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Doug Ernst

Napa Valley Register columnist Doug Ernst.

At last week’s first annual Legislative Breakfast attended by nearly 150 educators, nonprofit leaders, business professionals and city, county, state and federal representatives, Napa Valley College received high praise for its service to the community while focusing on its mission to prepare students for well-paying and highly-skilled careers.

At the Nov. 29 event, “Investing in Education” was an oft-repeated theme of the five speakers there to update the community on the state of education, including Rep. Mike Thompson (via video), State Sen. Bill Dodd, State Assembly Member Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, Napa County Office of Education Superintendent Dr. Barbara Nemko and NVC President Dr. Ron Kraft.

In his videotaped message, Thompson promoted “policies that expand access to an affordable education for anyone who wants one, because the bottom line is, when we invest in education we are investing in a more prosperous future.”

Rafael Manzo, the college’s Associated Students president, echoed the sentiment.

“We’ve got some amazing people fighting for education and Napa Valley College is a key player, helping us all stay interconnected,” said Manzo. “Sometimes I overflow with how proud I am to be here.”

The college was also recognized by the offices of Representative Thompson and local State Representatives Dodd and Aguiar-Curry.

One, from Congress, recognized the college’s “volunteerism and dedication to the community during the Northern California wildfires and for demonstrating exceptional leadership in the face of extraordinary circumstances” by providing shelter to some 780 evacuees.

“By opening your doors, the college showed its heart to the community,” said Maira Ayala, Thompson’s Napa County representative.

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A second resolution, from the California Legislature, was presented by Dodd and Aguiar-Curry, commending the college’s “commitment, leadership and dedication to the Napa Valley Community and for your substantial contributions and generosity” for operating three shelters on campus.

But the key message was delivered by speakers who focused on the college’s reputation for advancing students to careers and four-year colleges and universities.

“The college is recognized as one of the state’s top performers in the career and technical fields of viticulture and winery technology, health occupations, welding and machine tool technology,” said Dr. Kraft.

The list of in-demand CTE programs offered at NVC also includes accounting, business, child and family studies, computer studies, criminal justice, digital design graphics technology, hospitality and small business development.

Kraft concluded by reminding the gathering that the college is a “first-tier” institution, because virtually anyone can come to the college first – to get a job or transfer to a four-year college.

Assembly Member Aguiar-Curry said students often realize “the American Dream” through academic and career development at NVC.

Likewise, Sen. Dodd noted that the college, by preparing students with the knowledge they need to pursue careers, contributes to the local economy.

“Every speaker was really quite remarkable and eloquent,” said student leader Manzo, who called the event “a knockout success.”

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Doug Ernst is the Napa Valley College public information officer. Reach him at DErnst@napavalley.edu or (707) 256-7112.

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