Schools & Education

Gavilan College presented 910 degrees and certificates Friday

Business, liberal arts and social sciences were the largest number of associate in arts degrees awarded

Gavilan College presented 910 degrees and certificates on May 22 in the Bud and Jean Ottmar Memorial Gymnasium. Keynote speeches featured two faculty members who started at Gavilan as students — Dr. Blanca Arteago and Dr. Eduardo Cervantes.

An honorary degree was awarded to retired Morgan Hill Site Director, Lorraine Welk.

Graduation by the numbers:

  • 910 degrees and certificates presented
  • 255 Associate in Arts (AA) degrees
  • 42 Associate in Arts for Transfer (AA-T)
  • 142 Associate in Science (AS) degrees
  • 35 Associate in Science for Transfer (AS-T)
  • 408 Certificates of Achievement
  • 26 Certificates of Proficiency
  • 2 Awards of Achievement

What they studied:

  • Top AA's (by number awarded)- Business, Liberal Arts (Multiple Subject), Social Sciences
  • Top AA-T – Communication Studies
  • Top AS degrees – Health Science, Nursing
  • Top AS-T – Administration of Justice
  • Top Certificates of Achievement – CSU-General Education; Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC)
  • Top Certificate of Proficiency – English as a Second Language
  • Top Award of Achievement – Career Prep

About the featured speakers:

Dr. Blanca Arteaga is a counselor, professor, and the advisor for the Associated Students of Gavilan College. She was born in Torrance, Calif. but grew up in Guadalajara Jalisco, Mexico, re-immigrating to the U.S. at the age of 7. After graduating from Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, she began her career as a first-generation low-income student at Gavilan College where she earned an associate of arts in liberal studies. From Gavilan College, she transferred to San Jose State University, where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in child and adolescent development with a minor in sociology and a master of arts degree in counselor education along with a pupil personnel services credential. She later earned a doctor in education degree in educational leadership from San Francisco State University and is the author of Applying Cultura in the Community College Counseling Practice. Dr. Arteaga has extensive counseling experience both at the high school and community college levels. She has worked with underserved communities in programs such as California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP), Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS), Cooperative Agencies Resources for Education (CARE), and California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) where she has supported numerous students with educational, career, vocational, transfer, and personal counseling services, crisis intervention, and referral to campus and community resources. She also is a wife and a mother of two young children, ages 1 and 6. She is heavily involved at Rod Kelly Elementary school in the school site council and the parent club where she collaborates with others to develop, review, and evaluate school goals, budgets, and school improvement programs. Dr. Arteaga is a strong student advocate who consistently goes above and beyond her call of duty to assist students in overcoming barriers and persist to graduation and transfer. Her educational background, work experience, bilingualism, multiculturalism, and great passion for education have allowed her to positively influence the lives of many.

Dr. Eduardo Cervantes had his first job working in the apricot sheds of San Benito County when he was in elementary school. He attributes developing a strong work ethic from his Mexican-American working class family. Despite  doing poorly in high school, and being considered an “at-risk youth” by school officials, he still found success when he attended college. Gavilan College became a second chance for him to excel in the intellectual curiosity that always was prevalent in his life but he could not fully engage in prior to college. After high school, he went on to Gavilan College, where he earned an associate of arts degree and was a participant in the associated student body. After completing his courses at Gavilan College, he transferred to U.C. Santa Cruz, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in sociology. Next, he went on to Stanford University, where he completed a master of arts degree. Finally, he went on to complete a doctor in education degree in International and multicultural education with a concentration in organization and leadership at the University of San Francisco. Dr. Cervantes' doctoral dissertation will be turned into a book that will be published in late summer focusing on student equity, organizational culture and transformational leadership. He has participated in the Latino Leadership Alliance Institute at Stanford University and continues to be a member of the alliance. He also is a graduate of Leadership Gilroy Class of 2014. Dr. Cervantes was named the National Young Man of the Year and California Man of the year for a national Latino civil rights organization. He has worked in the field of education for more than 15 years. He currently serves Gavilan College students as the coordinator for TRIO Student Support Services Program and the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) Community College Program. He also holds another position as a part-time faculty teaching sociology.

Honorary Degree recipient – Lorraine Welk

For those who know her, the words "tireless," "community-driven," "community spirit" and "Morgan Hill" bring to mind Lorraine Welk. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, she graduated from Brooklyn College with an associate degree in liberal studies. Looking to further enrich her life with real-life experience, she traveled Europe for a year, came back home to New York, and worked for about a year to save money to travel the United States. Welk's travels took her to Tok, Alaska, where she taught school to indigenous Athapascan children. She soon began her career in higher education when she began working for the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. There, Welk met the man who would become her husband. While at the University of Alaska, Lorraine applied at for a position at Stanford University in California to fundraise for its MBA program and was offered the position. The couple moved to California and lived in San Jose, where their two children were born. When their children were 3 and 4, the couple decided to find a more rural place to live, so in 1976 they bought a house in the Jackson Oaks district of Morgan Hill. In 1979, Welk became involved with the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce. In September 1998, she was offered and accepted a position as director of the Gavilan College at Morgan Hill satellite site. She has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and has worked tirelessly over the years for various local organizations such as Leadership Morgan Hill, United Way Silicon Valley, Morgan Hill Community Partnership, Downtown Revitalization Committee and the Gavilan Gala, just to name a few. She has given of herself to support the community she has called home. In November 2014, she retired from Gavilan College. She remains, however, very much a beloved member of the Gavilan College family.


Jan Bernstein Chargin has been the Director of Public Information for Gavilan College since 2001.