San Jacinto College one of top 10 community colleges in the nation

04.02.2019 | By Amanda Fenwick

PASADENA, Texas — The Aspen Institute for Community College Excellence today named San Jacinto College as one of the top 10 community colleges in the nation. The announcement was made today at a luncheon in Washington, D.C.

“I am honored and humbled to accept this award on behalf of the entire San Jacinto College community,” said Chancellor Dr. Brenda Hellyer. “This award reflects the achievements and commitment of our faculty, staff, and administration who are focused on helping our diverse student population  pursue and accomplish their goals. As a College, we hold ourselves to the ultimate measure of student success, and being recognized as one of the top 10 community colleges in the nation is proof that our mission to provide innovative, accessible education is being accomplished.”

Launched in 2011, the $1 million Aspen Prize is awarded every two years to a community college achieving high marks in student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings for graduates, and access and success for minority and low-income students. From the more than 1,100 community colleges nationwide, San Jacinto College was first selected among the top 150 last spring. A selection committee then narrowed down those institutions to the top 10, and today named two Aspen Prize winners and three Rising Star recipients. San Jacinto College was a Rising Star Award recipient in 2017, placing the College among the nation’s top 5 community colleges.

“San Jacinto College offers strong workforce programs that are directly aligned to employer needs and job opportunities in the region—especially in health care, maritime, and petrochemical industries,” said Joshua Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program. “The college has also made significant investments in guided pathways reforms, ensuring that students receive strong, consistent advising to help them stay on track to completion."

Over the last 10 years, San Jacinto College has increased the number of certificates and associate degrees awarded by 169 percent. Last academic year, 7,019 students earned a certificate or degree from San Jacinto College. This increase is due to a laser focus on student success and the support students receive along their paths from when they first arrive at San Jacinto College through graduation. The College concentrates its efforts on initiatives that show results in student achievement and progress.

“It is our mission to create an educational culture that nurtures student success in every way,” said Dr. Laurel Williamson, deputy chancellor and San Jacinto College president. “This approach begins with our Board of Trustees, who cast the vision for our College, and it filters through every aspect of our students’ educational journey. Our dedicated faculty and staff work tirelessly to implement new techniques, innovative methods, and accessible resources in the classroom to ensure that our students have the tools and support needed to finish what they start here at San Jacinto College.”

Community colleges today enroll about 40 percent of all U.S. undergraduates – 6 million students – who are working toward earning degrees and certificates. Improving student success across the more than 1,100 community colleges in the U.S. is critical to national efforts to develop talent and enable individual social mobility because:

  • Community colleges disproportionally enroll low-income and minority students enrolled in college today.
  • Community college graduation rates remain flat, with fewer than 40 percent of all entering students earning a degree and / or transferring to a four-year college or university.
  • A college degree today is more important than ever before. Recent research shows that out of the 11.6 million jobs created in the post-recession economy, 11.5 million require a college education.

For more information about the 2019 Aspen Prize Winners and Rising Star recipients, as well as information and lessons learned from the all of the Prize Finalists listed below, please visit the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence website.

2019 Aspen Prize Winners

Indian River State College (Fort Pierce, FL)

Miami Dade College (Miami, FL)

Rising Star Award

Odessa College (Odessa, TX)

Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom (Lakewood, WA)

Alamo Colleges District – Palo Alto College (San Antonio, TX)


Broward College (Fort Lauderdale, FL)

CUNY Kingsborough Community College (Brooklyn, NY)

Mitchell Technical Institute (Mitchell, SD)

Pasadena City College (Pasadena, CA)

San Jacinto College (Pasadena, TX)

The Aspen Prize is generously funded by ECMC Foundation, Joyce Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and Siemens Foundation.

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes, especially for the growing population of low-income and minority students on American campuses. The program is part of The Aspen Institute, which has a mission of fostering leadership based on enduring values and providing a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. For more information, visit and and follow @AspenHigherEd on Twitter.

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries, and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has served the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, since 1961. The College is fiscally sound, holding bond ratings of AA and Aa2 by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s. San Jacinto College is a 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence Top 10 institution, a 2017 Aspen Prize Rising Star Award recipient, and an Achieving the Dream Leader College. The College serves approximately 45,000 credit and non-credit students annually, and offers eight areas of study that put students on a path to transfer to four-year institutions or enter the workforce. San Jacinto College’s impact on the region totals $1.3 billion in added income, which supports 13,044 jobs.

For more information about San Jacinto College call 281-998-6150, visit or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.