News Release

Santa Ana College Foundation Selects Five Notable Alumni to be Inducted into Hall of Fame

Santa Ana, Calif. – Five distinguished alumni will be inducted into the 2017 Santa Ana College (SAC) Hall of Fame on June 8 at 2:30 p.m. in Phillips Hall, 1530 W. 17th Street, Santa Ana. Sponsored by the SAC Foundation, the Hall of Fame recognizes alumni who have made exceptional contributions in their chosen fields and in their communities.

The 2017 SAC Hall of Fame Inductees include:

    • Elizabeth L. Aitken, Class of 1962
    • Steven L. Craig, Class of 1975
    • Jack W. DeWit, Class of 1963
    • Nora Mendez, Class of 1999
    • Denise S. Spooner, Ph.D., Class of 1979

Elizabeth L. Aitken
Aitken taught early elementary education for several years before devoting her attention to her family and the community. In addition to her active roles with numerous education and women’s non-profit organizations, she is a strong supporter of the arts and serves as a board member for the South Coast Repertory Theatre, the Muzeo in Anaheim, and the Segerstrom Center for the Arts’ “Angels of the Arts.” Thanks to her support, the Chance Theater in Anaheim underwent a major capital campaign in 2014 and moved to its new home at the Bette Aitken Theater Arts Center. She has been recognized by Senator Diane Feinstein and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez for her public service, and in 2016 was honored as a “Top Philanthropist in Orange County” by the Orange County Business Journal.

Steven L. Craig
Craig founded the Steven Craig Realty Group in 1995 and serves as its CEO and President. His company oversees approximately 5 million square feet of existing retail space and owns and operates 13 outlet centers in seven states, including The Citadel in Los Angeles and the Outlets at San Clemente. In addition, Craig has dedicated his time and fundraising efforts to Kidworks, Inc., which serves students in underserved communities and at-risk neighborhoods of Santa Ana, with afterschool programs, tutoring, and mentoring, among its services.

Jack DeWit
DeWit was an All-Eastern Conference tackle on Santa Ana College’s 1962 Championship football team, resulting in his induction to the College’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Upon his graduation in 1963, he transferred to UC Davis and found his calling in the rice industry. He currently farms over 4,500 acres of rice and wild rice in Yolo, Sutter, and Sacramento counties. DeWit has made great strides to help farmers develop efficient means of production, both locally and abroad. In honor of his grandson, Jacob, DeWit and his wife Bonnie established an endowment at UC Davis for football athletes studying early childhood development research.

Nora Mendez
Mendez has turned her challenges into her life’s work. As a child, she and her family—including eight siblings—were selected by the Orange County Community Housing Corporation (OCCHC) to live in subsidized housing. Knowing firsthand what it is like to lack financial and educational resources, she interned with OCCHC, including its SteppingUP program, which offers education, job training, health care, and financial literacy resources to its residents. After serving in various roles with the organization, she was named the executive director of OCCHC/SteppingUP in 2014, and continues to lead the non-profit organization in building and revitalizing neighborhoods to create healthy and safe communities for underserved families.

Denise S. Spooner, Ph.D.
Spooner drifted in and out of college until she found her passion in history. After earning her associate’s degree at Santa Ana College, she went on to earn her bachelor’s degree at UC Berkeley, and her master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Spooner returned to Santa Ana College (at the time called Rancho Santiago College) in the 1980s and 1990s, and continued to teach at local Southern California four-year universities. In addition to her statewide academic leadership, she is a member of historical preservationists in the City of Claremont.

About Santa Ana College
Santa Ana College (SAC), which turned 100 years old in 2015, serves about 18,000 students each semester at its main campus in Santa Ana. The college prepares students for transfer to four-year institutions, 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.

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Contact: Melissa Utsuki

Phone: (714) 564-5527