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Vasquez steps down as migrant program director

June 11, 2001|By MARIO RENTERÍA, Staff Writer

Gloria Vasquez, director of the migrant program at the Imperial County Office of Education, is ready to move on to another phase in her life.

After 31 years in the migrant program at the Office of Education — 15 as director — Vasquez is ready to let someone else take over.

Vasquez, born in the state of Sonora, Mexico, came to the Imperial Valley in 1964 when she was 24.

Her first hurdle: English.

"The language barrier was my first challenge," said Vasquez.

"I picked up English here and there and I enrolled at Imperial Valley College," she said.

"I needed to speak the language to do whatever I wanted to do. It is a challenge that we all have in life, to better ourselves.

"My desire was to better my skills and have a better life," she said.

In 1970 she was offered a position at the Office of Education as a community liaison.


"It was a good opportunity for me to learn and work with an office that gives you a lot of sense toward where your going," she said.

"Besides being a job, it was a learning opportunity," she added.

She eventually worked her way to assistant director of the migrant program under Ruben Gonzalez.

In 1986 Vasquez became the director.

"I was very excited and knew I could take charge of the program. It was a normal transition for me, moving from assistant director to director," said Vasquez.

After 35 years of work, Vasquez is ready for a change of pace.

She said she would like to spend more time with her family and grandchildren.

"I will miss the people with whom I work, but it's time for somebody else to take over and do different things," she said.

She said she would like to write an autobiography. She already has a title for it: "De Aca De Este Lado," which means "over here on this side."

She also would like to write other things and keep volunteering with migrant families in any way she can.

"I have to give something back to the people who in a sense provided for me, especially the community," said Vasquez.

One thing Vasquez said she will treasure about working in the migrant program is seeing migrant students do well, which was her main goal.

"The greatest memories I have of the program, are when I see the migrant children succeed. I am still touched by that, because I see some of the migrant students grow up in the program and go to school and universities and seeing them come back with degrees.

"There are so many of them," she said. "Also, when I see the migrant parents going to schools, when the parents learn the education system and say to themselves, ‘I can do this.'"

Frances Tremblay of Fair Oaks, a longtime friend of Vasquez and one of the first people she worked with 31 years ago, said, "She is a very efficient person.

"She is very diplomatic because if she wasn't she wouldn't be here today. She doesn't push, she nudges, and gets what she can for the migrant program even in very difficult situations."

County Schools Superintendent John Anderson said of Vasquez: "She was a great asset to the migrant program. She was very much focused on migrant students and families who don't have advocates.

"She was an advocate for education for migrant students as well as education in health services, scholarship opportunities and career path opportunities. She gets along great with parents and school districts," he said.

"The districts believe in the program and the parents are much happier with the program. The parents have a lot of confidence and trust in Gloria," he added.

Vasquez will be replaced by Jaime Silva, principal at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in El Centro.

Said Silva: "She is a very gracious woman, very professional and very effective with the migrant program."

Silva met Vasquez about three years ago when he worked as a migrant summer school principal.

"What I've seen I'm very impressed with. She has a lot of empathy with children and migrant families.

"I know migrant education has had a tradition of providing quality educational services and many support services to students and parents. The migrant program has had a tradition of real quality outreach programs at the college level," said Silva.

Vasquez will step down at the end of this month and Silva will take over July 2.

Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3435.

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