Erika Endrijonas isn’t just an advocate for the pivotal role community colleges play in providing equal access to the American Dream. She is also an alum of Cal State Northridge and direct beneficiary of California’s longstanding commitment to affordable higher education for all. As such, she has an intrinsic understanding of the system’s value to society. And in her current position as the Superintendent and President of Pasadena City College, which is consistently ranked among the best in the state, she is fiercely determined to make sure the system remains a vital engine driving social mobility for generations to come.
Her guiding principle in leading a large public institution is to ensure that PCC levels the playing field for students from all walks of life. In her view, Pasadena City College and others like it are providing singular opportunities to transcend barriers — financial, cultural and social — that might be standing between them and a college degree.
Community colleges have a vital role in equalizing the playing field because not everybody has a family that will send them off to college.PCC President Erika Endrijonas
Erika’s combination of passion, tenacity and acuity has fueled her remarkable self-made success story. She cleared a set of financial obstacles only to go on and earn a PhD in history culminating in a fascinating dissertation on the ways in which mid-century cookbooks prescribed gender roles to a limited set of separate but unequal stereotypes. Though the segue to college leader isn’t an obvious one, the throughline connecting those dots is Erika’s unmistakable commitment to creating a more egalitarian world and her pragmatic approach to getting there.
This episode dives deep into the heart of educational equity and makes for a fitting conclusion to this season’s multifaceted journey through the ecosystem of post-secondary education at this unique moment in time.