News Release

Santa Ana College Alumna Nora Mendez to Receive the American Association of Community Colleges 2020 Outstanding Alumni Award


​(Santa Ana, Calif.) – Santa Ana College (SAC) alumna Nora Mendez has been selected to receive the 2020 Outstanding Alumni Award from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). The national award represents the highest recognition for community colleges alumni and Mendez is one of four people chosen to receive the honor this year.

“Community colleges across the United States educate 12 million students each year, and each one of those students has overcome their own barriers on the path to success,” said AACC President and CEO Walter G. Bumphus, Ph.D. “I’m pleased we are able to honor just a few of the remarkable individuals who benefited from a community college education and have not only gone on to have successful careers, but also – and more importantly – have made a lasting and positive impact on their communities.”

To be eligible, alumni must be nominated by an AACC member CEO, have attended a community college for at least 30 semester hours and achieved national recognition. A committee of the AACC Board of Directors considers each eligible nominee’s story (click here for Nora’s), accomplishments in their chosen field and their contributions to their community and college. Diversity also plays a role.

Mendez graduated from SAC with an associate degree in 1999 and from California State University, Fullerton with a bachelor’s degree in Human Services in 2001. She serves as executive director of OC Community Housing Corporation (OCCHC), where she works tirelessly to provide extremely low-income families with affordable homes and access to educational opportunities. She serves on numerous boards, including The Kennedy Commission, NeighborWorks OC, and Community Housing Resources, Inc., and was inducted into the SAC Alumni Hall of Fame in 2017.

She also has been honored with:

    • 2019 California Community College Distinguished Alumni Award
    • Orange County Department of Education and City of Santa Ana’s “Hispanic Woman of the Year”
    • “Women of Distinction Award” by the California State Assembly (2014)
    • 2013 Latin American Citizens Orange County “Hispanic of the Year”
    • U.S. House of Representatives Congressional Recognition Award for personal accomplishments and civic involvement

“Nora serves as an inspiration for community college students and alumni nationwide,” said Dr. Linda Rose, president, SAC. “Nominating her, just as highlighting the remarkable stories of all of our alumni, is vital to the work of our College Advancement office. We are so proud of her accomplishments, her leadership, and the impact she has made in our community. She represents the true spirit of our college. We applaud Nora and her fellow recipients for their academic excellence and selfless dedication to community service.”

The Outstanding Alumni Awards were established in 1982. The AACC recognized SAC alumni Robert David Hall in 2007 and Dr. James Nguyen in 2012.

In addition to Mendez, the 2020 Outstanding Alumni recipients are: Jean-Bernard Durand, medical director of Cardiomyopathy Services at MD Anderson Cancer Center, who attended Long Beach City College; Custer Workplace Interiors CEO/Chairman David Custer of Grand Rapids Community College; and Karen Morris-Priester, an anesthesiologist at Allentown Anesthesia Associates who attended HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College.

This year’s award recipients will be honored at a special breakfast, Monday, March 30, 2020, during AACC’s 100th Annual Convention in National Harbor, Maryland.

About Santa Ana College
Santa Ana College (SAC), which turned 100 years old in 2015, serves about 27,000 students each semester at its main campus in Santa Ana. The college prepares students for transfer to four-year institutions and provides invaluable workforce training and customized training for business and industry. In addition, another 11,000 students are served through the college’s School of Continuing Education located at Centennial Education Center. Ranked as one of the nation’s top two-year colleges awarding associate degrees to Latino and Asian students, the college is also recognized throughout the state for its comprehensive workforce training programs for nurses, firefighters, law enforcement and other medical personnel. SAC is one of two comprehensive colleges under the auspices of the Rancho Santiago Community College District.

Ms Nora Mendez.jpg 

Ms. Nora Mendez, recipient of the
2020 Outstanding Alumni Award
from the American Association
of Community Colleges (AACC)

# # #

Contact: Brin Wall

Phone: (714) 564-5527