Gavilan College bestows Legacy Award to Elvira Zaragoza Robinsonby Jan Janes on Apr 7, 2021
On a sunny, early spring afternoon, Gavilan College Superintendent/President Kathleen Rose presented the 2021 President’s Circle Legacy Award to community activist Elvira Zaragoza Robinson.
Elvira Zaragoza Robinson received the
2021 President's Circle Legacy Award.
“This Legacy Award is presented, with thanks, in recognition of her lifetime commitment and dedication to the students of Gavilan College,” said Dr. Rose.
In her remarks, Dr. Rose recalled Zaragoza Robinson’s questions during her own employee interview for vice president more than 10 years ago. What are you going to do for the community if you come to Gavilan College? How are you connected to the community? How can you contribute to our community here, in a special way going forward?
“I remember leaving, that day, thinking, ‘This is a college that truly cares about its community,’” said Dr. Rose, “In a way where it is front and center to everything that they do.”
Zaragoza Robinson served as an elected member of Gavilan College Board of Trustees from 1990-2010, where she worked to establish the Latino Advisory Committee. She was also elected to the State Community College Board and organized the State Latino Community College Trustee Organization.
Trustee Irma Gonzalez, Dr. Kathleen Rose, Elvira Zaragoza Robinson and Trustee Jeanie
Wallace in the gazebo during the presentation of the President's Circle Legacy Award.
She graduated from San José State College and Santa Clara University Law School, served as the first Latina Deputy District Attorney in Santa Clara County for 12 years, then established her law practice in San Benito County. She has been a leader in community organizations and events, including LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens), La Raza Lawyers Association, El Teatro Campesino, Hazel Hawkins Hospital and Hollister Youth Alliance.
In 2019 Zaragoza Robinson founded the Leadership Workshop for young people at Gavilan College, working with Pastor G.E. Harris and Rolanda Pierre Dixon.
When the college was in preparatory stages to go out for a bond, she was one of the first people Dr. Rose approached for support.
“I knew how important it would be to talk with everyone in our district about the importance of the bond,” said Dr. Rose. “But particularly San Benito County.”
Zaragoza Robinson actively supported the passage of Measure X and currently serves on the Citizens Oversight Committee.
Gavilan College Trustees Jeanie Wallace and Irma Gonzalez also offered remarks.
“What I have observed, watching from afar for 25 years,” said Jeanie Wallace, “Is your name comes up in all kinds of contexts. You are always there, stepping up, volunteering, leading and making things happen with a service mentality.”
“I have just always been so admiring of you,” she continued. “Thank you for everything you have done.”
Trustee Gonzalez noted Zaragoza Robinson’s focus on youth. “Our youngsters are our future, and she recognizes that,” she said. “Knowing we can shape them into giving back to the community the way she has given back.”
Gonzalez noted her unflagging encouragement and support. “She tells everyone, ‘This is what we need to do, and I believe in you, and you can do it.’”
Zaragoza Robinson accepted the award, saying, “I am humbled and proudly accept it for myself, for my community, and for the young people I represent.”
“I try to instill in young people that you can reach your dream, it just takes a lot of work,” she said.
“I have been involved in politics for many years,” Zaragoza Robinson said. “Instead of running for the State Assembly or Board of Supervisors, I chose education. Because education changes lives, and it gives hope to our young people.”
“It is so important to my county to get our college built,” she continued. “I was on the Board of Trustees when we purchased the property, and I’m blessed to be on the committee to see the groundbreaking. Thank you so much! I’m here to stay.”