San Benito LULAC Welcomes Dr. Avilaby Rosie Zepeda on Jul 29, 2022
On Thursday, July 29 San Benito LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens), Council 2890 and Latino Coalition warmly welcomed Dr. Pedro Avila and his wife Jeanette, at a private reception in Hollister’s downtown Epicenter Building.
Serving as Emcee was Mr. Mike Sanchez, former Superintendent of Schools for San Benito County. Mr. Sanchez is also known for having been “the voice” at the Benito High School Football games. With much wit and laughter, he got the program started.
Vice President for SB LULAC, Shirley Trevino, welcomed Dr. Avila to San Benito County, and on behalf of the planning committee and LULAC Board, expressed the excitement and pride to have Dr. Avila as the first Latino President at Gavilan Joint Community College District.
Gavilan’s Trustee member and LULAC member, Ms. Rachel Perez, provided the district’s process and her own personal reasons for selecting Dr. Avila:
“As you know selecting a President is a process. It involves all the constituent groups at the college, the Board and community members. It was obvious he had the right credentials, but what really stood out for me was his extensive professional experience and years he served as Vice President of Student Services. That indicated to me he was invested in understanding student needs. The second thing that stood out to me was that he understood budgets and data, as how they tied back to student outcomes. Finally, I was impressed by his down to earth demeanor.”
Trustee Perez proceeded to ask everyone to join her in welcoming Dr. Avila, his wife Jeanette, and take the microphone to say a few words:
“I want to thank the LULAC planning committee and entire Board for putting this event together. It means a lot to me and my family. I want to also thank the most important person in my life, who has been part of my career journey in education since we met during our first year at Fresno State, and that is my wife, Jeanette. We have two young daughters, and this weekend we will be moving from Santa Rosa to Gilroy. There is a lot of work to be done, but we are all in. My family is all in!”
LULAC members then showered Dr. Avila and his wife Jeanette with many gifts. The first gift was a handmade flower bouquet for their new home. Then came presents for their two daughters, followed by a windmill and home decorations reading “Remember Your Roots.”
Shirley Trevino made a special presentation of the UFW flag to Dr. Avila, who became teary eyed and shared: “As you all know my family and I worked the fields of Castroville, but you might not know is that my father was a labor organizer with the UFW, so this means so much to me. Thank you.”
The showering of gifts at the event came full circle when Dr. Shawn Tennenbaum, Superintendent for Hollister High Schools, presented Dr. Avila with a sweatshirt reading “Hollister Haybalers” and a warm blanket “for those chilly Gilroy nights.” The room erupted in applause and laughter. Dr. Tennenbaum added:
“On behalf of our Board of Trustees we look forward to working with you. You mentioned support, your success equals our students’ success. The greater success you have, the greater success for our students.”
Emcee Mike Sanchez finished the formal part of the program by saying:
“I know I stand between everyone savoring the great dinner prepared for tonight, but I want to finish with an ask. Everyone here, please put your business card in the bowl at the front, please do not leave without introducing yourself to him. I know that after this I am going to go home and call everyone I know to tell them about Dr. Pedro Avila and Gavilan College. I ask each and everyone here to do the same.”
Dr. Avila’s top priority will be learning the culture and processes of the college. He plans to spend his first six months meeting employees, students, and community members to create unity and trust.