UAV Co-Founder Sandra Johnson Appointed to Lancaster City Council
On September 27th, the Lancaster City Council appointed Sandra Johnson to the open City Council seat vacated by Sherry Marquez last month. During the meeting, Mayor R. Rex Parris considered three highly-qualified candidates for the position, and ultimately nominated Johnson before the Council.
“Sandra Johnson is the type of person great communities consist of.” stated Mayor Parris. “Her drive towards excellence, passion for education, proven business acumen, and ability to relate to the struggles so many people are experiencing today, equip her with a resolute determination to help others and give back to the community her family calls home.”
Currently CEO and co-founder of the University of Antelope Valley (UAV), the then Sandra Volta immigrated to Lancaster from Chile in 1970. Facing numerous obstacles as she assimilated into American culture in the first grade; Sandra spoke very little English, and grew up in a tough neighborhood with minimalistic living conditions. Her family received government assistance as needed to survive. However, instead of allowing her circumstances to dictate her future, Sandra became determined to make a difference in her life and the lives of others through education.
“My childhood was far from picture-perfect. Not only do I know what it is like to be without, but I also understand how hard it is to be in an unfamiliar place where you are the outsider and your resources are extremely limited,” said Mrs. Johnson. “I believe every personal struggle is an opportunity for growth, and anyone who has the ability to survive, also has the ability to further develop themselves and their community. I am living proof of this, and it is my life’s goal to help others realize all of their potential, as well.”
Sandra and her husband, Marco Johnson, transformed their small CPR company into the now nationally accredited University of Antelope Valley educational institution, which spans three campuses and boasts an enrollment of more than 1,000 students.
UAV offers educational curricula which supports achievements ranging from a variety of master’s-level degrees to career-specific certificates. The University also offers an athletics program and employs more than 100 local residents.
“Sandra is ideal for this position because she is an example of what is possible, regardless of circumstance,” said Mayor Parris. “Sandra has been a visionary since she first set foot in this town as a small child, and she has consistently pushed for the advancement of all citizens. She and Marco have put a tremendous amount of hard work into this community, deeply engaging themselves with local charities, family shelters, outreach efforts and entrepreneurial mentoring. They have achieved so much, and yet continue to grow and expand their offering and influence throughout the community, all while raising a thriving family and building relationships of trust, respect and admiration.”
Sandra and her husband Marco were jointly recognized in 2009 with the City of Lancaster’s Citizens of the Year Award. The couple recently launched the Smart Hire Program, which provides incentives for employers to hire UAV graduates into certificate- and degree-related positions; an effort to boost the local economy and encourage a national trend.
“My question to the individuals of our community is what are you doing to make a difference?” Sandra shared. “Are you bettering yourself? Are you helping others? Are you taking action to improve, support and uplift your community? Change doesn’t happen without effort, and great communities are built and sustained, not inherited. So, I ask again, what are you doing to make a difference?”
Sandra’s top priority as a councilmember is to address the concerns and challenges which face the City, its residents, and their children. She believes her childhood experience, along with raising a family and running her own business, will give her insight to the struggles, hopes and goals of Lancaster residents.
Sandra is the mother of two wonderful children, Devion and Tiffany. She is a California State certified paralegal with degree's from Antelope Valley College and Watterson College, and a Bachelor of Science in Bussiness Administation from Aspen University. A formally-trained dancer and former instructor, Sandra’s passion for the arts, music, and dance are sure to translate into future artistic endeavors for the community.
Sandra Johnson was officially sworn in at the October 11th Lancaster City Council meeting.