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mission & history

left: campus photo; right: teacher and students collaborating

Mission, Vision, & Values

campus photo

Mission Statement

Cabrillo College empowers students to be effective communicators, critical thinkers, and responsible world citizens. With a commitment to quality and equity, we connect all learners to pathways that propel them from where they are to where they aspire to be, including: academic, personal, and career growth.

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Vision Statement

Cabrillo College improves the world, one student at a time.

Value Statements


We provide an excellent and safe learning environment that enhances a student’s experience in the accumulation of knowledge, the sharing of ideas and the celebration of achievement both within the classroom and throughout the college’s community of learners.

Student Focus

We commit to creating the best educational environment for students, providing quality programs and services that promote their diverse and evolving needs as they progress toward their individual educational goals.


We believe in the open exchange of ideas that is nurtured through respect, trust, and consideration of differences, demonstrated by our shared commitment to the mission of Cabrillo College.


We strive to hold each member of the Cabrillo community in esteem, based on the far-reaching potential of each individual, the diverse and often unrecognized journeys and achievements of each person, and the fundamental dignity of each human being.


Equity at Cabrillo College is the commitment to cultivate an inclusive teaching and learning environment by providing equitable support, access, and opportunities for success emphasizing historically underrepresented and emerging student populations.


old photo of Sesnon House at Cabrillo CollegeWe’ve come a long way since our first classes were held in temporary quarters within the partially abandoned old Watsonville High School. The year was 1959; freshman enrollment was about 400 students; and what was then known as Cabrillo Junior College was born.

The name “Cabrillo” held special significance. Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was a Portuguese ship pilot who, in 1542, led the first European expedition to explore the uncharted coast of California. While his sense of exploration and discovery applied to the New World, the Cabrillo founders hoped that students would undertake a similar searching for their own new world of personal achievement and leadership.

Over the years, Cabrillo College has become known and admired as an open-door institution that seeks to fill the educational needs of every segment of the community. Founding President Robert Swenson was most proud of Cabrillo earning a reputation as a college that cares about people. Upon his retirement, in 1977, he said, “I'm often told by students that they decided to come here because they know the faculty really cares what happens.” That sense of caring was modeled by Dr. Swenson throughout his long association with Cabrillo, which lasted until his passing in 2007. His presence is still felt around campus, and his passion for helping students be successful has become embedded within the Cabrillo culture.

Cabrillo College continues to evolve to meet the needs of the community, and the community has generously supported our expansions. We now offer associate degrees and certificates in more than 70 fields of study and have reached record enrollment of more than 17,000 students.

Learn more about the history of Cabrillo College by exploring our digital archives.


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