By Alison Graef
Jacob Wong, 39, served as the first student trustee on the Alamo Colleges board of trustees in 2014-15. He also served as president of the Student Government Association at this college before graduating with a liberal arts degree in 2015.
Since July 2015, Wong has worked at Alamo Colleges as an employment specialist and processes all incoming employees for the five colleges and the district.
He said his long history with Alamo Colleges informs his insight on issues, causing other employees to seek his advice. He said he has a reputation for being a person who will “always pick up the phone” and help.
He said he was encouraged by employees, students and former students to run for District 6.
“When I have a knowledge of the whole picture, and there’s people looking for answers, I’m there to help them,” Wong said. “ … It’s these people who are saying ‘It’s the right time and you’re the right person.’”
He said as a nontraditional student, he never thought he could succeed before attending this college.
He said his passion for Alamo Colleges comes from positive student experiences and his appreciation for the affordability and quality of education.
“It’s very important to me because I am successful because of Alamo Colleges,” he said. “It’s a passion about everything that made me who I am.”
Wong said as student trustee, he saw what happens both inside and outside the boardroom. He said as an employee, he has insight into different departments and has worked with other employees.
“I’m learning about what’s going on in the background,” he said. “Having seen each one of those perspectives, I’m getting the whole picture, and we have a lot of problems.
“I need to be up there to ensure that we protect what we need to do for students,” Wong said. “And to ensure that we value our faculty members and our employees because they provide that for our students.”
Wong said his goal on the board would be to share his perspective convincingly to all of the other trustees and forcefully enough to enact change.
“You’re trying to get your perspective and your voice heard among nine individuals and ensure the perspective you’re delivering will help shape and mold the future of what we do for our students,” Wong said. “I don’t think that Sprague has that in him anymore.”
Wong said he doesn’t feel Sprague has adequately represented District 6 constituents but has played a passive role on the board in his 24 years of service.
“He’s been there during some of the darkest times of Alamo Colleges’ history, and he’s been there during some of the best times, but the only consistent thing about that is he’s just been there,” Wong said.
He said it would be his responsibility as trustee to draw from his perspective and community input.
“When you serve for the community, the community should know who you are,” Wong said. “You shouldn’t be making your decisions in a vacuum.”
Wong said to represent his constituents, who are taxpayers funding the colleges, people need to see their money is used responsibly for affordable education that “is going to count when our students leave.”
“The moment we start wasting it and frittering it away means that we’re losing it in our programs,” he said.
Wong said his largest criticism of the board is the $21.5 million shortfall caused by the dual credit and early college high school program.