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March 30, 2021

College Honors Seven Students, Medina
During Annual Cesar Chavez Celebration


Moreno Valley College honored Assemblymember Jose Medina with the César E. Chávez Legacy Award and awarded seven students, four of them high school students, with scholarships during the César E. Chávez Scholarship Ceremony.

Medina, a former Poly High School instructor and Riverside Community College District Board member, was elected to the California Assembly in November of 2012. He served three terms on the RCCD Board of Trustees and was a member on the board of the Jurupa Unified School District. Since taking office, Medina has worked to ensure the region has a well-educated workforce. As chair of the Committee on Higher Education, he has championed funds for the UC Riverside School of Medicine; secured financial support for the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture and Industry of the Riverside Art Museum; and championed policies that strengthen community college education and support for students. He understands how an educated workforce is critical to the success of California.

"Assemblymember Medina has been a champion for education in the Inland Empire, first as a high school teacher and then as a Board member," Robin Steinback, MVC president, said. "Throughout his career, he has seen firsthand how an education improves lives, strengthens communities, and drives economic opportunity. Assemblymember Medina believes strongly in MVC's mission and understands the importance of investing in education and the community college system.

"He has been a servant of the people, seeking prosperity for all cultures whether through education or other means. He exemplifies what it means to be a community leader. His leadership at the region and state level has truly made a difference in our community and the College's path to becoming a comprehensive institution for Valley residents."

The virtual event featured a panel discussion on how César E. Chávez's human rights work influenced them and their work as community leaders. The panelists included Medina, a UC Riverside graduate; Mary Figueroa, president, RCCD Board of Trustees and the 2019 winner of the César E. Chávez Legacy Award; and Julio Gonzalez, co-chair of the César E. Chávez Committee, director of Educational Partnerships at MVC, and member of the Val Verde Unified School District Board.

MVC students competed in a virtual visual arts competition with each student winning $600, and the two local high school districts each selected two students to honor based on their academic success and service to the high school and/or community. Each received a $500 scholarship.

This year's theme was – ¡Viva la causa! We are suffering. We have suffered. And we are not afraid to suffer in order to win our cause.


2021 César E. Chávez Scholarship Winners

Vanessa Munoz

Vanessa Munoz

A straight-A student, Vanessa Munoz, a senior, says she is driven by her desire to become an industrial engineer.

Her high school schedule has been strategically packed with community service, 15 rigorous AP and honors courses, multiple clubs, sports, and assuming leadership roles across campus. Munoz volunteers at the local library and helped organize a Teen Suicide and Prevention Event and Drug Free Week. She was captain of Valley View High School soccer and cross country teams for a couple of seasons and secretary of the Youth Advisory Council. She is also a member of the National Honors Society.

"One phrase I will never forget as I transition from high school into college is: 'Don't dwell on the past; there are always bigger things to look forward to,'" Munoz said.

However, it was a day before beginning her high school career that Munoz reflects on to this day.

"My uncle shared a story about how my grandparents came to the United States with only the clothes on their back and gave us the life we have today," she said. "He told us to look around; we are blessed and continue to work just as hard to make a life for ourselves."

She eagerly looks forward to college discussions and ultimately selection with guidance from her family. She says, she will lean on her leadership, math and science skills as she transitions from high school to college.

Chrystian Arce

Chrystian Arce

A Mexican American from Moreno Valley, Chrystian Arce, a senior at Canyon Springs High School, enjoys playing guitar, participating in sports, and has a deep passion for US history. He is actively involved in the community and recently assisted a local middle school in building an agricultural center to advance the student experience. He also volunteers at his place of worship.

But it is his exploration of US history which has consumed his life's journey.

"I intend on exploring my passion for history on a more advanced forum, in my next step to college with an aspiration of becoming a history professor," he said.

Gurleen Sandhu

Gurleen Sandhu

A senior, Gurleen Sandhu will be one of Orange Vista High School's valedictorians. An inquisitive individual, she has been a stellar student who plans on majoring in aerospace engineering and aspires to work at NASA. She always shoots for the stars. Currently, Sandhu has acceptance letters from California State University, Los Angeles; University of California, Riverside; and California State University, Fullerton, with a few more possibly on their way.

She attends Sikh Temple where she mentors youth. Also she has a passion for teaching crochet. Sandhu says she pushes herself to try things she has never attempted.

Giselle Alvarez

Giselle Alvarez

Giselle Alvarez, a senior at Citrus Hill High School, is considered an amazing student. Not only does Alvarez challenge herself by taking rigorous courses, she also is a leader of AVID, which she has been a part of for four years, as well as ASB and FFA programs. She earned the right to serve as one of the high school's valedictorians after amassing a 4.06 GPA. Alvarez plans to attend La Sierra University, majoring in Criminal Justice in order to work for the US Custom/Border Patrol.

"My motivation to become a US Customs and Border protection agent is because I love traveling," she said. "My dream is to work at different international airports as I explore my career. I desire to serve and protect my country and I believe in the law. I believe the law is needed in order to keep this country safe."

High school officials say she exemplifies the qualities of a servant leader both in the classroom and in her leadership roles.

Here are a few perspectives from her teachers:

"Giselle has held the office of commissioner of Activities for three years where she has planned countless activities and events like homecoming and prom. Giselle also held the position of junior officer in FFA and last year was treasurer. She also sits on the District Student Task Force with the superintendent and presents our reports to the school board," Kevin Johnston, ASB director and teacher, said.

"I would describe Giselle as a young woman with tremendous character and dedication to her family, community and her school. We are blessed to have her on our campus. I appreciate how reliable and hardworking she is and I am so proud of how she has grown into an incredible leader. Her persistence and progression as a student leader have been a joy to watch," Audrey Woelke, AG and Environmental Science teacher, said.

"Giselle has been an officer in FFA for two years and is currently president. She has demonstrated leadership abilities presiding over more than 350 FFA students at Citrus Hill. She plans and conducts monthly meetings for over 100 FFA students at a time and has served as the state delegate at the California FFA convention," Deborah Wroblewski, FFA teacher, said.

Many applauded her work in maintaining her grades yet cited her extensive work on supporting others.

"Giselle is always the first one to volunteer to help, and the last to leave," Wroblewski added. "She is outgoing and always has ideas for ways to help build relationships and community among our students, but she is also one of the sweetest and most humble students I know. I am so proud of her and getting to be her teacher, advisor and coach has been a privilege."


College Art Competition Winners

Irvin Escobar

Irvin Escobar

Irvin Escobar, 23, is completing his final year at Moreno Valley College. He will be transferring to complete his studies in psychology in order to become a school counselor.

  • Artwork: Raíces, digital photograph
  • Artist Statement: Farm workers, Huelga, essential, offspring, opportunities


Jessica Hernandez

Jessica Hernandez

Jessica Hernandez, 35, recently left her job as an elementary school teacher in search of a new path. Thanks to several major changes in her life, including a divorce, she says she felt these changes were moving her towards a new path in life.

A lover of the outdoors, Hernandez can be found hiking, camping, rock climbing, kayaking or swimming.

"I have always been a crafty and creative person, but since my father passed in October of 2019, I have been connecting with more traditional mediums of art such as oil pastels, watercolors, and acrylics," she said. "I love all things Disney, am a total bookworm and a complete nerd. I love everything from classical Shakespeare to Marvel comics and fan fiction. I spend very little time passively sitting in front of the television and would much rather be creating or working on myself. This could mean anything from creative writing to journaling, introspective question answering, playing guitar, meditating, or creating art."

Currently, a psychology major, she is working on her prerequisites for a second master's degree. This fall she will be attending Loma Linda University in order to complete a dual degree in counseling and marriage/family therapy to become an art therapist.

  • Artwork: Legacy of a Lady, watercolor
  • Artist Statement: This piece is a tribute to the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It features a portrait of her wearing her famous dissent collar glaring down on a smaller portrait of Brett Kavanaugh behind "bars" created by one of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's most famous quotes: "Women belong in all places where decisions are being made."
Jovanni Monzon

Jovanni Monzón

Jovanni Monzón, 21, plans on majoring in music. Aside from studying music, Monzón works as a Mariachi and mixes and produces music.

  • Artwork: De Colores, performance by Gio and Erik Monzón
  • Artist Statement: The song was recorded with the help of my brother who plays the trumpet and guitarron. I did the music production. I play and sing a beautiful song that is devoted to César E. Chávez to celebrate a day of his legacy.