Dr. Lonita Cordova’s path towards becoming the Merced College Dean of Student Equity and Success began many years ago.

It was during a brief stint working with underprivileged youth at the San Joaquin County Office of Education that Cordova discovered her passion.

Wishing to make a substantial impact in those student’s lives, Cordova decided her efforts would be best spent at the collegiate level. Capitalizing on her eight years spent serving in the Navy, Cordova used the Troops to Teachers Grant to obtain a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and the GI Bill to complete a Masters in Educational Counseling before earning a Ph.D. in Psychology at Walden University.

“The County Office of Education is where I got a lot of my foundational build in working with disproportionately represented students,” Cordova said. “Working with foster youth, homeless and incarcerated students definitely had a huge impact on me.

“I had a student that got 150 years in prison, and I decided at that point I wanted to do more and would like to influence institutional and systemic change at a level that would help eliminate some of the barriers that were keeping these kids out of college.

“Becoming the Dean of Student Equity is pretty much my dream job.”

Cordova’s wasn’t the only dream realized on Tuesday evening as the Merced College Board of Trustees also approved the promotion of Dr. Anne DiCarlo to Dean of Student Services.

DiCarlo, a Merced College graduate, has served the school for three years as the Director of the Office of Relations with Schools where she oversaw the ORS, Career Center and Transfer Center. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of California Santa Barbara, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame and her Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership from California State University Stanislaus.

“I worked closely with the previous dean for the last two years, so it was kind of like getting a job preview,” DiCarlo said. “I got to see what they did and how they did it and learned some of the potential pitfalls and some things you could do to impact students in positive ways.”

Cordova, who served as the Director of Student Services at Modesto Junior College before joining Merced, will oversee Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS), Student Success, California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs), Disabled Students Program & Services (DSPS), Student Equity and the Veterans Resource Center.

DiCarlo will watch over the Associated Students of Merced College (ASMC), Counseling, Admissions and Records, ORS, the Career Center and Transfer Center.

Vice President of Student Services Dr. Michael McCandless said both are excellent additions to the Merced College management team.

“Dr. Cordova possesses a wealth of experience in equity related programs, but more importantly is a dedicated educator committed to student learning and success,” McCandless said. “Dr. Cordova is poised to make immediate contributions to student success at Merced College.

“Dr. DiCarlo possesses the education and experience necessary to make immediate and substantial contributions to the College as Dean of Student Services. Dr. DiCarlo is a Merced native and a former Merced College student. She is invested in both the District and the community, with a focus on student success.”