By Paul Medina
East Los Angeles College hosted its 75th year anniversary celebration and concert at Ingalls Auditorium.
The Nov. 6 event highlighted ELAC’s years of academic success and honored two distinguished individuals and their impact to society.
The event concluded with musical performances by Hip Street and Tierra.
The event brought together an array of alumni, members of the community and civic and government leaders.
One honoree was Julie Benavides who retired this spring semester after a 20-plus year career as a Child Development faculty member, dean and Vice President of Student Services.
The second honoree was California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, who aside from serving as the highest ranking member of the California State Assembly, previously served in a career with nonprofit management and academia.
ELAC President Alberto Román praised ELAC for being a “bastion of education” for 75 years.
“Our campus takes pride in providing opportunities to those who lack educational access. We will continue to serve all who strive to achieve their academic goals in higher education,” Román said.
California State Senator Susan Rubio, whose district represents ELAC, spoke about her experiences while at the college and its impact on her during tough times.
Rubio talked about ELAC being her salvation, taking her in during tough times. She said now she is representing ELAC as the state senate representative.
Rubio said it is hard for students to succeed in the area. It was a struggle for her growing up and attending Belmont High school.
Rubio presented a proclamation certificate honoring ELAC in its 75th year anniversary.
Román introduced Benavides who began teaching at ELAC in 1996 and showcased her work with many marginalized students.
Benavides was a department chair, then a dean. In 2015 she became the first female vice president of student services.
Benavides helped develop and shape programs from cultural development to safe zones and helped the formerly incarcerated individuals become rising scholars.
“Julie was a catalyst for change,’’ Román said.
Román also applauded Benavides for recently receiving her doctorate in leadership education.
Benavides said she felt awkward acknowledging that she had just told her family recently that she was going to get this recognition.
Benavides accepted the recognition for everyone who created the movements from the students, to faculty and community.
Benavides talked about how she learned that education was key for success.
Her parents came with hope that her family of 11 can “do better to serve the community,” Bendavides said.
The ELAC Foundation was lauded for its many programs and achievements.
The programs include a business incubator, which is the only one to be in a predominantly minority area benefiting, immigrants, LGBTQ+ and marginalized communities.
The ELAC Foundation introduced Anthony Rendon who is the current California Assembly Speaker.
In a pre-recorded session, Rendon thanked the foundation for its work benefiting many students who are within his constituency.
Rendon was not in attendance due to being in Glasgow, Scotland for the COP 26 climate conference.
“We aren’t just here for memories, 75 years of history. We want to salute our present and our incredible bright future,” Román said.