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The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Civil rights icon Dolores Huerta celebrates President Cynthia Olivo

The Fullerton College community celebrated nine months of Cynthia Olivo’s presidency alongside North Orange County politicians and leaders.
Brian Mack
Fullerton College president Cynthia Olivo assists Dolores Huerta as they walk back from the stage at Olivo’s Investiture ceremony on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023.

Cynthia Olivo has stated repeatedly that raising equity on campus for all Hornets is her main goal. Olivo has used the celebration of her Investiture as President of Fullerton College to invite diverse, powerful women based in California to speak and advocate for equality in three separate events throughout the week, with Friday, Sept. 29 being the date of the final event, and the crown jewel.

Enter hero and icon Dolores Huerta, the Co-Founder of the United Farm Workers Association that marched alongside legendary Mexican civil rights advocate Cesar Chavez. Huerta was personally brought to campus by Olivo, along with California Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva. The two spent the afternoon congratulating Olivo for her success early on into her presidency in front of the Fullerton College library, alongside members of the NOCCCD Board of Trustees, faculty members, friends and family of Olivo.

NOCCCD Board of Trustees Chancellor Byron Breland served as the MC, calling multiple speakers to the microphone. However, many attendees said that Huerta stood out above and beyond from the other speakers, due to her being a nationally recognized civil rights activist.

Members of the audience rejoice in the celebration of Fullerton College president Cynthia Olivo’s Investiture ceremony on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023 (Brian Mack)

“My parents, my mom specifically, she picked strawberries in the field in Salinas, California. So, just being in the proximity of Dolores Huerta was like, giving me chills,” said student service specialist Alicia Contreras. “I have pictures of my parents going out to demonstrations in Salinas, and it was just special to see her.”

While many were honored by her presence, Huerta said in her speech that she was honored to be invited to Olivo’s Investiture. She paid respect to Olivo’s parents for formerly being farm workers, and then gave the current Fullerton College president her flowers, claiming that workers in education are essential to society, the same way workers on a farm can be.

Huerta also congratulated Olivo for her efforts in continuing to remind students about the history of Native Americans. The event started with a reading of Fullerton College’s indigenous land acknowledgment and an indigenous singing performance by Mujeres de Maiz.

“Many people out there would like to erase education. They would like to erase the history of our Native Americans,” said Huerta in her speech. “They would like to erase the history of our people of color and what they have gone through in the civil rights movement… This is why in today’s world we are so grateful that we have people [like Olivo] to lead us.”

Moments after Huerta left the stage, Breland invited Quirk-Silva to speak, introducing her as a women leader, a partner and supporter of the NOCCCD. While being an alumna from Fullerton College, earning an Associates of Arts degree, Quirk-Silva said she was pleased by the new infrastructures added to campus, alongside the support provided to students of color.

“Over 40 years ago when I attended [Fullerton College], coming right across the street from Fullerton High School. I have to tell you, ladies and gentlemen. There were not very many others that looked like me, who watched my story,” said Quirk-Silva in her speech. “There was not a lot of encouragement for somebody like me, to go to school and to graduate, and certainly to run for office.”

Assembly Member Sharon Quirk-Silva speaks at the Fullerton College president Cynthia Olivo’s Investiture ceremony on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023. (Brian Mack)

Other guest speakers included UC Berkeley professor and advocate for HIS institutions Gina Garcia, FC Faculty Academics president Jeanette Rodriguez, and A.S. vice president and Student Trustee Chloe Serrano. They all thanked Olivo for the positive impact she has had on their careers as a friend and co-worker. Serrano added that Olivo was proof for herself, that women of color could succeed in high leadership roles.

Olivo was pleased by Serrano’s words, stating that she intends to be a role model for students. “It is one of the most important parts of my leadership. To always remain close to the voices of students. In the audience today you would meet students that I have known since they were 14,” said Olivo. “It is an honor to be surrounded by students, and that is part of the whole way of leadership from Dolores Huerta.”

Appointed on Nov. 8, 2022, Olivo has been president of Fullerton College since Jan. 2023. She has stated since starting in that position, that her main goal is to close any equity gaps there might be at the institution. Among many projects, she has worked on supporting women sports teams such as Hornets’ softball, honoring Hispanic alumni like Cruz Reynoso, and by creating new positions in house to have more eyes on potential social issues on campus, such as the Senior Coordinator of Athletics Marcia Foster and a A2mend Special Projects manager Marshall Johnson.

Prior to Fullerton College, Olivo served as the vice president of student services in Pasadena City College. Former co-workers, vice-president of student services at San Bernardino College Scott Thayer and president of Irvine Valley College John Hernandez, said that Olivo has always had a passion for helping students in their personal and academic well-being.

“When she was at Pasadena City College, Pasadena really led the way in a lot of initiatives. I could not tell you one in particular right now. I know they have done [with Olivo] a lot with affinity groups, guided pathways,” said Hernandez. “They really elevated a lot of the programs that many of us [as college presidents] either have and have not grown as much, or we know are having a really good impact on students.”

The Investiture ceremony concluded with Olivo speaking on stage, thanking all the guest speakers for their appreciation speeches, and sharing with the crowd how important her mother has been during her career. Olivo said that her sisters and her could complete their education due to their mother’s efforts of providing for them, while completing a bachelor’s degree.

Fullerton College president Cynthia Olivo speaks to the audience at her Investiture ceremony on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023. (Brian Mack)

“She [Olivo’s mother] loved my speech, the presentation, everything. It means a lot to me of course to have her recognize and see that this achievement is dedicated to her,” said Olivo to The Hornet.

As she continues to serve as college president, Olivo said she is excited to keep working with campus and district officials to keep raising equity and equality in the Hornet community.

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About the Contributors
Pedro Saravia, News Editor
Pedro Saravia is the News Desk Editor for The Hornet Newspaper. He previously wrote for Inside Fullerton magazine. Pedro is a JACC award winning journalist for his work investigating Title IX issues at Fullerton College. Pedro enjoys going to the gym, playing and watching soccer, and hanging with his brother. He aspires to be a politics and sports reporter.
Brian Mack, Staff Reporter
Brian Mack is a first semester staff reporter for The Hornet newspaper. In his free time, he loves watching anime, sports, and playing video games. He also enjoys sneakers and reading comic books. His goal in journalism is to continue to learn and improve the various skills required in to be in the field.

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