On Friday, October 23 MJC counselor Ariana Gonzalez, was one of four local Latino leaders honored by Representative Josh Harder’s (CA 10) first Annual 2020 Latino Leadership Award ceremony, in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Ariana is a passionate advocate for first generation and immigrant students in the Central Valley. In addition to her work as a counselor at MJC, Ariana is President of Latina Leadership Network, Chair of the UndocuALLY Network, and co-founded MJC LGBTQ+ Advocates.
Ariana’s leadership led MJC to develop access to free legal services through a partnership with the United Farmworkers Foundation Immigration Services, one of the most successful free immigration services programs for students in the state. She also leads the annual Raza graduation for Latinx students and their families to have a ceremony in Spanish that celebrates their culture.
Ariana accepted her plaque and followed with the below speech:
"Today I was one of 4 people who received a Certificate of Congressional Recognition for my contribution to our community, Congressman Josh Harder’s Inaugural 2020 Central Valley Latino Leadership Award. I’m grateful to be able to serve and tonight’s honor was more meaningful because it was based on nominations from the community. I dedicate this honor to my parents Marta and Jose Luis who instilled in me the value of standing up for what is right even if it’s not easy or popular.
‘Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres (tell me who you hang out with and I will tell you who you are),’ is an expression my Grandma Pipi often sang to us growing up. Today’s leadership recognition is really for a team of people who work collaboratively.
Thank you to Community College Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley for his brave leadership in advocating for our Immigrant Community. To our community partners at the United Farm Worker Foundation: Paloma Contreras and Sofia Corona who provide free immigration legal services to MJC students and employees; to our partners Abraham Bedoy and Allison Davenport at the Immigrant Legal Resources Center who organize and connect students to experts across the state. Thank you to my colleagues at MJC who have created innovative ways to keep the college doors open in a virtual space and continue to inspire hope during these very challenging times. Social justice is reached through social action. In our work through the Latina Leadership Network, MJC Undocually, and the LGBTQ+ Advocates, we are committed to dismantling systems of inequality, imagining possibilities and working to help students reach their full potential through education.
Que vivan los que luchan por la justicia! (Long live those who fight for justice!)
Congratulations ‘luchadoras’ Yamilet Valladolid and Polet!”
The other local Latino leaders honored included: Yamilet Valladolid of Golden Valley Health Centers and Marvin Jacobo of City Ministry Network. Rep. Harder also awarded a “Rising Latino Leader” award to Polet Hernandez, Dreamers Project Coordinator at Stanislaus State.