President's Message - National Hispanic Heritage Monthby Dr. Pedro Avila on Sep 15, 2022
As a Hispanic Serving Institution, designated by the Department of Education, and after almost two years of absence, this year Gavilan Joint Community College District is excited to kick-off National Hispanic Heritage Month, starting today, Thursday, September 15, running until October 15. We have some great activities planned for our campus, so please check our events list on our main website, as well as our social media.
National Hispanic Heritage Month has its inception under President, Lyndon Johnson, in 1968. Back then it was only celebrated for a week. However, it was under the Reagan Administration that the acknowledgement and celebration of this important population was expanded to an entire month. On August 17, 1988, Hispanic Heritage Month was enacted into law, on approval of Public Law 100-402.
As one of the fastest growing demographics in the United States (last 2020 census showed 23% growth), Hispanics, Latinas/os, Latinx, have made enormous contributions to the success of this country for over 400 years. Currently, the population in the US is 62.1 million. At Gavilan College, 61% of our students are of Latinx descent.
Missing from these national statistics are the millions of undocumented families who day in and out work multiple jobs, taking on essential jobs, like farm work, dishwashing, yard work, cleaning, and so many more, while contributing an estimated 11 billion dollars in annual taxes to the economy. I am proud to announce that Gavilan College has moved forward with hiring the first Undocumented Student Liaison to serve this vulnerable population. As an UndocuAlly institution, we will continue to protect and make strides for our undocumented students.
Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting with former Award Winning Gavilan Football Coach, Bob Garcia, father of Football legend, former 49’er, and Gavilan Alum, Jeff Garcia. Many people do not know this about him, but his family is from San Juan de Los Lagos, Jalisco, the same state in Mexico my family and I are from.
Coach Garcia’s family came over the border, first to Southern California in the late 1920’s, as a result of the War of Cristeros in Mexico, and eventually made their way up to this area in the 1940’s. As a young boy he and his family worked as farmers in Hollister, also living there, along Route 25. Shortly after arriving, his father left, abandoning the family. This was a very traumatic event. However, his mother persevered, and in 1942 his mother was named #1 strawberry farmer in the area. You can listen to Coach Garcia’s interview on his life and career HERE.
Like Coach Garcia, our Latinx students come from humble beginnings, but are extremely hardworking, intelligent, strong, resilient, and capable of great achievement and success. Here at Gavilan College, we also celebrate the diversity within our own Latinx populations, especially acknowledging our Afro Latinos.
On this day, September 15, numerous countries in Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua) and Mexico finally declared their independence from imperial and colonial Spain. Be proud of your roots, where you come from, your native language and culture. We are here to celebrate and support you!
Be on the lookout for a link to be able to tell your unique #IamGavilan story.
Happy Hispanic Heritage Month Gavilan! We are stronger together! ¡La unión hace la fuerza!
Dr. Pedro Avila