Board of Trustees candidate Charles Nelson feels a personal bond with PCC.A 16-year resident of Pasadena, Nelson received his A.A. from PCC in May 2001, and he now has a daughter in community college. “I feel I connect with the students,” he said.

In his candidate statement for Area 4 of the Pasadena Area Community College District, Nelson identifies three goals: to increase minority enrollment from throughout the city; to improve public safety on campus; and to improve interaction with the Pasadena Unified School District concerning transition from high school to college.

For Nelson, educational opportunity is the link between all three goals.

“I believe in giving a helping hand, not a handout,” he said. “Look at a lot of our gangs: Latino or African-American gang members who don’t have the resources to go to college. I’d rather they be in school than driving around. An educated community is a more productive community, with less crime.”

Nelson applauds the current proposal for PCC to help gang members build marketable skills in trades such as truck driving.

“People are always looking for apprentices,” he said. “A lot of these trades pay very well. The reason I got a Class A [trucker’s] license is that I’ll always be able to get a job.”

Nelson is currently the deputy director of public works for Compton, but seven years ago he was driving a garbage truck, hoping that his classes at PCC would help him earn a promotion to supervisor.

“Without PCC I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Nelson said. “I’d probably still be driving that truck. Education gave me the foundation and the confidence.”

It also gave him an appreciation for the work of public safety officers, gained while serving as a cadet in PCC’s police and safety services department.

Back then it might have made sense for campus officers to be armed only with batons and mace, Nelson said, but not now.

“There’s a lot of violence today. You have to have weapons to be able to protect the stakeholders. PCC has POST-certified police officers, but they have to call the city police.”

In the long run, Nelson believes PCC’s chief contribution to public safety will be made one student at a time.

“PCC is a great intervention to get students on the bandwagon of success, preparing young adults to be productive, law-abiding members of society,” Nelson said.

“The city will benefit from helping those who are stakeholders. Whether you went to private school or public, we all still live in the same community.

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