By Paul Medina
In 76 years of operation, East Los Angeles College has transformed itself and created a legacy reflected in its alumni. Throughout the decades, the campus has increased its size, its programs offered and the number of its services to the communities it serves.
ELAC’s initial batch of students consisted of 380 and a faculty of 19 according to the ELAC Foundation’s website. Initially, many educators were brought in from other assignments.
Among those was ELAC’s first President, Roscoe C. Ingalls, the namesake of ELAC’s large auditorium located in the middle of campus.
Ingalls previously served as the Principal of
James A. Garfield High School and Director of Los Angeles City College.
Throughout its history, ELAC students have graduated and returned to serve their alma matter in some capacity. Among them was Roger Holguin who graduated in the 1960s and returned to ELAC as a Business professor, before retiring with a 40+ year career of teaching at ELAC.
Throughout the decades ELAC has had many additional alumni return to campus. Among them ELAC Alumni Association President Maria Elena Yepes, Professor Emeritus of English and later Learning Technology Center director.
Frank Lozano also returned and is the current student life activities director, a Child Development instructor and a board of directors member of the ELAC Alumni association.
In the Political Science department Al Rios returned not only as an instructor, but as a current ELAC Dean and Mayor of South Gate. Jeffrey Hernandez returned to ELAC to teach Political Science and currently serves as the Academic Senate President.
ELAC currently has an alumni association with members who have returned to ELAC not only to serve, but also to teach at their alma matter. Felipe Agredano, Political Science instructor, served as the alumni association’s former Vice President. Its current Vice President Ana Osio, is an ELAC Child Development instructor.
Many alumni have also returned to promote the spirit and camaraderie of ELAC. English Professor Dennis Sanchez retired after a 30-year career of teaching and impacting students. During Sanchez’s time as an ELAC instructor he founded the East Side Spirit and Pride which began to promote the college during a time in which camaraderie wasn’t as strong.
According to its mission statement online, “The mission of The East Side Spirit and Pride Club is to assist students to realize their full potential in transferring to a four-year college or university of their choice.” ESSP impacted thousands of students through mentorship, scholarships and in helping to make ELAC a more memorable experience.
The college has also welcomed back leaders in the athletics department. Instructors such as Kinesiology Professor Marilyn Ladd and Orlando Brenes, who was a part of the 1974 State Championship winning Soccer team, would return in 1990 as a coach and help ELAC then also win the state championship in soccer.
Other alumni have returned to ELAC in the athletics department are Rick Gamboa, who played football during his time as an ELAC student.
He then returned to ELAC as its football coach. Former NFL running back Lynn Cain, who was instrumental in ELAC’s 1974 football State Championship, later returned for a brief stint as ELAC’s Football head coach.