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The Power of Education & Challenges in the Skilled Labor Market

Columnist: Lawrence Amaturo
June, 2018 Issue

Lawrence Amaturo
All articles by columnist

Welcome to our “Education and Jobs” issue! This year, Santa Rosa Junior College celebrates its centennial—100 years of service to the community. Many accomplished people in every profession started their academic careers at a community college. Steve Jobs started Apple Computers in the Jobs’ family garage with a fellow student from De Anza College (Cupertino, Calif.). Eileen Collins, a retired NASA astronaut, was the first female pilot and first female commander of a Space Shuttle, graduated from Corning Community College (Corning, New York) in 1976. And two-time academy award winner, Tom Hanks, studied theater at Chabot College (Hayward, Calif.), before transferring to California State University, Sacramento.

The value of education can’t be overstated, and many people get their start at a junior college. My father in law, Franklin Chinn, M.D., along with his five siblings attended their local JC before pursuing four-year bachelor degrees and earning doctorate degrees in medicine and engineering. The tradition continued as my wife, Susan Amaturo, M.D., and each of her four siblings followed suit with two-year JC stints, two more at four-year universities and another handful of doctorates in medicine and a graduate teaching degree.

Our cover story this month is by Jean Doppenberg, who has researched how the SRJC—a critical educational and commercial engine—has powered the entire Bay Area through its leadership in so many important fields. It’s fair to say that we’ve all been influenced by SRJC graduates in our daily lives. In its 100 years, 1.7 million students have attended the JC, including graduates, those receiving certificates and community education students. Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties are chock full of leaders in nursing, engineering, fire fighting and automotive services who all found their career path at the junior college. Both Marin and Napa have their equivalent versions of community college, and we all benefit because of them. Lifelong Californians might not fully appreciate this benefit, but our state’s commitment to the JC system leads the nation. For generations, the JC system has minimalized student debt, allowed for at-home room and board and provided excellent prep work for future coursework. Well done, SRJC!

In “Vision for the Future,” writer Judith Wilson sits down with Dr. Judy Sakaki, president of Sonoma State University, who shares her focus and vision for the university.

As for primary and secondary education, writers Cerrissa Kim and Petter Westby update us on the rebuilding efforts of several Santa Rosa schools that were greatly damaged during last October’s firestorm in the fourth installment of our “Rebuilding Our Communities” series, sponsored by Cornerstone. Cardinal Newman High School lost half of its buildings, but retrofitted four Catholic church buildings scattered along Highway 101 into new classrooms, and classes continued as usual. Its leadership, faculty and student body have shown strength and resiliency in the face of all these necessary changes. Additionally, Saint Rose elementary and preschool, ACE Sonoma/Anova, Mark West Preschool were all impacted by the firestorm. The schools’ featured have the belief, commitment and dedication to rise up and channel their efforts to create better versions of themselves going forward.

And finally, this month’s issue provides an update on the progress and challenges we face on the skilled labor construction front. Money—hundreds of millions or more of it—is pouring into our communities to help with the rebuild, but where is the manpower? Skills and sheer might are necessary to realize these goals. Veteran writer Jane Hodges Young provides an update on this important issue.

Please continue with your emails and letters. I learn from each one and look forward to more at!




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The Heroes Next Door

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Stars in Our Eyes

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How to Save a Park: Broadway Style

As the sun sets behind Sonoma Mountain, a talented group of professional singers and dancers perform on a stage set within the old winery ruins at Glen Ellen’s Jack London Historic State Park. T...

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