Southwestern Staff, Student Named Women of the Year

CHULA VISTA – Two local Assemblywomen honored four Southwestern College women leaders with awards in March as part of Women’s History Month.

In a ceremony held at Southwestern College Friday, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez honored Dean of Counseling and Student Support Programs Beatrice Zamora-Aguilar and Southwestern College Foundation Chairwoman Melyn Acasio. Earlier this month, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber honored Southwestern College faculty Dr. Sylvia Garcia-Navarrete and journalism student Lina Chankar.

Acasio is the Chair of Special Events for the Southwestern College Education Foundation. As chair she has helped raise more than $500,000 for Southwestern student programs and scholarships. A survivor of domestic violence, Acasio spends her time and talent supporting South County organizations dedicated to improving the social, educational and economic well-being of local residents.

In addition to being named 80th State Assembly District Woman of the Year by Gonzalez, Acasio has received the Marilyn Lassman Lifetime Achievement Award from the South County Economic Development Council and the Bayani Hero award from the Mabuhay Festival.

Zamora-Aguilar oversees more than 10 college organization and manages more than 80 employees. An expert in student support services, Zamora-Aguilar has sat on or chaired several state, local and college committees.

She is an Aztec dancer and co-authored “Native American College and Career Success,” a textbook currently used in 40 colleges in the United States and Canada.

She has received a Local Heroes Award from KPBS and Union Bank, a Barrio Station Cesar E. Chavez Social Justice Award a, Casa Familiar Abrazo Award and a Community Mother award from the Chicano-Latino Indigenous Coalition.

At an award ceremony held March 8, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber honored the Women of the Year of the 79th Assembly District.

Garcia-Navarrete has more than 30 years of experience. Her “Our Reading Toolbox” curriculum has revolutionized education within poor and historically underserved communities.

She has been named an Outstanding Latina Educator in American by the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education, has received two Southwestern College Outstanding Adjunct Teaching Excellence Awards and was a U-T San Diego Latina Champion Award finalist.

Her book, “The Reading-Thinking Connection,” will be released in 2015.

Chankar is a journalism student at Southwestern College and a staff writer for the nationally acclaimed student newspaper, The Sun.

She immigrated to the United States after fleeing political turmoil in the Middle East. Now settled in Chula Vista, she has won several collegiate print publication awards including an Associated Collegiate Press Reporter of the Year award.