For Elizabeth Zepeda Gonzalez, vying for the San Benito County Board of Education District 1 seat hits close to home. She has watched her younger sister struggle to stay on top of her schoolwork as their home has spotty wifi reception.
“There is a lot to address with the digital divide,” she said. “Some parents can’t access the computer and help their children, so we need to develop a plan for parents of students who are literate in technology and those who aren’t. Our internet at home is terrible, and if my sister is struggling, I can only imagine those kids who don’t have older siblings or parents to help them get a hot spot or some type of online access.”
Gonzalez said her sister has had to adjust her schedule to do school work in the evening, when their home wifi is most receptive. A San Benito High and Cal State Monterey Bay graduate, Gonzalez feels the county must form partnerships to ensure all students have broadband connectivity. She highlighted the need to have different resources and programs available as students return to campus.
“We have to make sure we’re using scientific data with Covid-19 and then using that info so we can safely reintegrate kids back into school and making sure not to put our community in harm’s way,” she said.
Gonzalez works for a nonprofit that provides emergency aid for victims of the wildfires and Covid-19. She said some of her proudest and most rewarding work involves running an internship program to help college students chart a path in the legal field.
Gonzalez first thought about running for the Board of Education seat a year ago, but once the pandemic arrived, it only reinforced why she is doing it.
“I want to give back and contribute to the community in whatever way possible. If elected, I will do all the work to make sure the community is taken care of,” she said.