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On March 13, 2021, Norco College celebrated 30 Years of Transformation. To commemorate our 30 years, the twelve-month celebration highlighted our transformation with the following message from President Monica Green, historical archives, stories, videos and timelines.
It is hard to believe that Norco College opened its doors in 1991, with approximately 500 students enrolled. Today, the College is home to over 16,000 students, and counting. Riverside Community College leaders first began to dream about a branch campus in the area and on June 4, 1985, that dream was realized when more than 141 acres of U.S. government-owned land—the site that would become Norco College—were acquired by RCCD for one dollar to build a satellite campus. Since the beginning, student success, transformation, and excellence has been the cornerstone of everything we do. Our classified professionals, faculty, and leadership continue to encourage an inclusive environment, full off opportunities, access, and resources for our students. Thank you to our amazing community, partners, students, and alumni for always supporting Norco College. You make it possible to continue providing extra resources through your donations. In honor of our anniversary, we are offering the opportunity to contribute $30 dollars in honor of 30-years towards the
Silver Scholarship Fund. The Silver Scholarship Fund allows for one eligible student a year to receive up to $1,000 for tuition and books. I invite you to take a moment and explore the webpage as the College celebrates the past, present, and future throughout March 2022.
Monica Green, Ed.D.President, Norco College
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Veterans Resource Center Project Name: Veterans Resource Center Project Type: New Construction Occupy Date: Fall 2021
Looking ahead, Norco College will continue to challenge and prepare students to meet the changing needs of business and industry.
Norco College Facilities Master Plan (FMP) - February 2020
Norco College 2030 Educational Master Plan (EMP)
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Norco College, one of three colleges in the Riverside Community College District, became the 112th and newest California Community College on January 29, 2010, when it was granted initial accreditation. Its history dates at least to the 1970s, when college classes were first regularly taught in the Norco-Corona area under the auspices of RCCD, and when Riverside Community College leaders first began to dream about a branch campus in the area. In many ways, however, its history is even older than that.The land on which the College now stands was once home to semi-nomadic bands of Tongva Indians, some of whom built villages along the nearby Santa Ana River and may have gathered roots and nuts where the campus stands today. They must have come to the area for the resources that mattered most to desert people a thousand years ago: water, game, and edible plants. These were the people who greeted (and resisted) the Spanish, and whose land became part of the nearly 18,000-acre Rancho La Sierra (Sepulveda) in 1846, where their descendants probably worked for generations. For the next 50 years, through a succession of owners, this was open range, pasture land for the Rancho cattle and sheep.In 1908, eight years before Riverside Junior College was founded, most of the Rancho was bought for a half million dollars by James W. Long, who formed the Orange Heights Water Company and began to subdivide it into small fruit and vegetable farms. In 1921, the 15-squaremile area that includes the site of the present-day campus was acquired by Rex Clark, who named it “Norco,” after his North Corona Land Company.Like the Native Americans and Rancho owners before him, Clark was a dreamer. In 1923, according to Norco city historian Bill Wilkman, he placed an ad in the Los Angeles Times with the headline, “Norco, the Vale of Dreams Comes True.” In Jeffersonian fashion, he envisioned a place where urbanites could find refuge from civilization as small farmers. He laid out the streets of the city, ensuring that travel on horseback would be as easy for citizens as travel by car—a feature of “Horsetown U.S.A.” preserved even today. But three years later, he was distracted from realizing some of his dreams when he discovered a hot mineral spring about a mile from where the campus now stands. So he began to dream a new dream, and built a 700-acre “resort supreme” that included a 250,000-squarefoot hotel, 60-acre lake, golf course, air field, and Olympic-sized pool. The resort opened in 1929 (shortly before the stock market crash) and was for a brief period a playground for film stars and famous athletes, before the economic downturn forced its closure in 1933. A day after the Pearl Harbor attack, it was bought by the U. S. Navy for use as a hospital.Fifty years after the resort supreme closed, another visionary saw a new use for land that had once been the Tongva’s. In 1983, Wilfred Airey led his Riverside Community College Board of Trustees colleagues on a tour of the U.S. Navy property, part of which was still being used as a “Fleet Analysis Center.” They were looking for a potential site for a satellite campus to serve the growing populations of Corona, Norco, Eastvale, and western Riverside. On June 4, 1985, more than 141 acres were acquired for a dollar from the General Services Administration to build the College.A December 1986 Los Angeles Times article describes Riverside Community College administrator and head planner Mike Maas standing on the newly acquired land and seeing “lecture halls, ball fields, and business students.” He had, in other words, a new dream. The campus was expected to open in 1989, but funding and construction delays pushed the date to 1991. On March 13 of that year, two classrooms in the Student Services and Little Theatre buildings were ready for students, and 15 or so short-term classes in economics, philosophy, public speaking, and a handful of other traditional academic disciplines were held on campus that spring semester. (Approximately 100 other classes that began in January were taught in Norco area high schools and a church, as they had been for years.) The formal opening of the full campus (with two more classrooms, Science and Technology and Humanities) took place in fall 1991— coinciding with the 75th anniversary of Riverside City College.The early years of Riverside Community College-Norco Campus were exciting ones. Funding constraints in the early 1990s impeded growth, but the campus enrolled over 3,000 students its first year and 5,000 within several years after that. (The head count for Fall 2013 at census was 9,819.) Two new buildings were completed in 1995, the aptly named Wilfred J. Airey Library and an Applied Technology Building. The dozen or so full-time faculty from that early period (seven of whom still teach at the College) considered themselves pioneers at an institution they felt they could help shape. There were so few of them that they could fit into a single semi-circular booth when they went to lunch together at a Hamner Avenue restaurant, as they sometimes did. Students (several of whom went on to become professors at the College) shared in the excitement of being at a new campus that was always part construction zone. No one seemed to mind much the occasional attacks by swarms of flies (dubbed the Norco air force) from the nearby dairy farms. Those farms have since mostly given way to subdivisions, some of whose residents attend the College today.From the beginning, Norco had been envisioned as an institution that would emphasize programs in technology, a counterpart to its sister campus Moreno Valley’s focus on the health care fields. Among its first structures were the Science and Technology Building, the Applied Technology Building, and the Center for Applied Competitive Technologies. In 2009, these buildings were supplemented with the Industrial Technology Building. CTE programs at Norco today with technology emphasis include Logistic Management, Commercial Music Performance, Engineering Technology, Digital Electronics, Game Design, Game Programming, and Game Audio. Several of these programs (e.g., Simulation and Gaming, Commercial Music Performance, Engineering Technology, and Supply Chain Technology) flourish in part because of support from a series of HSI grants totaling nearly 15 million dollars.Over the past 22 years, the College has also developed a strong reputation for its programs in more traditional academic areas. In 2013, 238 students graduated with A.A. degrees in Social and Behavioral Sciences, 137 in Math and Science, 84 in Humanities, Philosophy, and the Arts, 68 in Administration and Information Systems, and 38 in Communication, Media, and Languages. New Associate Degrees for Transfer are being added. All Norco College students have benefited in recent years by the opening of additional buildings: the West End Quadrangle classrooms (in 2007), the Center for Student Success (in 2010), and the Network Operations Center (in 2013). Other buildings have been refurbished or repurposed with the help of Measure C funds. A recently completed soccer complex with artificial turf realizes Maas’s dream of “lecture halls, ball fields, and business students.”Old dreams—by people like Maas, Airey, Clark, and (one must imagine) the Tongva whose names have not come down to us—give way to new ones. Some of these newer dreams are captured in the strategic plans and facilities master plans that envision Norco College growth five, ten, and twenty years from now, and if realized, will result in a campus unrecognizable to those who only saw it in 1991. But most of these new dreams are dreamed every day by students who enroll at the College—by the young woman who wants to teach elementary school, the young man who sees himself helping to create computer games, the returning student who always wanted to learn Spanish or study art. Norco remains a vale of realizable dreams.
Norco College staff put together a historical perspective about the college through photographs, newspaper articles, and special events memorabilia. See newsletters below.
To commemorate our 30-years of transformation, we are inviting the college community to give $30 towards our Silver Scholarship, which supports one eligible student a year to receive up to $1,000 for tuition and books.
As community college employees, we know first-hand that many of our students face a myriad of challenges as they work towards their educational goals. Listen to alumni, Sarah Estrada share her story about how the Silver Scholarship made her dreams possible. Her story is a perfect example of how your contributions make a BIG impact in students’ lives. Like Sarah, earning a scholarship gives students the confidence they need finish their education strong.
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The Riverside Community College District Chancellor and Board of Trustees are honored to announce Ruben Aguilar as RCCD's 64th Alumnus of the Year. The award was created in 1959 with a mission of recognizing the achievements of alumni who have made a difference in their community and exemplified what it means to be exceptional in a field of work.
As a United States veteran and purple heart recipient, Aguilar has sacrificed much. He enrolled at Norco College (NC) in 2009 after serving in the military. He was a pioneer in starting the Veterans Resource Center at Norco College and helped shape what it is today. During his time at NC, Aguilar endured many obstacles but he did not give up even when he wanted to throw in the towel. Instead, he went on to earn a master's degree in Kinesiology from California Baptist University. Today, he has come full circle and is now a full-time Kinesiology professor at his alma mater, Norco College. In his spare time, Aguilar works out at his CrossFit gym, where he is the co-owner. He also volunteers his time to his non-profit organization, A-1 Skyraider, based in Rubidoux, where he grew up. The non-profit focuses on helping youth stay away from gangs and violence. He is passionate about paying it forward and serves as a role model for those around him.
“Ruben Aguilar exemplifies why the RCCD Alumnus of the Year award was created, said RCCD Chancellor, Wolde-ab Isaac. “He joins a long list of individuals who have used their knowledge, personal skillset and life's purpose to impact others."
Watch the video here and add your congratulations to Ruben Aguilar on RCCD's social media pages:
Jocelyn Yow, a San Jose native, moved to Malaysia at a young age and graduated from high school before her return to the United States.
In 2011, Jocelyn and her family settled in Eastvale. She quickly enrolled at Norco College and became the youngest serving Student Body President. She also joined the Honors Program and became a member of Alpha Gamma Sigma.
Jocelyn earned her associate degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences from Norco College in 2014, and transferred to the University of California, Berkeley, where she obtained her bachelor's degree.
She has served as a district representative for California State Senate and for the United States House of Representatives, where she worked tirelessly to help seniors, families, small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and children to access valuable government services.
Jocelyn grew up in a working-class family, where she learned the value and importance of giving back. In fact, the Yow family established a scholarship to provide financial support for high achieving Norco College students with financial need. Yow credits part of her success to Norco College and wanted to establish a scholarship that would highlight her and her families deep commitment to community service and to assist students in need.
She was recently elected to the Eastvale City Council and is currently pursuing a master's degree in government at Harvard Extension.
Yow is currently the policy manager for IGNITE, a national nonprofit to elect more women to positions of power, and has previously worked as a district representative in the California State Senate and an aide for the U.S. House of Representatives.
“I am honored and grateful for the opportunity to serve as the mayor of Eastvale, the city I am proud to call home. Being a new mom to a six-month-old further fuels my passion to serve my community,” Yow said. “Local government makes decisions that affect our daily lives and is where we can directly see democracy in action. I am serving the city to ensure a better future for my son and the next generation of Eastvale residents.”
Jefferson Tiangco was born and raised in the Philippines and pursued his education as an accountant in his country. In 2003, he and his family moved to the US to pursue new opportunities.
Jefferson recalls the culture shock when he arrived in the US and found the language barrier to be intimidating. Not only were the English language and culture challenging, he also faced financial struggles not having a permanent home or vehicle for several years. However, his willingness and determination to succeed were much greater than the challenges. He knew that education would assist him, so he enrolled at Norco College in fall 2003. He set high goals, which began with just four college courses.
Jefferson continued his education and graduated from Norco College in 2005. He transferred to California State University, Fullerton, and in 2008 he graduated summa cum laude with a baccalaureate degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting and a minor in Spanish.
He began working for Norco College shortly after graduation as an instructional support specialist and credits Norco College for preparing him with not only his education, but also his work experience. Tiangco recalls several significant accomplishments while at Norco College: he developed the College website after accreditation, started social media accounts, technology training, and developed class schedules, and worked on a variety of projects.
A couple of years later, Jefferson decided to continue his education and went back to Cal State Fullerton. In 2014, he earned a master’s degree in Education with a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) emphasis. He then took on part-time teaching positions as an ESL instructor at Fullerton College and Norco College – all while working full time. His passion and talent for teaching grew so strong that he pursued and earned a full-time teaching position at Fullerton College.
Ryan Cortez headed to college with the idea of studying history and becoming a teacher. But his innate interest in business—shaped by years of working in his family’s firm, Cortez Jewelers—changed his mind.
Ryan chose Norco College for the same reason many of his classmates did: the campus was close to home. It is a decision that he never regretted. Interactions with professors such as Arend Flick taught him to think critically, to examine issues from all sides before reaching a decision or group consensus. A talented student, Ryan made the Dean’s List at Norco College and earned dual associate of arts degrees before transferring to California Baptist University to earn his bachelor’s of science in Business Administration. His stellar academic performance as an undergraduate set the stage for Ryan to enter the MBA program at CBU, and in May 2013 he walked across the stage to receive his master’s degree.
Ryan’s education and experience led to a job as a business retention specialist with the city of Corona—his employer of choice. Last year, he was promoted to economic development specialist and now spends his days managing the business retention program, business expansion projects, and performing demographic data analysis. He is frequently out in the community, working closely with business owners to improve local businesses’ capabilities and maintain local job opportunities. He also works closely with Norco College to ensure that career technical programs align with industry needs. Ryan credits and thanks his parents, his girlfriend (a Norco College alum), and the Corona city manager and city council for their support and mentoring.
College was a family affair for Rachel Spiegel, Norco College’s 2015 Young Alumna. She attended college with three siblings. It was a time of mutual support and encouragement, with a healthy dose of competition to keep things interesting.
“We always competed to see who could get the best grade in a class,” Rachel said. “We tried to take classes together or similar classes at Norco.”
School didn’t always generate such good memories, she admits. Her high school career was unimpressive; she only managed to eke out a 1.8 GPA.
Norco College’s first president, Brenda Davis, drove Rachel to try harder, to honor her own potential.
“Dr. Davis pushed me, all of us really, to achieve our goals. I remember I was struggling when I first came to Norco College,” Rachel said. “Brenda called me into her office and said, ‘Rachel, you can do better; you have the drive to do better.’ It kind of put me in my shoes and helped me focus.”
Rachel’s academic awakening was fueled by another mentor, too, kinesiology instructor Jim Winn.
“It really helped to follow his guidance,” Rachel said, adding that she still works with Winn through her volunteer service at The SPORT Clinic in Riverside.
Rachel capped her studies at Norco College with two associate degrees before going on to earn a bachelor’s degree in health care management. She then paired full-time work with part-time study, earning a master’s degree in Human Resources Management. Currently, she is pursuing her Ph.D. in Business Administration, Human Resources Management from Walden University.
Today, Rachel Spiegel manages a busy chiropractic corporation in Corona, using the knowledge and many of the skills she first acquired at Norco College.
Balancing work, school, and her volunteer commitments at The SPORT Clinic and Congregation Beth Shalom present daily challenges.
“I get my motivation from my students and my employees,” she said. “Even my four-year-old nephew gives me small comments of congratulations. He’ll say ‘I’m glad you’re going to school,’ which always helps guide the way.”
Her boss, Anthony Pirritano, also serves as an inspiration. His encouragement never fails to lift Rachel’s spirit.
Rachel’s vision for the future is shaped by past challenges she overcame and present issues that she’s eager to address.
“Norco College was a stepping stone on my career path,” Rachel said. “Originally I intended to go into sports medicine. But then, I switched it up.”
Again, it was real life that provided the catalyst.
“I’ve gone from the bottom as a part-time employee to becoming general manager,” Rachel said. “I see how employees are treated and how you can help improve work lives and programs within your business.”
Eventually, Rachel hopes to act as a consultant to small businesses, but she is content with her still-evolving role with the chiropractic corporation.
“We are expanding the business, looking to do integrated medicine and possibly adding more doctors in multiple facilities,” she said. “I know my HR degrees will help immensely.”
Wherever the next years lead, Rachel’s path will always be grounded in Corona and at Norco College. Her mother is a longtime elected official in the city; her father serves as executive director of the Corona Chamber of Commerce; her siblings are successful Norco College alumni.
“Growing up in Corona, it’s been Norco College all the time for my family,” Rachel said. “I don’t see that changing.”
US Naval War College student Jonathan Trdan-Schmidt has been selected as Norco College’s 2014 Young Alumnus. A 2003 graduate of Norco College, Trdan-Schmidt, earned an associate of arts degree before transferring to Cal Poly Pomona where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering in 2009. In 2011, he attended US Naval Post Graduate School in System Engineering, earning the Meyers Award for Academic Excellence.
Jonathan works as a Force Development Assessment Operational Analyst for the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Norco. He authored a simulator/calibrator program and is the lead designer for the aircraft development team. He also serves in the US Naval Reserve.
“Jonathan Schmidt’s story is a classic student success story for Norco College,” said college president Dr. Paul Parnell. “A student shows up for classes needing encouragement, confidence and high quality, caring instruction. As a result of receiving those essential foundation skills they go on to advanced degrees and careers. We wish him the best in his career and academic pursuits and also congratulate him on his Young Alumnus Award."
After arriving at Norco College, Omar Gonzalez quickly realized that “a sense of community” was just as important on a college campus as it was in the outside world. He also discovered that he had an affinity, some might say a calling, for helping others--particularly individuals less fortunate than himself. Soon after arriving on campus, Omar jumped into the role of student government leader. His extensive involvement in activities and day-to-day student life and issues is still remembered by College administrators, faculty and staff. A NC dean says that Omar “became part of the fabric of Norco College.” Excelling in student government and in the classroom, Omar secured acceptance to UC Davis in 2005. There, he graduated with a bachelor of science degree in Chicano Studies and Political Science. Back here at home, he now serves as director of Public Policy and Prevention for Reach Out, a non-profit organization that strives to address critical issues facing today’s youth in the western Inland Empire.
As director, Omar oversees two community coalitions: Partners for Innovative Communities and the Fontana Community Coalition. These groups focus on building healthy, safe and vibrant communities. Much of Omar’s daily work is with school districts, where he helps establish curricula and programs to battle bullying and substance abuse, and oversees work that studies the codependency between alcohol abuse and violence. Ask where he thinks the future leads, Norco College’s Young Alumnus exhibits a contented ignorance, other than allowing that his life will always involve building up communities. “I’ve always cared,” Omar said. “I’m just trying to make a difference.”
Naushad Huda, CEO and Founder of XTOPOLY, attended Norco College in the fall of 1996, before transferring to UC Berkeley in 1999. A born entrepreneur, Naushad is focused on everything mobile. He bootstrapped his start-up mobile company, XTOPOLY, during his final year at Whittier Law School. Under his leadership, XTOPOLY has become a multi-award winning mobile interactive agency focusing on the fusion of creativity, innovation and technology.
Naushad is regarded as a leader in the mobile space, having spearheaded triple digit growth of his full-service mobile interactive agency in just a few short years. His experience is in creating integrated mobile strategies and tactics that extend brand stories through holistic marketing campaigns. XTOPOLY solutions are in place at small start-ups as well as big industry names such as Google/AdMob, Yamaha, Paramount Studios, Cars.com, and T-Mobile. Naushad holds a bachelor’s degree in English from UC Berkeley, and received his J.D. from Whittier Law School.
On June 5, 1985, 141 acres were acquired for a dollar from the General Services Administration to build Norco College.
“Norco Pioneers” were the first Norco College students who took classes at the Church of the Rock in Norco.
On March 13, Norco College grand opening and classes begin under the leadership of Marie Pepicello, Provost.
On May 13, Norco College held a reception for its first graduating class of approximately 62 students.
Brenda Davis, Ph.D. was selected as Norco College Provost from 1993-2006 & then transitioned to the President title from 2006-2011, making her the first president of NC.
The Associated Students of Norco College coordinated the first community Harvest Festival
Norco College had a mounted patrol – Officer Chad Price and his partner “Captain.”
Norco College reached the milestone of 5,000 students attending in the fall semester.
Former student, Esmoreit Koetsier, donated a sculpture “Injection” to Norco College. It was installed on June 2, 2002 in front of the Applied Technology building.
Brenda Davis, Ph.D. was officially appointed as the first President of Norco College by the RCCD Board of Trustees. See 1993.
John F. Kennedy (JFK) Middle College High School opened on Norco College grounds.
Norco College became the 112th California community college. On October 6, the college opened its Center for Student Success.
Norco College Choir performed at the Ihlombe South African Choral Festival.
Legendary musician, Stevie Wonder performed and spoke to approximately 200 students in the Little Theater for an event titled “A Conversation With Stevie Wonder: Overcoming Challenges to Achieve the Dream.”
First Mustang athletic teams, Men’s and Women’s Soccer, had a successful season.
Dr. Paul Parnell was selected as the second Norco College President from 2012-2016.
Norco College Music Students produced and released the first CD.
The Brenda and William Davis Center for Student Success Building was dedicated to the family.
Grand Opening of the Norco College Operations Center
Military Times Announces Norco College as one of the 140 Best for Vets
Summer Advantage receives the prestigious 2015 Bellwether Award
Norco College Receives $12.8 Million Career Pathways Trust Grant, largest competitive grant supporting high school career education programs.
Norco College installed Doosan Fuel Cell to mitigate energy costs and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Norco College Celebrated 25 Years of Excellence, opened the 1991 time capsule, and buried a new time capsule.
Bryan Reece, Ph.D. selected as Norco College’s Third President
Norco College Music Students Teamed Up with Feeding America to host Benefit Concert
NC selected to participate in the California Guided Pathways Project and adopted the following four schools model:
Norco College collaborated with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to offer the Prison Education Program at California Rehabilitation Center, a medium security state prison in Norco.
Norco College expanded the Dual Enrollment program that helps address the low college-going rate in the area, college access, and equity among students.
$2 million dollar proposal to fund the new Veterans Resource Center at Norco College was approved and unveiled project site.
Norco College developed the Military Articulation Platform (MAP)—a cloud-based system that allows evaluators and faculty to match military training with college courses and give veterans the college credit they deserve.
Inaugural Dinner with the President Established
NC Received Support to Fund a New Childcare Center and Workforce Development Center
Norco College is a great college to work for by The Chronicle of Higher Education
Student Unity Zone was established
E-Sports Club was established
Norco College Women cross-country team was established
Norco College Men’s cross-country team was established
Norco College, together with the RCCD Foundation, established the Student Life Emergency fund to assist students in need of help with food and housing insecurities, childcare assistance, and other basic needs.
Summer Advantage + Promise Program established
Student Engagement Center was established
Monica Green, Ed.D. was selected as Norco College's Fourth President
COVID-19 virus forced schools to transition online on March 16 and begin remote learning
Veterans Resource Center launched virtual groundbreaking through commemorative video
Norco College Established a Racial Justice Taskforce following the State Chancellor’s Call to Action
NC Hosted First Giving Week and raised over $30,000 for the Student Life Emergency Fund
The first twenty-eight incarcerated students graduated from the Norco College Prison Education Program
Norco College and The Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering (BCOE) at UC Riverside signed a memorandum of understanding that smooths the pathway for transfer students in engineering.
Norco College earned a successful Accreditation site visit with a standing ovation
Spring semester began, mostly remotely with hybrid classes.
NC 30 Years of Transformation Celebration