(Santa Ana, Calif.) – With a unanimous vote, the Santa Ana College (SAC) Foundation Board of Directors appointed successful Santa Ana restaurateur and entrepreneur Sam Ruiz as its newest member. The 25-member SAC Foundation Board of Directors oversees the nonprofit organization, whose mission is to maintain, expand, and enhance educational opportunities at the college and raise philanthropic and privately funded resources for SAC's students and programs.
“As a local who relates with many of our students' cultural and life experiences, Sam Ruiz understands SAC's immense role in the community," said SAC President Dr. Annebelle Nery. “His grit, competence, and strong cultural influence across Orange County and in downtown Santa Ana's food and restaurant revolution make him a valuable asset to our Foundation's Board of Directors and our community. We admire his entrepreneurial spirit and unwavering commitment to elevating SAC's associate degree pathway and certificate programs. We look forward to his guidance to further support our Culinary Arts program and any entrepreneurial classes to come."
Kristin Crellin, president of the SAC Foundation Board of Directors, said Ruiz's passion for helping his local community in downtown Santa Ana flourish is central to the philanthropic work of the board. She said as a local small business owner in the city of Santa Ana and other locations across Southern California, Ruiz understands that people are the heart of the community and uses his businesses to showcase his culture.
“Sam Ruiz will be a great addition to the Board," Crellin said. “He is an earnest example of someone who received an education at a California community college and drew from his passion, courage and skills to build multiple successful businesses. We welcome his deep understanding of the local economic and business landscape of our community. His care for our students, real-life experience and industry knowledge are valuable to elevating SAC's future career technical programs."
Ruiz said he looks forward to serving on the board.
“I am passionate about helping students who may have goals to become entrepreneurs and business owners," Ruiz said. “I understand that each student may have different life and familial responsibilities that can make their studies challenging. But I also believe that our lived experiences are lessons that make us creative and successful in our own way, especially with the availability of support from SAC's resources."
Born and raised in Mexico City until the age of eight, Ruiz and his family immigrated to Orange County, California, where he attended Monroe Elementary, MacArthur Fundamental School, Fountain Valley High School and then Orange Coast College for two years, where he and his team won the 2010 Speech and Debate Nationals. With dreams of becoming a law student, he was accepted into George Mason University. However, upon the unexpected passing of his father, Ruiz said he decided to stay in Orange County to help support his mother and family. At age 20, he co-founded his first restaurant, Euro Caffé, with his now-wife and sister-in-law, which has two locations in the cities of Santa Ana and Orange.
Ruiz owns the local favorite in the historic Latino corridor of downtown Santa Ana, Café Cultura, a culinary dining experience connecting people to Mexican traditions, food and culture. Altogether, he has helped open 12 restaurants through his consulting and expertise and plans to expand his businesses to the Los Angeles region and continue to make a positive impact on the community through food service.
Ruiz said he was thrilled to learn about the creation of the SAC Café, a student-run venture by SAC Auxiliary Services and Culinary Arts students, where students make business and operational decisions regarding the menu, recipes, costs and more. Ruiz said he is excited to raise greater awareness, resources and support for these programs to help students achieve success in the food industry. He added that with SAC being a Hispanic Serving Institution, he hopes to continue spreading love and awareness for his culture and revolutionize Mexican American cuisine.
To learn more about the Santa Ana College Foundation work and its Raising the Game campaign, please visit www.RTGcampaign.org.
At Santa Ana College, classes start every eight weeks, to learn more, visit www.sac.edu. Questions about this press release can be directed to Dalilah Davaloz, public information officer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Santa Ana College
Santa Ana College (SAC), founded in 1915, serves more than 54,600 students yearly. At present, SAC students can work toward completing an associate degree, university transfer, career/workforce training or a bachelor's degree in occupational studies. As part of Santa Ana College, the School of Continuing Education located at Centennial Education Center offers free classes throughout the community for adults of all ages and academic backgrounds. Santa Ana College is an award-winning college and was recently ranked as one of the nation's top two-year colleges awarding associate degrees to Latino and Asian students and named one of the best community colleges in California by Intelligent.com. The college is also recognized throughout the state for its comprehensive workforce training programs for nurses, firefighters, law enforcement and medical personnel. Santa Ana College is one of two comprehensive colleges under the auspices of the Rancho Santiago Community College District.