Mesa welcomes new deserving Dean

Nicole DeJesus

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As the new Dean of Student Affairs at the largest community college in San Diego, with around 22,000 people, Ashanti Hands knows what she’s doing because of where she’s been.

Hands arrived at Mesa Jan. 21 and says, “It feels like the right place to be.”

The new Dean received a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in ethnic studies from UC San Diego and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in Counseling from San Diego State. After school she worked at the EOPS department at Grossmont College as a counselor before returning to UCSD as the Coordinator of Student Activities. During her 13-year career at UCSD, Hands became the Assistant Dean and finally, a Dean of Student Affairs. In this position she was responsible for one of six schools on the campus, reaching about 3,600 to 3,800 students.

“I loved it there, I helped our college grow,” said Hands, but she’s eager to work with “the diversity of students here at Mesa…you can meet people who just graduated high school, are married, or Veterans, all in the same day.”

Now she oversees all student affairs including student financial and health services and says she couldn’t do it without her amazing staff.

She seems to relish the one-on-one interaction with students the most. As well as leading Mesa’s student government, clubs and programs such as scholarships, she also handles disruptive students.”This part of my job gives me the opportunity to meet with students that I may not have met otherwise,” she said.

Hands recalled an annual Martin Luther King Jr. community luncheon. “The chancellor of UCSD stood up and said, ‘We’re proud to educate the top 12 percent’, then a representative from SDSU stood up and said, ‘We’re proud to educate the top 25 percent’, then the chancellor of the Sand Diego Community College District stood up and said, ‘We’re proud to educate them all!”

Although she enjoyed working at UCSD, she said she was looking for a position at the community college level.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to impact students at various points in their journey,” said Hands.

Hands is married to a Mesa alum and has two children? a son and a daughter. She was born and raised in Inglewood, Calif. and has been living in San Diego for 19 years.

Her most important message to students is to “get involved,” and she quotes Gandhi by saying, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

When asked about her aspirations as Dean she said, “I’m excited to be a part of something that will be able to maintain some old traditions as well as start new ones. I can see myself here for a long time.”

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