Classified Employee of the Year: Silvia Gonzalez

Silvia Gonzalez in a pink jacket with her left hand on a tree

The California Community Colleges Chancellors Office and Board of Governors announced May 25 that Yuba College employee Silvia Gonzalez was one of five Classified Employees of the Year at the state level.

“I was in shock after I got the news,’ Gonzalez said. “I’m still in shock, but I feel very honored that all of the hard work I’ve put in the last 15 years has paid off.”

The award honors community college employees who demonstrate the highest level of commitment to the California Community College Vision for Success and equal opportunity for all students. It is supported through a grant from the Foundation for California Community Colleges and awards its winners with $750 in cash and a commemorative plaque.

“Silvia has a knack for bringing out the best in students and helping them utilize their strengths,” said Anabel Toche, the Interim Director of Yuba College’s EOPS, CARE, & CalWORKS programs. “She treats and cares for them as if they were her own son or daughter. Her passion for what she does is unsurpassed.”

Recipients are nominated by their colleagues and endorsed by the local Board of Trustees. Award winners are then selected by representatives from the California Community College’s Board of Governors, Consultation Council, and the Chancellors Office.

Toche said Gonzalez’ energy and enthusiasm are contagious. She said she’s known Gonzalez since high school and it’s amazing to see her grow and change lives every day. She is rooted in helping students achieve their educational goals no matter what it takes.

“I believe anyone can do anything they put their mind to,” Gonzalez said.  “I started here as a single mom of two, and I use those experiences to encourage students not to give up. If I can do it, so can they.”

Gonzalez began her career at Yuba College in 2006, first as an EOPS student worker and now in her current role as an EOPS Specialist. Since then, she has worked directly with over 15,000 EOPS/CARE students who are disadvantaged by social, economic, educational, and linguistic barriers. Gonzalez has been influential in planning and organizing hundreds of student events and activities at Yuba College. Her efforts to advocate for Dreamers, foster youth, single parents, and other historically minoritized groups have had a positive impact on Yuba College student success rates.

Before competing at the state level, Gonzalez was also awarded Yuba College Employee of the Year and has been nominated by hundreds of graduating students every year, for over 10 years, for the ‘Yuba College Way to Go Award.’

Gonzalez said she is driven by her current and former students who often contact her to thank her for pushing them to be all they can be.

“I also have the support of my family and a great team at EOPS who I also call my family,” Gonzalez said.

Today, Gonzalez is married with five children and five grandchildren. She enjoys soccer and spending time with her family. She is also pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Sociology at Chico State with hopes of one day becoming an academic counselor. Although Gonzalez is open to new opportunities, she said “once EOPS, always EOPS.”