Meet Esmeralda Sweeney, 2023 Hispanic Woman of Distinction & Associate Vice President of Student Success, Broward College
“Hispanic women are women of grit and strength. It is our sense of humor and our happy spirit that sets us apart from other women, and what makes us celebrate even the smallest of life’s miracles.”
Starting college can be scary for anyone. However, starting college when you only arrived in the United States from the Dominican Republic the year before and are still struggling with the language, must have been overwhelming for Esmeralda Sweeney. Fortunately, in her first week at Broward College’s Learning Center (nee Broward Community College/BCC), she quickly found not only a warm welcome and help from faculty members and staff, but also her life’s calling to be an educator.
In her position as Associate Vice President of Student Success, Esmeralda believes that educational opportunities need to be available to all no matter their socioeconomic status, race or academic past. She, therefore, has created or implemented a variety of innovative programs to continue to break down barriers that might impede a student’s success.
Working with others and receiving guidance from mentors is an essential part of a student achieving their academic goals. Providing students with a variety of achievement initiatives such as scholarships, mentor programs, access to more community resources are just some of the initiatives Esmeralda has developed to help more than 8,000 students since she started her position.
In addition to receiving her Associate’s degree at BCC, Esmeralda received her Bachelor in Psychology from Florida International University and her Masters in Human Relations and Business at Amberton University in Texas.
She also graduated from the highly elite National Community College Hispanic Council’s (NCCHC) Leadership Fellows Program under the direction of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). The program prepares future leaders through training and partnering participants with successful mentors. They also interact and develop relationships with other Hispanic educators and administrators nationwide.
But student success isn’t Esmeralda’s only goal. She co-founded Stronger Together: Sisterhood in the Workplace as part of the college’s Employee Resource Group (ERG). Members develop mentorships, hear from guest speakers and have access to a variety of community resources.
They also participate in giving back to the community through food drives, donations to women’s shelters, diaper drives for low-income mothers, children’s book collections and much more.
Esmeralda’s community involvement also includes serving as a board member for the FLITE Center (Fort Lauderdale Independence, Training & Education) to help youths who are aging out of foster care. She also is an alumni of Women Leading Broward.
The success of her programs has resulted in Esmeralda being invited to speak at numerous colleges and conferences. In 2022, she was nominated for the Broward College Compassionate Leadership Award.
Esmeralda and her husband, Mark Sweeney, who works in Information Technology have two children, Ryan and Kian. They enjoy visiting California, meeting with family and friends and savoring a good book.