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News Release

January 4, 2024

Endowment Created to Honor Michele Jenkins

The College of the Canyons Foundation has created an endowment fund in honor of Michele Jenkins, who passed away on February 6, 2023, after nearly 40 years of service as a COC Board of Trustees member.

The Michele R. Jenkins Leadership Endowment will support Bridging the Canyons, the Michele R. Jenkins Scholarship, and faculty development at the college. 

“Michele’s unwavering dedication and passion for everything College of the Canyons was inspiring and steadying,” said Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook. “Her absence from our lives continues to be deeply felt throughout the campus community. I find comfort in knowing that her hard work, spirit, care for others and love of education will character her and her legacy will live on at COC through her namesake endowment fund."

The endowment will fund Bridging the Canyons, which will help alleviate financial stress that may prevent students from pursuing their education.  Funds will be granted under the direction of the college’s Director for the Basic Needs Center (BaNC) in consultation with the Assistant Superintendent/Vice President for Student Services.

“College of the Canyons meant so much to my wife,” said Dr. Gregory Jenkins. “I would like to thank the COC Foundation for honoring her memory in such a profound and impactful way.”

In addition, the Michele R. Jenkins Scholarship will provide an annual scholarship for current students who are enrolled full-time at COC, demonstrate financial need, have a minimum GPA of 2.50, and demonstrate leadership and community service participation. 

“My mom credited my parents’ success to COC,” said Lorian Jenkins. “Without COC she was adamant that my dad and her would not have been able to be young parents and college students, ultimately leading to successful careers and a wonderful life. She was incredibly proud to be a COC alumna, and humbly honored to be the longest elected COC board member. She would be so happy to know that she will continue making a difference in the lives of COC students so that they can reach their goals.”

Faculty Development will support the Scholarly Presentation and/or other faculty development opportunities under the direction of the Assistant Superintendent/Vice President for Instruction.  

About Michele Jenkins

Born on January 24, 1951, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Jenkins was the daughter of Pearl and Harold Miller and the oldest of four children. Growing up, she was a natural born caregiver, she helped looked after her younger siblings. 

After relocating to San Jose when she was three months old, her family moved to the San Fernando Valley and then up again to Santa Clarita Valley. A resident of Santa Clarita since 1964, Jenkins would call the valley home for most of her life.  In 1966, as a junior at William S. Hart High School, she attended a school football game where she met a boy named Gregory "Dean" Jenkins. They were the love of each other's lives.

As a young mom, Jenkins grew up quickly, ambitious with her plans and tireless in her pursuits. She juggled childcare with her academic studies, managing to approach it all with the utmost attentiveness, passion, and joy. After earning an associate degree from COC, she went on to graduate from UCLA with a B.A. in cultural anthropology and the University of North Dakota with a master's in counseling psychology. Fifteen years after their son Gregory Jr. was born, and once they had moved their family back home to Santa Clarita, Michele and Greg welcomed their daughter Lorian into the world.

Jenkins served on the SCV District Board of Trustees for 39 years, but she was more than a board or committee member; she was a staunch advocate, enthusiastic champion, and trusted friend. She made sure to be involved in the college's celebrations, sports teams, and even its opening day production of "Grease," which featured her as a guest star. She contributed to student scholarship funds and was known to pay for students' books to help alleviate any financial stress associated with attending college.

She cared deeply for students and was passionate about encouraging people to pursue an education. She believed in the potential of people in situations and invested her time and energy to make sure she contributed to the lives of the people with whom she cared about and the places with which she associated.

Jenkins passed away on February 6, 2023, in Newhall, California, at the age of 72. She is survived by her husband of 54 years, Greg; daughter Lorian, son-in-law Andre, and granddaughter Lyra de Oliveira; daughter-in-law Jennifer and grandchildren Mary Jane and Lucas Jenkins; brother Russell Miller and his children; sister Candace and brother-in-law Arnie Rios, and their children; and brother Edmond and sister-in-law Marta Miller. She was preceded in death by her son Gregory Jr. in 2019, and her parents Harold and Pearl Miller.

Donate to the Michele R. Jenkins Leadership Endowment