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She’s Attained a Higher Degree of Employment

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Mission College students stepped into the 21st century last week when they entered the school’s new Library and Learning Resource Center, and Shari Borchetta looked on with the excitement and pride of a mother showing off her new baby.

“You can’t imagine what it took to get this off the ground,” she said of the state-of-the-art center that boasts 300 new computers. “It’s first-rate.”

The same could be said of Borchetta, 55, vice president of administrative services who oversees the budget, personnel and facilities at the 22-year-old college in Sylmar.

The soft-spoken mother of three began her association with Mission College in 1975 when she was the second clerical worker hired at the Los Angeles Community College District’s ninth and newest school.

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With only a high school diploma under her belt and faced with the daunting responsibility of raising her children alone following a divorce, Borchetta was happy to land the position.

“I knew I had to do this for my kids,” the Granada Hills resident said. “And I wanted to be a good role model.”

No one disputes that she accomplished that goal.

Over a seven-year period, Borchetta steadily earned job promotions at the college, learning everything she could along the way, from how to negotiate contracts to balancing the campus budget. By 1990 she was assistant to the college president.

“She is just an outstanding woman,” said Jack Fujimoto, former Mission College president and currently a lecturer at the school of education at UCLA. “When I worked on getting funding for our new campus, Shari worked on construction contracts. . . . She truly helped get the facility off the ground.”

For a number of years, the college had leased classroom space at a variety of locations in San Fernando, including storefronts in strip malls. In 1988 the school received funding from the California Community Colleges for a new campus. The doors to the Sylmar facility opened in July 1991.

During the planning and building phases of the project, Borchetta served as a liaison between the college and the Los Angeles Community College District and between the faculty and the architects and contractors.

While Mission College struggled to expand its horizons, Borchetta decided it was time to expand her own. One night in 1984, she sat her children down and announced she wasn’t going to be cooking anymore; she would be attending night school instead.

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“I believed education would give me more choices in life,” Borchetta said. “So I went to work six days a week and to college at night. I worked with a group of school friends who cooked for me once a week. My kids were very supportive.”

Borchetta received her bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in organizational management, both from the Valley’s University of Phoenix.

“Shari is a role model for students here at Mission,” said Rosalie Hilgar, a onetime aide to Borchetta. “She learned how to get things done here, to work through our system. It was a long and difficult road for her. The effort paid off.”

“I was the first person in my family to get a degree higher than a high school diploma,” Borchetta said. “Working here, I get to see people who are doing the same thing. It’s a thrill.”

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Personal Best is a weekly profile of an ordinary person who does extraordinary things. Please send suggestions on prospective candidates to Personal Best, Los Angeles Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth, 91311. Or fax them to (818) 772-3338. Or e-mail them to valley@latimes.com.


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