Portrait by Devi Pride Photography.
I am the daughter of loving parents who worked the fields, safeguarded traditions, served others, and emphasized the importance of education and familia. These values have shaped who I am and how I serve my community.
After earning a BA in American studies with an emphasis on Chicano studies and a bilingual teaching credential from UC-Santa Cruz, I started working at Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) in 1987. I earned a master’s in educational leadership at Mills College in Oakland.
I began dancing Mexican folk dance at the age of 6. Dance made me more aware of my cultural heritage and helped me develop a strong sense of pride and self confidence. I joined Esperanza del Valle (EDV), our local adult Mexican folk dance group in 1987 and now serve as assistant director. EDV promotes pride and an understanding of Mexican culture through traditional dance forms rooted in the merging of indigenous, European, and African heritages.
In 2006 I founded Estrellas de Esperanza, a 40+ member dance group for students ranging in the ages of 5 to 18. Estrellas is committed to projecting a positive image of Mexican culture and ensuring that local students learn about their heritage.
My involvement goes beyond the arts. As a parent education trainer for PVUSD, I work with colleagues to engage parents in their children’s schooling. Recently I helped to form the Watsonville Campesino Appreciation Caravan, dedicated to agricultural campesinos (fieldworkers). At the onset of the pandemic, they were left out of the “essential workers” narrative. What began as a caravan of cars driving past local agricultural worksites with messages of gratitude in Spanish and Mixteco Bajo has transformed into Adopt a Cuadrilla, where we distribute personal protective equipment and household supplies. This work and everything else that I do is offered with respect to our local community.