Then: Maria Bonilla-Giuriato's intriguing story began with her work with then-Monterey County Supervisor Simon Salinas. She was involved in several meetings related to the design process of CSUMB before the university came to be. Bonilla-Giuriato then enrolled at CSUMB in 1998 in order to complete a degree with Human Communication (HCOM) in Practical Professional Ethics; at the time she was a mother of two small children and working full-time for the Supervisor.
Just prior to her graduation, Maria Bonilla-Giuriato's Senior Capstone project, "Farmworkers Housing & Health Needs Assessment" was presented to the campus community. Originally, she was given funding from Monterey County to research the project, which involved interviewing a variety of migrant workers and gauging their housing and health needs. Soon the report was a revenue generator, being presented to both Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.
The project was also honored with special recognition in Long Beach at the Postdoctoral Research Awards. The report brought great awareness to the surrounding communities about issues surrounding farmworkers and immigrants. But Bonilla-Giuriato, born in Castroville and the daughter of farmworker parents, didn't stop there: She won the Tri-County Achievement (co-recipient with Juanita Lopez), then began working for Monterey County, which led to her present career.
Now: Maria Bonilla-Giuriato is now Community Relations Manager with Monterey County's Department of Social and Employment Services. She has served in this capacity for the last three years, and is responsible for overseeing policy related to housing and health. She's also an elected official, having been elected to the city council (District 5) in Salinas, her current home.
Bonilla-Giuriato still manages to mentor two to three CSUMB students each year, helping them overcome obstacles, guiding them through the college process and eventually helping them find employment after graduation-always encouraging them to get involved in the community like their mentor.
She describes CSUMB as "an extraordinary place, providing empowerment" to all those willing to be encouraged. "Being part of CSUMB encouraged me to get involved, and encourages me today as a parent."
Her next step may be the Panetta Institute's master's of public policy.
Then: Guadalupe Serrano was born in Mexico and raised in Watsonville from the age of three. Serrano completed her GED requirements some time after having left school, having completed only the seventh grade. By the time she decided to enroll at CSUMB in the year 2000, Guadalupe Serrano had been married for 10 years, was working full-time, and was a mother of four. Her accomplishments at CSUMB included the following:
- Provost Award winner in 2002
- 2002 Liberal Studies graduate
- Enrolled (and later interned) in the teacher credential program
- One of 25 to get teacher credential in 2003
"I remember the (CSUMB) ads were really positive," she recalls. "It was great because I didn't have to commute; it was so close. My goal was to get my B.A. in two years."
After achieving that goal, Guadalupe enrolled in the teacher credential program and later became an intern with Delberta Meyers. "She was very supportive," Serrano said. "She knew what kind of hectic schedules we were all doing. She knew the pathway we (students) needed; she provided seminars and really paved the way for us."
Now: Guadalupe has been serving the Echo Valley School District in Prunedale as a bilingual, third-grade teacher for the past three years.
She describes her CSUMB experiences as "very positive. I loved all the faculty there. I think they have a wonderful program because they really prepare you for what you're going for."