Outstanding Mentor – Dr. Jose Cabrera

“Being a mentor means being able to see through a student’s barriers and challenges and empower them to discover hidden talents. It means believing in someone else because you see yourself in them.” – Dr. Jose Cabrera

SACNAS congratulates Dr. Jose Cabrera on being awarded SACNAS Outstanding Community College Mentor!

Dr. Cabrera has been involved with SACNAS since 1998, is an alumnus of both LPSLI (2012) and ALI (2017), and serves as the advisor to the San Jose City College SACNAS Chapter.

“Over the years many amazing individuals have sacrificed so much of themselves to provide we with the opportunity to excel; thank you!” said Dr. Cabrera. “This award means that I have continued the legacy of those inspiring mentors who paved the way for me.”

Reflecting on his journey in STEM, Dr. Cabrera never imagined ever attending college let alone pursuing a doctorate in physical chemistry. He started at Cerritos Community College, eventually transferring and earning a B.S. in chemistry from California State University Los Angeles (CSULA). At CSULA he was a MARC fellow researching the characterization of the infrared spectrum of alkyl peroxy radicals. He would go on to complete his postdoctoral work in the department of geophysics at Stanford University and obtain his Ph.D.in physical chemistry from the University of California at Irvine.

In 2008 Dr. Cabrera joined San Jose City College (SJCC) as a professor in the department of chemistry and became advisor to the SJCC SACNAS chapter in 2010. According to Dr. Cabrera, the experience and knowledge that he has gained through the years is without worth if not shared with others.

“I believe that being a mentor is important because it is equitable, transformative, and the path to true diversity,” said Dr. Cabrera of his time at SJCC. “Just like iron sharpens iron, so have my students served to make me a better educator, leader, and mentor.”

“As a mentor, Dr. Cabrera is always looking to improve himself on an educational level to increase student success through new technique and teaching paradigms,” said Sabrina Rivas, a 3rd year undergraduate student at San Jose City College and one of Dr. Cabrera’s students.

In 2012 Dr. Cabrera was accepted to the prestigious Linton-Poodry SACNAS Leadership Institute. Through this training, he would develop into a more strategic thinker, a more deliberate actor, and a more reflective leader.

“There is so much untapped potential.” said Dr. Cabrera. “Many students don’t realize how talented they are. How resilient. Being a mentor means learning how to listen. It means enabling someone else to reflect and see things from various perspectives; sometimes the glass is not half full or half empty. The glass may just be the wrong size.”

In addition to his work with SACNAS, Dr. Cabrera has worked with numerous bridge programs between community college and 4-year universities, including The Stanford Summer Community College Premedical Program, LEAP Leadership Enrichment for Aspiring Physicians; METAs, and Cultivamos Excelencia. In 2017 he spoke at the March for Science Silicon Valley, a day of action in support of science and diversity in STEM.

“His devotion to students is not limited to the classroom,” added Rivas. “Dr. Cabrera’s passion for STEM diversity is seen in all of his work, consistently going out of his way to open more doors for students at the community college level.”

As a demonstrated champion for student success, Dr. Cabrera credits a number of individuals have served as his mentors, challenged his thinking, and significantly widened the lens by which he sees and interacts with his environment.

“I am eternally thankful for the LPSLI and for mentors who over the years encouraged me to discover his hidden talents, including Carlos Gutierrez, Scott Nickolaisen, and Kenneth C. Janda.” said Dr. Cabrera.

In celebration of his unwavering dedication to serving students and the future generation of STEM, SACNAS is proud to recognize Dr. Jose Cabrera as a SACNAS Outstanding Community College Mentor.

Learn more about Dr. Cabrera:

  • Follow Jose on Twitter
  • Watch Jose’s speech at the 2017 March for Science Silicon Valley
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