By Hugo Villar, Ph.D.
Dean of UC San Diego Extension
[4 minute read time]
With its ups and downs, driven in part by the pandemic, 2021 was a unique year. Yet with all its challenges, UC San Diego Extension continued to progress in our mission to serve a global community of learners. We aim to leave no one behind, so we manage and develop programs that support people of all ages, backgrounds and interests. Please take a moment to celebrate the resilience of our community and acknowledge some highlights and progress made during a complex time for us all.
TOP 20 HIGHLIGHTS OF 2021
1. Our work starts early in life. UCSD Extension's accredited Lactation programs have provided career options to look after the health and well-being of new mothers and their newborns. In fact, in at least one case, the training a student received saved a life.
2. When the pandemic hit full force, Extension's Education programs collaborated with the California Collective for Educational Excellence, a state agency that advises and assists school districts, to provide hundreds of practical and timely education resources and free training for teachers who had never dealt with teaching online.
3. The Center for Research + Evaluation has been pivotal in connecting Extension to the community by providing data analysis for critically-important Voice of San Diego stories, with the most recent report examining the gaps in access to education for lower-income families (along with noting which schools are performing well despite limited resources).
4 & 5. High school students often face significant obstacles deciding on a future path, especially when applying to a college or selecting a major. We've helped enrich and expand those opportunities by providing students with the chance to learn in an active research environment. For the eager, and in many ways, exceptional high-school student, it can be transformational.
6. Sally Ride Science turned 20 this year. Founded by America's first woman in space, Sally Ride, the program has been pivotal in providing STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) education to thousands of teachers and pre-college students annually.
7. A curious University of California mom wrote a book about applying to UC schools after pursuing her certificate in College Counseling to help kids and their parents better understand UC requirements and improve chances for admission.
8. We worked to make our economy resilient. The Lean Six Sigma program helps run effective organizations of all kinds, but more importantly, it creates a community of like-minded individuals facing the challenges of adapting their organizations to new times.
9. Once we leave college, our skills and knowledge need regular updates due to our fast-paced, ever-changing world. However, there is a cost to keeping those skills up-to-date. In 2019, we partnered with San Diego Workforce Partnership on a new and innovative income share agreement, and in 2021 that program provided us with some remarkable success stories.
10, 11, 12 & 13. We continue to partner with philanthropists and social organizations to expand our scholarship programs and assist our students in achieving their goals. In 2021, we offered two new scholarships for the brewing and human resource management certificate programs and partnered with a local organization to help educate entrepreneurs.
14. Many of our programs were rapidly adapted for online delivery during the pandemic, providing new learning opportunities for our Occupational Safety and Health and other programs traditionally held in-person, and continued to support the needs of those seeking trustworthy credentials despite the challenges.
15. We shared the stories of some exceptional individuals like copy editor Sarah Lower and UC San Diego alum and engineer Abhilasha Devaraj and the transformations they've achieved in their careers with just a little support from our programs.
16. And because we understand that the need to stay active and connected to others is a lifetime practice, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute continued unabated even throughout the pandemic.
17 & 18. During this year, as in years past, we never stopped working to bring a brighter future for our community. New opportunities emerged with the completion of the Blue Line Trolley extension, connecting the UC San Diego campus and downtown. And within a few blocks of two new trolley stations, we broke ground on a new facility at 8980 Villa La Jolla Drive, which will be the future home for Extension.
19. We put the finishing touches on our newest facility, UC San Diego Park & Market, which is quickly living up to its promise of being a transformational space for various non-profits like Digital Gym and other organizations while also creating an active cultural life for us all to experience and enjoy.
20. And last but not least, we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the leadership transition at Extension. Mary Walshok, the exceptional leader who shaped this institution for the last 45 years, decided to focus her boundless energy and passion on ensuring that UC San Diego Park & Market lives to its promise to serve our local and global communities.
We are proud to say we have remained steadfast in our commitment to bring the University and our global community even closer by identifying areas of need at all stages in life and making our contribution to try to address them. At the gates of a New Year, we invite our community partners, employers and cultural organizations to participate in a dialog to create an even better future for us all.
Did you accomplish any big goals in 2021? Tell us about it in the comments!