Alumni Guest Series

Alumni Spotlight: Robert Tagorda

This month’s spotlight features Robert Tagorda (The Broad Residency 2006-2008), Executive Director of Equity, Access, and College and Career Readiness for Long Beach Unified School District.

What initiative are you currently working on?

I’m leading the Long Beach Unified School District’s (LBUSD) college and career readiness initiative, which I’ve been dedicated to since I started as a Broad Resident 13 years ago. It encompasses over $40 million worth of programs that strive to eliminate financial and other barriers to postsecondary opportunities, including free Advanced Placement exams, free SAT preparatory classes and free college-level courses from higher-education partner institutions. There are services available for every one of our 72,000+ students from elementary through high schools, with our neediest families receiving the most support.

What is the most exciting potential outcome of this initiative?

This coming school year, LBUSD is poised to see the highest college-readiness rate in its history. Our graduates have their tuitions covered at the local community college with a clear path to transfer to the local four-year university, if they so choose. It’s exciting to know that students have such postsecondary opportunities in their own backyard.

What is your vision for your organization in the next five years?

Sustainability has been a motivating factor in my work. I’m driven to ensure that innovative ideas and promising practices take root and become institutionalized. While I’m proud of the fact that the college and career readiness initiative has already thrived through good times and bad times, I know that there are imminent fiscal challenges ahead. There’s a three-year budget in place to help us weather the storm. My vision is to create even more postsecondary opportunities for students, no matter what the circumstances may be.

What inspires you to do this work?

Among the first programs we established over a decade ago were college visits for every fourth- and fifth-grader in the district. The intent was to create a unifying experience that promoted a college-going culture from an early age. Those elementary students are now embarking on their higher-education journeys, and I’m inspired by the commitments that they’ve made to themselves, their families and their communities.

What is the last education-related book you read?

David Epstein’s Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World contains many nuggets of wisdom about what it takes to succeed in a dynamic world – nearly all of which are applicable to education.

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