Alumni Story

Meléndez de Santa Ana PhD ’95 to speak at USC Rossier Masters commencement

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The USC Rossier School of Education is pleased to announce that Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana PhD ’95 will be the keynote speaker at its May 16, 2014 Masters Degree Commencement Ceremony.

Meléndez de Santa Ana is one of USC Rossier’s most distinguished alumni.

She was recently named by LAUSD superintendent John Deasy as a senior administrator to the district, and in that capacity serves as second-in-command for Beyond the Bell, a division that oversees after-school programs, among other functions. Prior to this post, she served as director of education and workforce development for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, providing guidance on matters affecting the Los Angeles Unified School District and acting as a liaison between local colleges and businesses to improve the connections between education and job training.

On the national education stage, Meléndez de Santa Ana served as assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education for the Obama administration under U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

She has also built an award-winning reputation as a superintendent in some of California’s largest and most complex school districts, including Santa Ana Unified and Pomona Unified, where she is credited with transforming the district’s culture by engaging parents and the community. Among her many honors, she was recognized as 2009 California Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators; 2010 Woman of the Year by Hispanic Business magazine; 2011 National Hispanic Woman of the Year by the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation; and Latina of Excellence by Hispanic magazine.

Melendez de Santa Ana’s passion for education, quality teaching, and success for all students took root at a young age when she entered a Southern California kindergarten speaking only Spanish. She credits the teachers who saw and encouraged her potential with starting her on the path to her multiple accomplishments.

In 2012, Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana was honored with the USC Alumni Merit Award, for which she expressed her gratitude “for the lasting influences USC and the Rossier School of Education have had in my life.”

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