July 9 2004

Southwestern College Honors Victims of 1984 McDonald’s Tragedy

CHULA VISTA — The Southwestern College (SWC) Education Center at San Ysidro and the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce will be honoring the victims of the 1984 McDonald’s tragedy with a memorial event. The event will take place Thursday, July 15, 2004 at 11:00 at 460 West San Ysidro Blvd. in San Ysidro. The general public is invited to attend.

On July 18, 1984, a gunman entered the McDonald’s restaurant and started firing, killing 21 people, mostly children.

During the memorial event, College and community leaders will speak about the tragedy and highlight the community’s commitment to transform tragedy into triumph. The event will include a special performance by the SWC choir, student poetry readings, and an opportunity to visit the living memorial built at the site in honor of the victims.

“This is a very important event because it gives the community an opportunity to come together during this difficult time,” said Dr. Angélica Suárez, Dean of SWC’s Education Center at San Ysidro. “At the same time, we want to remind the community that the Center is a lasting tribute to those who perished 20 years ago. It is also a place where bright futures have their beginnings for nearly 4,000 students every year.”

Out of respect for the memory of the victims, McDonald’s demolished the restaurant and turned the land over to the City of San Diego. Immediately, San Ysidro residents joined SWC officials in their efforts to acquire the land and bring higher education closer to their community. They were successful and in the fall of 1988 the Southwestern College Education Center at San Ysidro (SCEC, SY) was born. Two years later, College officials and civic leaders again joined forces and solicited donations to build a memorial in honor of those killed. The San Ysidro Memorial was built in front of the SWC Education Center and was officially dedicated in December of 1990.

A satellite campus of Southwestern College, one of the primary goals of the Education Center is to provide educational opportunities for residents and businesses in a geographically convenient location. Today, it offers approximately 135 sections each semester and is a place where nearly 2,000 students pursue their educational goals in search of a brighter future.

“The Education Center brought higher education closer to the San Ysidro community,” said Norma L. Hernández, Superintendent/President for Southwestern College. “It’s wonderful to see so many people taking advantage of the programs and services the Center offers.”

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