Gavilan College bestows honorary degree to district community activist Theresa Kiernanby Jan Janes on May 10, 2021
On a breezy May afternoon, Gavilan College Superintendent/President Kathleen Rose and three members of the Board of Trustees met to confer an honorary Associate of Arts degree to Theresa Kiernan.
“I am so pleased to introduce you to Theresa Kiernan and her contributions to the communities served by Gavilan College,” said Dr. Rose to the small group gathered at the college gazebo. “She has an incredible history of service and advocacy, and has worked in several nonprofit positions over the years.”
Theresa Kiernan, with diploma, is joined by Gavilan College Board of Trustees
(l-r) Patricia Mondragón, Laura Perry and Edwin Diaz.
Kiernan’s volunteer activities and memberships include San Juan Bautista and Morgan Hill Rotary Clubs, the YMCA of San Benito County and Mt. Madonna, Community Solutions, and most recently as a volunteer lead at the Morgan Hill School District and City of Morgan Hill pop-up vaccine clinics.
“In fact,” said Dr. Rose, “She was there when I arrived for my first shot, checking in each person and ensuring they were ready for the vaccine.”
Each year at Commencement, the Board of Trustees selects an individual who has made significant contributions that benefit the students of Gavilan College. Kiernan was selected for the award in 2020, and the pandemic forced a cancellation of last year’s in-person graduation ceremony. The 2021 ceremony, which will be held virtually, will include Dr. Rose’s recorded remarks and bestowal of the degree.
Kiernan’s community involvement is legend. According to one community member, “Community service is not something Theresa does, it is who she is. Being of service to others is baked into her DNA.”
Described by other community members as fun and full of energy, she is often the first to volunteer, and the last to leave. Others seek her wise counsel, coaching, honest feedback and cheerleading. Her consulting firm, TK & Associates, provides professional development training.
As a long-time supporter of Community Solutions, she volunteers on the fund raising committee for the three hosted events each year, taking the onsite lead role. Previously she served as Executive Director of the San Benito Chamber of Commerce. Relocating to Morgan Hill, she worked for the Downtown Association and later as a Program Facilitator for Leadership Morgan Hill.
In receiving the award, Kiernan thanked the president and trustees for the recognition. In the video to be included in the virtual 2021 Commencement, she spoke directly to the students about volunteerism. “Do whatever you can,” Kiernan said. “Nothing you do is too small, it all benefits the community.”
Kiernan also thanked the Trustees for their attendance at the ceremony, citing the honor of having them join her at the event.
“Because of her dedication to the community and demonstrated support of community college education,” said Dr. Rose, “Gavilan College is proud to present Theresa Kiernan with an Honorary Associate of Arts Degree."