(Santa Ana, CA)—Rancho Santiago Community College District (RSCCD) has appointed 20-year-old Garden Grove resident Raquel Manriquez as the student representative on its Board of Trustees for 2015-2016.
Manriquez, a third-year political science major at Santa Ana College (SAC), is currently working on finishing coursework for her associate degree. In fall 2016, she hope to transfer to UCLA to complete her bachelor’s degree in political science. Her long-term goal is to earn a law degree and enter the field of corporate or education law.
“I am passionate about advocating for underrepresented populations,” says Manriquez. “Law offers me a great opportunity to give back to the community.”
At Pacifica High School, she was reluctant to get involved in student government as she was a transfer student and not as well-known as her fellow students who had gone to school together since grammar school. When she got to Santa Ana College, she jumped into student government right away her freshman year. Initially, she served as the Associated Student Government (ASG) Senate Secretary. Before long, she moved into the role of ASG Disabled Student Programs and Services (DSPS) Senator.
Standing up for the disabled community seemed natural to her. Not only does Manriquez’s mother work in special education for the Garden Grove Unified School District (GGUSD), but Manriquez herself works part-time there as an instructional aide helping preschool students with autism. As the DSPS Student Senator, she advocated for ADA-compliant furniture for the student lounge and initiated measures to ensure that furniture remain in place to help blind students.
In 2014-2015, she was elected as ASG President requiring her to represent over 25,000 SAC students. In that role, she supported the effort to ensure that the college hire a full-time coordinator of student life, encouraged the inclusion of gender neutral bathrooms on campus, and the expansion of cultural resources for LGBT students. In addition, she helped reallocate resources to support a LGBT pride event and a veterans’ appreciation day.
The RSCCD student trustee is recognized as a full member at Board of Trustees meetings and can participate in discussion of issues with the privilege of an advisory vote. Manriquez is enthusiastic about sharing the viewpoint of students from both Santa Ana and Santiago Canyon Colleges with her fellow trustees. She looks forward to working on projects that will benefit both campuses equally. “The students really need support,” she says. “I am looking forward to collaborating with both campuses on issues that are important to them.”
Manriquez’s biggest obstacle in accessing higher education has been financial. Although her parents both work—her father in law enforcement in Santa Ana and her mother for the GGUSD—they are unable to bear the burden of paying for her college education. So Manriquez balances her studies with her part-time job as well as her involvement in student government.
“Juggling my time and my priorities has been a challenge,” she says. “I have to balance time spent on academics, volunteering, my job, and my personal life. Sometimes when academics have suffered, I have had to reallocate the time spent on each because my education is definitely the most important.”
Although both of her parents attended college, neither have a bachelor’s degree. Attending SAC has become a Manriquez family tradition as that is where her father went, where she goes, and where her younger brother started last fall. When Manriquez graduates, she will be one of the first in her extended family with a four-year degree.
About Rancho Santiago Community College District
Santa Ana College and Santiago Canyon College are public community colleges of the Rancho Santiago Community College District, which serves the residents of Anaheim Hills, Orange, Santa Ana, Villa Park, and portions of Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Irvine, Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, and Tustin.. Both colleges provide education for academic transfer and careers, courses for personal and professional development, and customized training for business and industry.
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