Valdez Bravo is First Latino on PCC Board of Directors.
Valdez Bravo recently became the newly elected Board Director for Zone Five of Portland Community College, finishing with 49.8 percent of the vote. Zone Five covers SW Portland and Beaverton. He ran as a “Lifelong Public Servant with PCC Roots” and had support from many progressives across the Portland Metro area. He was endorsed by the PCC Federation of Faculty and Academic Professionals and the PCC Federation of Classified Employees, but It didn’t hurt to get a massive shout-out from popular politician Bernie Sanders.
Bravo says he’s excited to serve his community in a brand new way after winning his election: “I really see myself as a representative of the community, as this is an elected position… We want to make sure we always have the needs of the students and the community in mind, but I also feel like in order to have both of those, you have to keep the faculty in mind.”
Bravo won his election by promising to bring a unique and fresh perspective to the board table. He began his professional career by serving in the Army for eight years after high school, and he thanks this experience for teaching him discipline and for giving the opportunity to afford a higher education, as well as the honor and privilege to serve the country he loves.
When he came back from Afghanistan, he enrolled at PCC in 2004, and learned the skills needed to become a biomedical equipment technician for the next 7 years, allowing him to move up to a healthcare administrator role later on. He said he takes pride in attending Portland Community College because it allowed him thrive and became inspired, motivated and intellectually challenged by the school and its faculty. Bravo believes his personal connection with the school as a student and his diverse background, Bravo believes this will allow him to have a more down to earth approach to the important decisions the board will have to make.
An affordable education is a major reason that Oregon students choose to attend PCC, but the board recently decided to raise tuition by seven percent for the 2017-2018 school year, and they’re expecting to do the same for the next. Valdez Bravo stated he would do what he can as a new board member to insure this college remains affordable.
“I would like to work with the board to prevent future tuition increases. I feel like community college is supposed to be an opportunity that is accessible with a low economic barrier. “
Valdez Bravo also brought up other solutions for budget issues:
“I’m also interested in a longer sustaining, wider breadth program where we reach out to PCC alum for small dollar donations, allowing us to mitigate these costs. “
Bravo’s connection to PCC runs deeper than just his education. His father is from Guanajuato Mexico, and he came to America as an undocumented immigrant, he met his wife and started a family, seeking the American dream.
Bravo was a first-generation of his family to attend college, and he said growing up in a Latino family has taught him to appreciate what he believes is a cornerstone of Latino culture: “The collective good”.
He says he is committed to be a strong advocate for underrepresented communities as a serving member of the PCC Board of Directors. Over 25% of PCC students are black, Hispanic or other minorities, and he’s promised to make sure all of their voices can be heard.
PCC became the first sanctuary community college campus in Oregon, which means college officials offer education to all comers, regardless of their citizenship status. He has promised to protect this sanctuary status as a Board Director. President Trump’s rescission of Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) brings a new challenge for PCC students; Bravo has stated that he is prepared to work with faculty and leaders to protect DACA students with Rock Creek’s new DACA resource center. Bravo has even more plans for supporting undocumented students: “Something I wanted to do was introduce an undocumented resource center, similar to what the California University system has … If an organization is really serious about solving a problem, the organization needs to resource it.”
The PCC Board has recently stated that they support DACA students and that they “encourage the College to continue to offer support and resources to our DACA and DREAMer students and staff and hope that Congress will create a more humane long-term solution for these members of our college community.”
“If someone’s in class trying to learn, they shouldn’t be keeping an eye on the door, wondering if an ICE agent is gonna come in, that’s not an environment where learning is done.” Says Bravo.
Bravo’s experience in the healthcare industry will definitely come in handy when he is making decisions that impact the future for healthcare focused students.
“As a healthcare administrator for the department for Veteran Affairs, I believe there’s many opportunities in the healthcare industry besides just being a doctor or nurse… there’s occupational therapy assistants, home health aides, physical therapy, there are a lot of programs that allows you to learn the skills you need to serve the community and find success at the same time.”
According to the Portland Business Journal, PCC recently partnered with PSU, Oregon Health and Science University and the City of Portland for the construction of the School of Public Health, costing about $100 million and expected to open in 2020, according to the Portland Business Journal.
Updated 28 Sept 11:27 am.