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The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Former teacher, athlete takes over as SBCC admissions chief

Nicole Haun
Michael Medel hangs out at La Playa Stadium on Thursday, Feb. 13, in Santa Barbara. From 1996-97 Medel ran the 100m and 200m sprints, as well as both relay events for the Vaqueros.

The newest director of admission and records started as a student searching for a purpose. When Michael Medel enrolled at City College in 1996, he wanted to be a television producer.

“College was kind of an afterthought,” Medel said. “I think I kind of stumbled on it by chance. That’s because I was an athlete and I knew I wanted to continue competing.”

While he was a student at City College, Medel also ran track and field as a Vaquero. That’s what “brought me in,” he said.

In his time at City College, he has worked in student outreach and orientation, as well as, financial aid as a manager. He also worked as a student worker in admissions and records and campus security.

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Medel transferred to San Diego State University from City College and graduated with a bachelor degree in communication. Still with the idea of being a television producer, he completed an internship as a production assistant with KPBS in San Diego to see if the media world was for him.

“Thank goodness for internships because it really allows you to see your career before you go into it,” he said. “I decided that it probably wasn’t going to be for me.”

When he realized that being a TV producer wasn’t on his list of life goals, he moved home to Carpentaria and took the CBEST (California Basic Educational Skills Test) exam to become a substitute teacher.

Within the first month of teaching, he was offered a full-time position as a second grade teacher at Canalino Elementary School in Carpinteria.

“I was thrown into the situation and I made it work,” he said.

He taught there for one year and then decided to come back to City College and work in the admissions and records office again.

When he decided that City College was the place he wanted to be, he decided to go back to school and earn his Master’s degree so he could teach. At the same time, he worked part-time at City College in admissions and records. In 2007, he graduated from California State University, Northridge.

“Just being able to watch him grow into all these responsibilities, both personally and professionally, has been very, very special,” said Allison Curtis, associate dean of student services.

Along with his new position, Medel teaches communication 131 – Fundamentals of Public Speaking. With a class of 30, he manages his time between the two positions.

“He’s very interactive with students and doesn’t make you feel nervous in front of the class,” said Mintra Pothonhsunun, communication major. “You can tell that he really cares about you and helps you get over anxiety.”

Teaching communication is his “natural high,” he said.

“Teaching is like a break, it’s the part I look forward too. To me it’s not work at all. It’s my happy time,” Medel said. “It’s working with the students and being able to see change and realize their potential.”

Medel’s main focus is the students at City College. When he first started as a student, his brother, Tom, played a big role in pushing and mentoring him through it all. Medel said his family is the foundation of his work ethic.

Being involved at City College isn’t the only thing on Medel’s list of accomplishments. He sits on the United Board of Directors for the Santa Barbara and Goleta Boys and Girls Club as well as a director of the Earl Warren Showgrounds.

“Michael has also grown and become a valued member of this community,” Curtis said. “He not only cares about Santa Barbara City College, he cares about his community.”

Medel and his wife Monique Limon have lived in Goleta for four years. Limon teaches at UCSB full-time.

“Each day that I drive to school, I’m thinking ‘whose life am I going to change today?’” he said. “Somebody’s pathway is going to be changed today and I’m going to have a key hand in that.”

“That just makes me want to get to work really quick, every day.”

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