Arias previously held the Place 5 seat on the board for 12 years prior to relocating.
Arias is running against Tim Chappell.
Community Impact Newspaper sent Arias a set of questions about her candidacy. Her answers have been edited for publication style.
Why did you decide to run for the Collin College board of trustees?
I have much to offer as a graduate of Collin College, a graduate of one of the original Collin College transfer university partners, University of Texas at Dallas, a former trustee of the College and a person actively involved in K-12 education nationally. Additionally, my children have attended Collin College. Accordingly, I am a seasoned professional committed to academic excellence, college affordability, cost effectiveness and the core values (that I helped create) of Collin College. I know I can be a solid advocate for the students, faculty, staff, board and citizens of Collin County. I stand ready to help the college, taxpayers and community. My record and my experience speak for itself.
What experience do you think prepares you for serving on the board?
Serving Collin County has been a strong focus for me since 2000 when I first moved to the county. As I became the first college graduate in my family, from Collin College and then the University of Texas at Dallas, it became clear to me that my background would be a springboard to giving back on a greater level. I proudly served 12 years on the Collin College board of trustees, worked with city officials on the Celina Economic Development Corporation, as well as many other positions in various nonprofits throughout the county. I have taught in primary and secondary education. In GradePower Learning, focusing on improving franchises with their goals of increasing positive student academic outcomes nationwide. I am a key figure in Collin County through my consulting firm, AriaEd Consulting, where we create dynamic programming and solid partnerships for K-12 and corporations. My experience demonstrates my commitment to the county and to education.
Do you support the school marshal program? Why or why not?
The Marshal Plan is a very powerful topic because it revolves around a subject that speaks to the entirety of the community and that is the safety of our loved ones. I feel the greater issue is the mental health of our students. Collin has a great counseling service, but perhaps it is lacking in its scope. Can we do more to assist our students when it comes to mental health and emotional intelligence? Collin services offer individual and group sessions, as well as, crisis counseling. In comparison to institutions such as University of North Texas, we are barely touching the tip of the iceberg in meeting the needs. We know our students are shouldering a myriad of responsibilities surrounding their academics, families and jobs. We know that most of our students are balancing achieving their dreams with supporting their families due to financial constraints. We also know that they are struggling from the millions Collin has awarded in scholarships to those that could not afford tuition, much less, mental health care. Safety starts with nurturing our students and arming our community with the skillset to care for our citizens on a deeper level.
How do you think Collin College can address workforce needs in the area?
Collin College has always been in the forefront of workforce training. Programming at Collin is created in response to workforce needs. As a Collin trustee, we created the Alternative Teacher’s Certification program to meet the teacher shortage challenge Texas was facing, as well as, our refining our national renowned nursing program to meet the shortage of nurses. These are just two areas that I played a major role in its development. But looking to the future, what does workforce training look like? Collin College has received over $9 million through grants from the Skills Development Fund to meet the needs of Collin County businesses. This is a tremendous push to train our workers. I would like to be instrumental in developing programming and partnerships with the express goal on bridging the gap between the Collin College Campus Technical Center and major companies in Collin County that incorporate technology by creating degree plans and/or certifications creating the ideal candidate and to ensure direct job mobility. I also want to create AI (Artificial Intelligence)/Virtual Reality Immersive Learning Centers to enhance learning outcomes through creating an active learning experience. This technology and innovative approach to educational delivery can be used in many areas, including the STEM curriculum. It could even open the doors to new programming that would push Collin to the forefront in this area. Studies show that delivering course content via various forms of virtual use enhance student [engagement], retention and student success rates. The goal is to develop minds to meet the challenge of growing at the pace that technology is. According to Oxford University, 47 percent of jobs will become obsolete in the next 25 years due to technology development. We need to provide the Collin County workforce the skillset to run technology, not the other way around.
What else do you want voters to know about you?
My commitment to Collin County continues to burn strong and is driven by my belief that Collin College is a vital part of our communities. Our students demand a voice, and our community members deserve active representation. I bring a vast background that will ensure innovative programming, effective policies. My commitment also includes improving involvement of the business community, our nonprofits, and our dynamic community leaders.