Raul Gonzalez (1967 ASB President of Gavilan College while located in Hollister Airport), Joe Paul Gonzalez, Irma Gonzalez and Fernando Gonzalez (1969 ASB president at Gavilan College in Gilroy) are pictured at the Jan. 17 “topping off” ceremony for the college’s new San Benito campus. Photo: Contributed
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With sincere gratitude, I reflect on the truly historic “topping off” ceremony that took place on Jan. 17, 2024. The significance of this day marked a symbolic milestone in the construction of Gavilan College’s San Benito campus, as the last steel beam was placed. As an alumna, and now as your proud Gavilan College Trustee, it was an immense honor for me.

In celebrating this remarkable event, it is essential to reflect on the humble beginnings of Gavilan College. In 1919, San Benito County Junior College was established in Hollister, serving as a beacon of educational opportunity for our local community. This college’s transformative journey has been entwined with the collective aspirations and dreams of countless individuals seeking knowledge and growth.

By 1967, as state funding paved the way for expansion and progress, San Benito County Junior College had changed its name and found its temporary home at the Hollister airport. My family’s connection to this journey adds a personal touch, starting in 1967, with my brother-in-law Raul, serving as the last ASB President while the college was located locally. 

The growth and evolution of San Benito County Junior College did not end there, as Gilroy became home to our second campus now known as Gavilan Community College in 1968. The connection endured there as Raul’s younger brother, Fernando, had the privilege of being the student body president in 1969. 

Together, we have witnessed Gavilan College empower generations of learners, shaping their futures and opening doors of opportunity.

As we celebrate the physical structure taking shape before our eyes, we also acknowledge the profound legacy and impact it represents. My family’s connection with Gavilan College runs deep, with my husband, Joe Paul, our children Briana, Talia, Joseph and myself all being proud alumni. This serves as a testament to the transformative power of education in our lives. 

As the last steel beam was placed, pride filled my heart. My decision to run for Gavilan College Trustee and subsequent victory was fueled by a desire to ensure the college returned to its roots here in San Benito County.

As we move forward and embrace this new chapter, we do so with gratitude in our hearts—gratitude for the unwavering dedication of our faculty, staff and administrators; gratitude for the countless students who have passed through our halls, carrying the Gavilan spirit with them into the world.

Together, as we witnessed the placement of the last beam of this incredible campus, let us recognize the profound impact it will have on the lives of future generations. The full circle of my family’s legacy and that of San Benito County Junior College is almost complete—we are almost home, and the echoes of wisdom will resonate through the ages right here, at home in San Benito County. 

May the return of Gavilan College campus in our county, continue to shape minds, inspire dreams, and nurture the spirit of lifelong learning.

Irma C. Gonzalez is the Gavilan Community College Trustee for Area 7. 

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