“I enjoyed working directly with the students — hearing about their dreams and learning about their challenges while I’ve helped them plan their academic journeys,” said Dr. Solano. “This new role will be a bit different for me, but I will try to bring that student perspective into everything I do here.”
As director of the center, located on Race Street, Dr. Solano will lead the staff in providing all the services Cambridge-based students need to be successful. In the coming months, Cambridge residents are likely to meet Dr. Solano as she begins her community outreach efforts.
The Cambridge Center, Dr. Solano said, is a resource for everyone in Dorchester County, playing a critical role in the economic and social health of the downtown area.
In addition to credit classes in both transfer and career programs, the center also offers workforce training, personal enrichment opportunities and meeting spaces for community organizations. The center also houses the American Job Center.
“We’re an education center for students of all ages, but I hope residents here also see us as a center of community growth,” Dr. Solano said.
Dr. Solano first joined Chesapeake as an English as a Second Language instructor. She was later the academic and career advisor guiding students through actionable plans to achieve their goals.
A native of Costa Rica, Dr. Solano came to the United States as a graduate student. After earning her bachelor’s degree in Costa Rica, she worked for an international flower exporter as she continued her studies toward licensure at the University of Costa Rica.
Her future plans took a turn when a professor at UCR asked if she was adventurous. Thinking that the professor meant bungee jumping or some other daredevil sport, Dr. Solano prepared to decline. Instead, the professor asked if she would be interested in taking on a new academic challenge in a different country. He recommended her for a graduate research post at the University of Maryland.
While working on “green” roof research and earning her master’s degree in natural resources science at College Park, Dr. Solano’s interest grew in building sustainable communities through policy and education.
She went on to earn a Ph.D. in public policy and urban affairs at the University of Delaware.
“It’s ironic that I studied urban affairs and ended up in rural area,” Dr. Solano said. “Rural and urban areas face many of the same challenges, though, and people in both areas want the same things.”
Better lives and a greater sense of community, Dr. Solano said, are common desires for most people. The Cambridge Center provides both, she said.
For more information about the Chesapeake College Cambridge Center, please visit www.chesapeake.edu/