Published in the May 10 – 23, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Bobbi Jo Palmer

Bobby Jo Palmer

My first three weeks have been amazing. I’ve had the opportunity to get to know the college by participating in a lot of events. So far, the thing that strikes me most is everyone here is so darn friendly, including students, faculty and staff, and GECA students and parents. It is a very welcoming experience.

It’s the end of the spring semester and the college is abuzz in celebrations, graduation preparations and Super Saturday, an opportunity for new students to “get it all done in one day” (financial aid, assessment, kick start orientation, counseling). I started my job just in time to participate in our new series of Gavilan College Educational Forums. We went to the local high schools with a “road show” of anywhere from 20 to 30 staff and students from various departments, all on hand to answer questions from seniors.

I am excited to be working with the Gavilan College Educational Foundation because, although the board of directors has continued the good work of funding scholarships, the foundation has not had a leader to grow programs and make connections with the community. I’m a big people person so I’m delighted to be working with some longtime friends and also to establish new relationships and make new friends for the college. My first goal is to get acquainted with the inner workings of the college and its many support programs, meeting faculty and staff and hearing about their needs.

I tagged along with a group of parents from Gilroy Early College Academy, on a president’s tour. We walked the campus and visited the library and other locations. The student center has been remodeled and is soon to open, the sports fields are getting a much-needed overhaul and the basketball court is ready to be painted and finished. The flowers in the native garden are in bloom.

I think the Gavilan College Education Foundation can play an important role in our community. It can be a conduit to connect the community with the college by providing avenues for engagement and participation. We can secure donors to complete projects that have remained dreams for many years and for which there is no other source of funding.

It’s a new day at Gavilan College, and it’s so exciting to be a participant and to witness the joy of learning for all of these students. It’s also an opportunity for me to go back to college and complete my degree. Over the years I’ve taken many classes but never put them all together. I’m pretty excited about becoming a student again at 55. I’m looking forward to finally becoming a Gavilan alumnus and an employee. There are 74 employees that are Gavilan alumni, a testament that this is a great place to be.

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I heard an amazing and inspirational story from a parent at one of the high school educational forums. He had gone through a Gavilan College summer program for at-risk youth back in the ‘70s, and it literally changed his life and set him on the right path to succeed. He brought his daughter to the forum to begin a journey of her own.

So far I am getting great feedback from the community: excitement that the foundation will be more active and that the Alumni Association will be brought back to life. I’d like to hear more of our alum’s stories. Did you attend Gavilan College? How did that experience help you? How did it change you? Tell us about your story.

We’re also looking for people who would like to get involved, as volunteers, donors, or board members.

Bobbi Jo Palmer is the new coordinator for the Gavilan College Educational Foundation and Alumni Association. Reach her at bpalmer@gavilan.edu.