Beatriz Palmer moved to North County from Mexico when she was just a toddler, and the help she and her family received from neighbors and social service organizations while growing up left a lasting impression on the importance of serving others.
Her position as MiraCosta College’s Service Learning Coordinator puts her in a position to help others every day.
Service learning is a form of experiential education that partners academic instruction with community service, and each semester approximately 60 courses at MiraCosta College offer a service component either as an option or a requirement. Students learn through working with nonprofits and public schools, enabling them to apply course theory in real world settings while making valuable community contributions.
“I get paid to share my passion with college students,” Palmer said. “It’s awesome. It’s like a dream come true.”
Most of Palmer’s career has been dedicated to serving the public. The Oceanside High School graduate worked for the nonprofit MAAC Project Head Start before leaving for a biotech firm. “My heart was in public service, though,” she said. “I needed to get back to doing what I loved.”
So Palmer found a job as a secretary at a public school in Vista. When a secretary/clerk position opened up in the Service Learning program at MiraCosta College in 2005, Palmer applied and was hired. Shortly thereafter, Palmer enrolled at the Oceanside Campus as a student while working, earning enough credits to transfer to Azusa Pacific University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in human development.
Palmer’s service goes beyond her job at MiraCosta College. She regularly sponsors fundraisers for coworkers and students, she is often the first to participate in any donation drive on campus, and she also takes part in the charitable payroll deduction program. All that and more led to a 2016 Community Champions Award, a recognition that celebrates unsung heroes by Long Beach-based managed health care company Molina Healthcare.
“It’s important to show our students that being engaged has an impact on others in the community,” Palmer said. “It’s important that we try to make a difference.”