The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Photo credit: Nick Shockey / nshockey.express@gmail.com
A letter from the editor
February 6, 2024

Rise to the occasion

City College counselor Juan LaChica at work for R.I.S.E in the Administration of Justice Department. | Kelvin Sanders Sr. | ksanderssr.express@gmail.com
City College counselor Juan LaChica at work for R.I.S.E in the Administration of Justice Department. | Kelvin Sanders Sr. | [email protected]

Tomatoes for $3? JuanLaChica says that is something he cannot get used to paying. Tomatoes are the same produce he picked in the Central Valley fields as a child. LaChica’s father planted and picked toma­toes in the fields. At the young age of 9, he joined his father in the tomato fields, working in the heat of the valley.

A City College counselor for more than 30 years, LaChica says he worked every job possible in and out of school but always appreciated “the value of a dollar” and all the hard work and obstacles that occurred just to earn a living. Growing up, LaChica says he never even dreamed of going to college or anything outside his daily world. He grew up a true Californian Chicano, born in the Imperial Valley and raised in the San Joaquin Valley.

But one day after a school official spoke to his brother about the option of being paid to attend college, LaChica was sold. Having originally majored in computer science, LaChica quickly realized he was definitely more of a people person who thrived on his interactions with others, so he changed his major to sociology. He graduated with a bachelor’s in sociology from UC Davis and a master’s from USC in counseling/administration.

“In my time in college, seeing another Latino on campus was like see­ing God,” LaChica says. “Now there is a handful more, but we need to keep improving.”

At 64, LaChica still enjoys counseling students. Daily, he goes out of his way to have meetings with a list of committees on campus to make sure students’ needs are being met. His office in the RISE center is filled with posters of Chicano art and mottos like,

“Si, Se Puede!”

This motto is what many Latino-American students live by, but La­Chica not only embodies it, he completely promotes the “if-I-can-do-it-you-can-do-it” mantra. He understands that most students have to deal with a variety of trials and tribulations just to get by.
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Students like Daisy DeSantiago, 21, appreciate La Chica.

“LaChica is the type of counselor that connects to a student on a one-on-one basis,” DeSantiago says. “He actually cares and puts his shoes in other student’s lives and doesn’t care how long you are in his office.”

Many others agree that his energetic, but understanding tactics help any student.

“He is very humble, empathetic to students’ hardships, with a non-judgmental approach, and always has an open door,” says Valerie Moore, a student personnel assistant in the RISE program on campus.

LaChica says his greatest reward of being a college counselor is getting to work with a variety of students daily and to eventually get to see them all take part in society with their individual skills. And even with that prog­ress, he believes more can be done. He is proud to see the growing number of Latinos in all Los Rios campuses, but believes that there is always room for improvement

“Now there is a handful more, but we need to keep improving,” La­Chica says. “We need to not only promote it in our high schools but go even further into our junior high and elementary schools. We need to form some type of pipeline to get people interested in education.”

LaChica has done so much in his 30 years on campus, but is nowhere near done. From the beaming sun in the Central Valley fields to the shaded trees at City College, Juan LaChica has experienced it all. His greatest ad­vice to each and every student on campus is the same: “Don’t let anybody tell you no, but most importantly do not tell yourself no.”

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