May 25, 2021
Contact: Rafael Chávez
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Classified professionals from Contra Costa College, Irvine Valley College, Long Beach City College, Los Angeles Valley College and Yuba College have been honored with the 2021 Classified Employee of the Year Award by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors at its May 24 meeting.
“This year’s Classified Employee of the Year recipients have exhibited an unyielding commitment to students, to their colleges and to their profession during a profoundly difficult year impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the California Community Colleges is honored to recognize these heroes,” said Board of Governors President Pamela Haynes.
This year’s recipients are:
Silvia Gonzalez, Yuba College
Silvia Gonzalez is a veteran EOPS/CARE program specialist at Yuba College whose commitment to going above and beyond is reflected in a 75% persistence rate for EOPS students and an 88% persistence rate for CARE students. Gonzalez was cited for her dedication and passion in serving first-generation students, those from low-income households, single parents, current and former foster youth, disabled students and undocumented students. The EOPS/CARE population makes up more than 30% of Yuba College graduates annually. Students routinely nominate Gonzalez for the Yuba College Way to Go Award and why graduates often return or reach out to the college to thank her for where they are today.
Amy Hunter, Irvine Valley College
Amy Hunter is the embodiment of Irvine Valley College's mission to provide a well-rounded, quality educational experience. The senior administrative assistant in Business Sciences is involved in a number of initiatives, including Diversity Equity Inclusion training, Guided Pathways and Caring Campus, in addition to serving as Classified Senate President. She serves with the IVC Foundation as a board member and is actively involved in fundraising. Her dedication to leading by example is demonstrated in her leadership with the Caring Campus Initiative, where she recruited a large number of classified professionals to champion the initiative. Hunter’s efforts have been highlighted in statewide and national forums for the college's exemplary work in helping students stay on their educational paths.
Demetria Lawrence, Contra Costa College
Demetria Lawrence’s role as Contra Costa College’s Adult & Alternative Education Transition Specialist has her supporting the college’s most impacted students as they strive to reach their postsecondary and career goals. As a key player in the California Adult Education Program Consortium, Lawrence exemplifies the goals and commitments outlined in the Vision for Success. Colleagues and professionals at sister colleges consistently seek her out her expertise and voice of reason in matters related to data and accountability, successful engagement strategies and more. Lawrence is responsible for Contra Costa College’s ongoing participation in the Bay Area's Correction to College workgroup and she was nominated by the Adult Education Partners to participate in a District Attorney's initiative called Re-Envision Juvenile Justice.
Linda Olmos, Long Beach City College
As a specialist in the Long Beach City College Student Equity Office, Linda Olmos plays an instrumental role in the Long Beach City College Justice Scholars Program for the formerly incarcerated and students impacted by the criminal justice system. She also initiated a partnership with OC RESPITE to provide professional development opportunities, free of cost, to college staff and faculty on the importance of creating trauma-informed environments. Olmos also created Chisme in the Kitchen, a virtual cooking demonstration that shows students how to make healthy meals from the groceries they receive through the college’s Grab-N-Go food pantry. Olmos demonstrates leadership and commitment aligned with the essential needs of many of Long Beach City College’s most impacted student populations.
Alicen Vera, Los Angeles Valley College
Alicen Vera plays a critical role in supporting student success as the CalWORKs SFP Technician/Coordinator at Los Angeles Valley College. Her dedication leads to students developing personal, career and academic goals, transferring to four-year programs and embarking on careers that lead to financial stability. Vera for the past eight years also has volunteered on three fundraising events for Los Angeles Valley College homeless students, but her mentorship goes beyond assisting students; Vera also mentors and encourages CalWORKs staff to continue their educational and career paths. Her achievements as a mother of four, working full time, earning her master’s degree and volunteering in the community have inspired both staff and students.
The Classified Employee of the Year Award honors those who embody leadership, demonstrate the highest level of commitment to the Vision for Success, set an example of professional ethics and standards and are devoted to the mission of the California Community Colleges and their local community college district. Classified employees with a minimum of five years of service as a permanent employee are nominated by their colleagues and endorsed by their local board of trustees. They are then selected by representatives from the Board of Governors, the Consultation Council and the Chancellor's Office.
Each recipient of the Classified Employee of the Year Awards receives a $750 award and a commemorative plaque.
The California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in the nation, composed of 73 districts and 116 colleges serving 2.1 million students per year. California community colleges provide career education and workforce training; guaranteed transfer to four-year universities; degree and certificate pathways; and basic skills education in English and math. As the state’s engine for social and economic mobility, the California Community Colleges supports the Vision for Success, a strategic plan designed to improve student success outcomes, increase transfer rates and eliminate achievement gaps. For more information, please visit the California Community Colleges website or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.