gmhTODAY 08 gmhToday May June 2016 - Page 12

Steve Kinsella Making Gavilan Great Written By Robin Shepherd L ike many parents, education fell off my radar after writing that last college tuition check and watching my youngest toss his cap in the air on graduation day. My attitude changed in the spring of 2014 when Dr. Steven Kinsella, President and Superintendent of Gavilan College, addressed my Leadership Morgan Hill class for our “Education Day” program. Steve strode into the meeting room with a warm smile, stopping to greet and shake hands with me and my classmates as he made his way to the speaker’s table. In his presentation, Steve let the facts speak for themselves. South County has a growing need to provide relevant and affordable post-secondary education and training opportunities, and Gavilan Joint Community College district is meeting this need. After a long and distinguished career in education, it’s safe to say Steve “has arrived.” His is a remarkable journey, from working student, to teacher, to administrator and leader in the California community college system. On the eve of his retirement, Steve took time out to share his story with TODAY . gmh The Kid from Connecticut As a high school senior, Steve had no real prospects for college. He’d grown up in a small Connecticut town where the Marine Corps had a strong presence, and his older brother had already joined the military. It seemed like a logical path to follow, and he wanted to see the world. In 1975, Steve’s last year of high school, he enlisted. Ten 12 days after graduation he was in uniform. Based on some proficiency tests dur- ing bootcamp, Steve was assigned to a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) in bookkeeping. It wasn’t quite how he had envisioned life in the military, but the Marine Corps emphasized education, and Steve was hungry to learn. “Suddenly there I was, taking accounting classes for college credit, and I got hooked,” Steve said. During the latter half of the 1970s, Steve was stationed in Hawaii. His off-duty hours were spent working as a part-time security guard and earning his B.A. degree in Accounting from Hawaii Pacific University. In Hawaii he also met and married his wife Linda, a native of Hong Kong who grew up in the islands. “We were young when we met but I could see right away that Steve was very dedicated to the Marines and to bettering himself,” Linda said. “He’s a very serious man but has a fun-loving side too.” Soldier, Student and Family Man During the 1980s, Steve was stationed at Marine bases in North Carolina, Southern California and Virginia. Time was split between his duties as an auditor for the Marine Corps, earning an MBA degree, get- ting his CPA license, and raising a family. Steve transferred to the Marine Corps Reserve in 1989. He had been assigned to a new MOS as a combat engineer. Then came the Gulf War. In 1990, his unit was called to active duty and deployed to the Middle East for a six-month tour. “Our unit provided fuel and