Settling in: New vice president of Student Services

Martha McDonald, Ed.D., has been a role model to Citrus students for more than 10 years and is the epitome of the American Dream.
McDonald has been selected to serve as official vice president of student services at Citrus College.  “My strong and hard work is what brought me to this level,” McDonald said. “I have always taken advantage of every opportunity given to me.”
Despite coming from a self-described, harsh and humbling background, McDonald managed to raise herself up by her own bootstraps to find success at Citrus.
She was born in Mexicali, Mexico and attended first through third grade in Guadalajara before moving to the United States where as an immigrant she faced difficulties overcoming language barriers.
She grew up in Santa Ana and graduated from Santa Ana High school, where her mother taught her to follow her dreams.
Her mother, McDonald’s biggest influence, worked day and night to help to support their family and encouraged McDonald that education is the key to breaking up the poverty cycle that her family lived in.
“She was a strong believer in education because she was not able to obtain an education,” McDonald said.
McDonald was the first of her family to attend college and was accepted  into California State University Fullerton.
As a first generation college student, she encountered many obstacles like working a full time job  and getting  little financial support from her family in pursuing her bachelor’s degree, so she joined the United States Marine Corps instead of completing her degree.
She was on active duty for the Marine Corps for about eight years and then moved on to serve in the military for about five years.
Being a Marine proved to be a trial for her physically, mentally and most of all culturally.
As a woman who was raised in traditional Hispanic family the decision to serve in the military was controversial.
McDonald eventually became the first female instructor to teach physical security, anti-terrorist measures and arms weaponry at Marine Corps Security Forces School.
Her dream of pursuing higher education did not diminish, and McDonald knew that she was going to be successful one day. McDonald continued working on her education while serving in the Marine Corps and took night classes at a community college in Havelock, North Carolina to complete her education.
“Education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty,” McDonald said. McDonald received her psychology from Chapman University, where she continued to work as an assistant director while earning her M.A. degree in counseling.
McDonald returned to CSU Fullerton to earn her doctorate in education.
After receiving her master’s degree, she worked at Fullerton College as the coordinating operations and services manager for The EOP&S and CARE programs.
In 2004 McDonald was appointed director of EOP&S, CARE and CalWORKS at Citrus College.
In 2007, she was appointed dean of students and managed student affairs programs such as Student Life, Leadership Development, Student Discipline, Athletic Eligibility, School Relations and Outreach, Campus Safety, Cafeteria, Student Health Center and the Veteran Success Center.
One of McDonald’s most memorable moments was the opening of the Veterans Center.
“I was happy to see students grow,” said McDonald, who had put a lot of effort into growing the veterans program. After working with McDonald for three years, Arvid Spor, Ed.D., vice president of academic affairs, noticed that she did an excellent job of working with a wide variety of programs prior to her position as dean of student of affairs.
Spor believes McDonald’s military background was a major advantage in dealing with the stress levels that typically comeswith handling campus safety and discipline.
“She was very professional that was one of the characteristics that I admired about her,” Spor said.
In 2013, she was selected as interim executive dean to directly support Spor in his official position as vice president of academic affairs and interim vice president of Student Services.
Spor admires McDonald’s ability to see ‘the bigger picture’ when working on important tasks such as accreditation, working closely with counselors and managers on program reviews and educational facilities master plan issues.
“I enjoy working at Citrus College  because a lot of the students that I meet here are students with similar backgrounds like mine,” McDonald said. “That is the beauty of community college.”
Dana Hester, Ed.D., dean of social and behavioral sciences and McDonald’s close friend, said she has a serious demeanor for discipline but shows a lot of empathy.
Her previous administrative assistant in the office of student affairs, Terilyn Shamhart, who worked with McDonald for about eight years, describes her as very organized and a business first professional that understands the mission of Citrus.
“She is a sweet lady with a hidden sense of humor,” Shamhart said.
McDonald strives to serve as a role model for her family, children and siblings.
She is happy that her children are obtaining higher education and developing careers and dedicates most of her free time to being involved in her four children’s activities.
She is proud to have accomplished getting an education and being successful when it seemed almost impossible.
Her most important priorities are to be strong and to keep her commitment to the college’s mission.
“[McDonald] is dedicated to student success and providing exceptional student service,” Shamhart said. “She is a team player on projects and puts in long hours to see a task to completion.”
McDonald hopes to work with programs and identify gaps to help students complete their educational goals.
She plans to come up with new interventions, ideas and initiations to help students move up to the next level.
“It will be an easy transition for her,” Spor said. “I look forward to working with her further.”