RCCD trustee has a new role

By Danny Heflin / Asst. news editor

a new honor (Riverside community college district / Special to viewpoints)

By Danny Heflin / Asst. news editor

Riverside Community College District will have a greater voice with the election of Mary Figueroa, secretary of the Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees, to the National Association of Community College Trustees Board of Directors.

Figueroa’s election was during the Association of Community College Trustees Congress meeting this past October in Dallas. Figueroa is the first trustee to be elected to the board from the Riverside area.

As one of 25 regional directors from around the country to help set recommendations for over 6,500 community colleges, technical colleges and trade schools.

“I am deeply honored to have been elected and welcome the responsibility of carrying the voice for this region,” Figueroa said. “Sitting at the national table provides the opportunity to be an advocate to the needs of the students and the district, and I look forward to the challenge of having our voice heard.”

Figueroa has been representing the students on the Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees since 1995; serving in all capacities including six terms as president of the Riverside Community College District Board.

She has also chaired each of the board’s committees.

Figueroa, a native of Riverside, is uniquely suited to represent the needs on the student body at Riverside City College.

As a graduate of UC Riverside, member of the Inland Empire Hispanic Leadership Council and the City of Riverside’s Eastside Think Tank, Figueroa is no stranger to the issues that concern students and residents of Riverside and the Inland Empire.

“(Figueroa) grew up here, her perspective to underrepresented areas such as here in the Inland Empire will be a benefit,” said Nick Bygon, student trustee of the Riverside Community College District.

With the rising costs of education that seem to hit the hardest in the Riverside region, Figueroa is poised to be able to let RCC’s collective voice be heard at a national level.

This could lead to more specialized programs for job and career training as well as assisting students in educational goals beyond the two year program to four year programs and beyond.

“It is imperative that students are represented local,” Bygon said. “With the economic crisis here in the Inland Empire, Figueroa’s representation is vital.”

In addition to serving on the Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees, Figueroa is also currently serving her third two-year term on the California Community College League Trustees Board.

“Figueroa is a respected elected official who has stayed closely connected to the communities our colleges serve,” said Gregory Gray, chancellor of Riverside Community College District.

“Having her voice heard at the national level on behalf of our region’s colleges and California community colleges will have a profound impact on policies and programs needed to serve students,” he said.

Figueroa has many community activities from National Latino Peace Officers Association to Attorney General’s Civil Rights Commission on Hate Crimes  was a counselor with the state of California’s Department of Corrections. She was also named Most Influential Latina of the year in 2005.

Figueroa’s will be on the Association of Community College Trustees Board of Directors for three years trough 2014.