special symbol of recognition from Lt. Cmdr. Nuñez to all of us at Southwestern. This flag will forever be a symbol of all the contributions of veterans, past and present. On behalf of the entire Southwestern College community, I thank Luis Nuñez for this honor.”

In a smaller but emotional ceremony, Nuñez, along with Nish, brought the flag to its final destination.

Christine Perri, National City HEC dean, said the first thing that comes to her mind when she looks at the flag is that it is a privilege having Nuñez working there.

“Nuñez represents all the things filled with goodness and kindness in the world,” she said. “Through his willingness to protect our liberties and freedom here, I am grateful he is home safely.”

In traditional shadowbox fashion the red, white and blue adorns the National City HEC. A reminder that many past, present and future veterans not only serve the nation, but serve the Southwestern College community with as much honor.




Southwestern College Reception Welcomes Superintendent Dr. Melinda Nish

A reception for Southwestern College’s new superintendent drew a crowd of more than 100 people from the college and local community. Student musicians entertained the party as the college’s culinary students catered the event. Dr. Melinda Nish came to Southwestern on January 2, with more than 20 years of educational experience from Orange Coast College after an extensive search resulting in 34 candidates.

Governing Board President Norma Hernandez said the search began in February 2011 with the establishment of a process that was open and inclusive. She said a 19-member committee consisting of faculty, students, staff, administrators and community members had specific values in searching for a replacement.

Hernandez said specific qualities necessary to take the college to the next level of academic success identified were the ability to be consensus builder and problem solver and a collegial and collaborative leader that is accessible and listens. A supporter of the teaching and learning environment, a strong advocate for college constituents and values partnerships with other segments of education, business and community based organizations also factored into the hiring selection.

“We found a leader with all of these qualities in Dr. Melinda Nish,” said Hernandez.

Nish said she had never encountered such a warm welcome as she has in the college and its community.

“It truly is a very special place and I am honored to have become a member,” she said. “Indeed I hope an adopted daughter of Southwestern College and the South Bay community.”

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