Each year, the Victor Valley College Foundation gives awards for distinguished service, and honors an alumni of the college for his or her success and contributions to the local community. On Saturday, February 8, community leaders, business representatives and local residents participated in a Red Carpet Premiere gala to honor the recipients.
This year’s honorees are:
~ Distinguished Service to the Community – Michele Spears.
~ Distinguished Education Service – Larry and Catherine Heywood.
~ President’s Award – Jaye Tashima and Southern California Edison.
~Alumni Hall of Fame – James Ramos, San Bernardino 3rd District Supervisor.
During the ceremonies, Dr. Prem Reddy, founder of Desert Valley Hospital and Medical Group was also given an honor for his contributions to education at Victor Valley College. Last year he donated $120,000 to Victor Valley College. Reddy said during his comments, that he attributes his success to his education, and that “Giving back is not a gift, it’s an obligation.”
James Ramos – Alumni Hall of Fame
Ramos graduated from Victor Valley College (VVC) with an Associates Degree in 1994, and went on to achieve a bachelor’s degree in 2002 from CSU San Bernardino, and an MBA from University of Redlands in 2009. Growing up as an underprivileged youth on the San Manuel Indian Reservation, he has risen being one of the most prominent leaders in San Bernardino County. His studies concentrated on business administration and accounting, and has been a successful entrepreneur owning several restaurants in the Inland Empire, and working in education with the San Bernardino City School District. He has been an advocate for Native American culture and preserving its history, promoting cultural awareness and curriculum in the county for over 20 years. He served on the San Bernardino Community College District Board of Trustees, and as Governor to the California State Native American Heritage Commission in 2008. He has received numerous awards for his humanitarian and educational efforts.
Michele Spears – Distinguished Service to the Community
Spears has been the leader of the Victor Valley Chamber of Commerce for the past 24 years, making it one of the most respected chambers in the nation. The chamber is one of only 222 of 7,000 chambers nationwide to be accredited by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a distinction it has held for 19 years. She runs the association like a business, ensuring it’s financial strength to serve its members and the community. She developed and coordinated the Leadership Victor Valley program, which inspires the leaders in this region. Her vision helped establish community cleanup days, and introduced a meeting format that brings 200 businesses and community leaders together each month to network and learn about current issues. She also supports the VVC Foundation, Victor Elementary School District Citizens Bond Oversight Committee, and participates in Relay for Life, Girl Scouts and Guide Dogs of the Desert. She has been honored by the Rotary Club and Congressman Paul Cook.
Larry and Catherine Heywood
Long-time residents of Hesperia, and have been educators to students in Hesperia and to VVC alumni. Both retired teachers, since June of 2012, they have helpd facilitate and coordinate the BUY-I (Idaho) Pathway Program, which gives local students an opportunity to take courses online at the Idaho-based institution, and are now coordinators for the entire State of California. The Heywoods write, direct and produce theatrical productions on local history about building Fort San Bernardino, founding the City of San Bernardino and discovering the magic of Dancing through the Decades. These productions featured hundreds of performers, and thousands of spectators. Their motto has been to serve, love and uplift those around them without expecting anything in return, and they continue to encourage and inspire those they encounter every day.
The President’s Award is given to an organization or individual that has made an impact on the college. This year, two awards were handed out, one to Southern California Edison and the other to VVC Athletics Director Jaye Tashima.
Southern California Edison – President’s Award
SCE gave a $125,000 grant to the college in 2012, which provided scholarships for students, opened the Math Success Center, offered solar workforce training, and added STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) programs to the college schedule. This helped to better serve nearly 1000 students in 2013. SCE partnered with the college with the installation of solar energy projects, which have helped to save $1 million each year in electricity costs. A solar farm is on the property, along with covered solar parking on the main campus and at the VVC regional public safety center. The company also joined in the celebration of VVC’s Gold event, celebrating the college’s 50th anniversary. SCE is committed to helping the region thrive.
Jaye Tashima – President’s Award
Tashima has a generous spirit which spills out to serve her colleagues and students alike. In addition to serving as Director of Athletics, she is in charge of student discipline for the entire campus. She is firm in enforcing standards, while also sharing her giving nature. She is one of only a handful of women who serve as athletic directors in the California Community College System. She serves on the Gender Equity and Post Conference Committees, coordinates soccer games for the Foothill Conference, and is a consistent donor to the VVC foundation.
For more information about Victor Valley College, call (760) 245-4271, or visit www.vvc.edu.