Felicia Duenas & Oscar Cobian: Career Education
College Leaders Remove Barriers for Immigrant Students
As an immigrant from the Philippines, Felicia Dueñas never assumed she’d be in her current role. But as a current Career Education II (Technology & Workplace Essentials) Dean at Ventura College, Felicia is living proof that anything can happen in life.
“In the 1980s, my family moved to the United States due to political unrest in the Philippines,” explains Felicia. “It was a hard decision for my parents, but they wanted my siblings and me to have more opportunities and a better life.”
Felicia remembers that her parents wanted their children to attend and excel at college in the U.S., seeing it as a natural progression and result of their many sacrifices. They themselves worked extremely hard, earning master’s degrees of their own, to set a high standard for Felicia and her siblings.
“Our parents, like many immigrant parents, gave up a lot to start over in the United States,” says Felicia. “They worked very hard to provide us with the opportunity to pursue an education.”
This past year, Felicia gave a heartfelt address to a Ventura College crowd during one of the school’s staff and faculty professional development “FLEX Days.” “At last year’s all-campus day, I was sitting where you’re sitting,” Felicia told the assembled crowd. “I found out about the Ventura College Foundation. And when the Foundation showed us that you could give just by sending a text, I signed up.”
Felicia also shared the tale of her husband, Oscar Cobian. The son of Mexican immigrants himself and also a proud graduate of Ventura College, Oscar currently services as the Vice President of Student Services at Oxnard College. His parents have a third-grade education, and he became the first member of his family to attend college.
“Our parents worked hard to provide us with an education,” recalled Felicia. “To honor our parents and so many parents who make so many sacrifices to provide more opportunities to their children, my husband and I decided to start a scholarship for undocumented students.”
Felicia and Oscar are excited for the opportunity to award the very first recipient of the VC Dreamers Scholarship in the spring of 2019.
“We’re passionate about education,” said Felicia. “We believe that anyone who wants to get an education should get one. We want this scholarship to help students who face so many barriers make their dreams — and their parents’ dreams — a reality. As Booker T. Washington said, ‘If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.’”
Felicia and Oscar are devoted to doing just that. Along the way, they’re inspiring others to do the same.