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Friday, February 15 , 2019, 1:25 pm | Fog/Mist 55º


After 30 Years of Telling Hancock College’s Stories, Rebecca Alarcio Signing Off

For three decades, Dos Pueblos High graduate has provided campus communication as public affairs director

After six presidents, a massive bond-funded construction project, thousands of students and 30 years, Rebecca Alarcio is set to retire as director of public affairs at Allan Hancock College.

Several factors prompted the timing of her departure as the Santa Maria-based college’s first public affairs director. Her last day on the job is Friday.

“I chose to leave my job when I was madly in love with it ...,” Alarcio told Noozhawk. “I love Hancock. This my place. These are my people. But it’s time for a new adventure for me.”

She intends to work part-time for the CoastHills Federal Credit Union Community Foundation.

Alarcio, who grew up in Goleta and graduated from Dos Pueblos High School in 1977, attended Santa Barbara City College for a year before transferring to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

She originally planned to major in speech but soon discovered KCPR, the college radio station. She later did an internship at KTMS radio in Santa Barbara.

“That just became my life,” she said. “I was just immersed in it and loved it.”

A stint at KSBY-TV was followed by another at KCOY-TV, where she handled both news and weather.

But marriage, the realties of the news business requiring many moves to bigger markets, and a desire to remain on the Central Coast led Alarcio to apply for a public information specialist job at Hancock College.

“Basically my job was to write news releases for the college,” she said. “It was an 11-month assignment because I don’t think they thought there was enough to say in 12 months.”

The job soon evolved.

“Really, I just grew with and in the position and the position grew with me,” said Alarcio, who added that she gained new titles to go along her her new duties.

In the time she’s been at Hancock, she and her husband, Edmund Alarcio, who works as a master teacher in the Lucia Mar Unified School District, had two children, Cameron, 26, and Julianne, 24.

Alarcio can’t pinpoint one specific project or event she’s most proud of from her time at the college.

“My job, if we’re doing it right, is really that you don’t even know I’m doing my job,” she said. “My job is to support everyone else.”

When she began at the school, Hancock College was a sleepy campus, with a few courses held in the neighboring communities of Solvang, Lompoc and Vandenberg Air Force Base. The college was known for its vocational programs, not necessarily its courses for students transferring to four-year universities.

“It’s taken a lot of time and energy and work on everybody’s part, including mine, to really polish it and make it clear this such an amazing place with amazing things going on,” Alarcio said.

“It’s the fact that in the last two years the college has been identified as one of the top community colleges in the nation and what has occurred to bring us to that point,” she added. “And to have been part of that, is what I’m proud of.”

She is responsible for the college’s motto, “Start here. Go anywhere,” although she noted marketing professionals criticized it as being too generic.

Yet, the best testimony comes from those for whom the motto was meant.

“Our students really connect with it,” Alarcio said.

Today, thanks to the $180-million Measure I voters passed in 2006 the college has undergone a total transformation, with new buildings at the Santa Maria campus along with the new state-of-the-art Public Safety Training Complex at the Lompoc Valley Center location.

Those employed at Hancock are aware of how important the work they’re doing is for those students, she added.

“Where else can you say you go to work every day and what you do is truly to change people’s lives, to help them achieve their dreams,” Alarcio asked, adding that students who are the first generation in their families to attend college set their goals at Hancock to become an engineer, nurse or another career.

“That changes their trajectory for the rest of their lives and everybody who comes after it ...,” she said. “It just changes whole families. It changes generations. ... I think that’s how you do 30 years in one place because it never gets old.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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