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Scholarship named in memory of employee

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The Admissions and Records and Counseling departments of Chabot College will be jointly hosting a silent auction March 17 to raise funds for the newly established MaryLou Cisneros Memorial Veterans Scholarship.

The auction will take place in building 700 with bidding starting at 11:30 a.m. and ending at 1:30 p.m.

Those wishing to contribute to the fundraiser can donate items to be auctioned off, which can be dropped off at the office of Dolly Balangitao the international student admissions coordinator, in building 700.

The scholarship, intended to aid Chabot’s deserving student veterans, honors the memory of former Veteran Benefits Specialist MaryLou Cisneros.

According to Heidi B. Finberg, assistant director of the Chabot College Foundation, criteria for and the amount of the scholarship will be determined in the coming weeks by the foundation and the Student Veteran’s Organization of Chabot College.

The amount, specifically, will be determined by the funds collected at the silent auction fundraiser. Tax-deductible donations are also welcome via check or credit card.

Checks must be made payable to the Chabot College Foundation, room 727-G, and note Cisneros’ name. For credit card donations contact Finberg at 510-723-6936 or hbfinberg@chabotcollege.edu to provide her with the needed information.

Donors may also choose to make a one-time or ongoing contribution via payroll deduction. All donors will receive a letter of acknowledgement for tax purposes, while the foundation will send a card with all donors names to Cisneros’ family.

Cisneros lost her battle with cancer on December 23, 2010. She served Chabot College and its community from 1970 until her passing. Over the years she held the position of payroll technician, student services assistant and, finally, veteran benefits specialist.

In an announcement of Cisneros’ passing sent out to the Chabot community, Dr. Howard Irvin Jr., vice president of student services, wrote, “She was a very pleasant and dedicated employee who always went above and beyond to serve ‘her’ veterans, the Chabot College student population and her colleagues.”

“This is a great loss not only for Chabot and the Chabot – Las Positas District, but also for the community,” wrote Irvin.

Cisneros was born in Hayward on August 7, 1951. She married Cruz Cisneros on October 10, 1970, and had two children, Mario and Danielle.

According to a message approved by Cisneros’ family, “Family was very important to her. She was very proud of her children and stressed the importance of family values and education. She always attended their games, events and extended family functions.”

Many of Cisneros’ colleagues remember her especially for her smile. Finberg wrote, “I have known MaryLou for almost five years and was proud to have worked with her. She had a huge heart and passion for working with our veterans and always had a cheerful word and smile to share.”

Patricia Posada, articulation specialist of Chabot College and dear friend of Cisneros, said in an e-mail correspondence, “You can see her at such a distance and she was already smiling with you without even having a conversation yet.”

Posada also noted Cisneros’ dedication to her work at Chabot:

“She was passionate about her veteran students and the college who could not have picked a better person to handle that special student population. She’s always put them at ease. Students would come asking for her and although others would offer, they’d say, “I’ll be back and see her later.”

Melva Garcia, counselor and instructor at Chabot College, wrote in an e-mail, “She was a dear friend who I miss very much. Ruben Hernandez and I served on her hiring committee in 1992. How she is remembered, are many of same [sic] reasons that we recommended her to be hired.”

“She had a good heart, we knew that students would be well served because of her willingness to go that extra mile. She also had a smile that was contagious. I was honored to have served as both her children’s counselor,” continued Garcia.

Posada, summing up how most people who knew Cisneros feel, now that she is gone, wrote, “Miss you my dear colega, hermana, friend, comadre, you were one positive link to Chabot that is no longer there today. :( <3”

A silent auction fundraiser in honor of MaryLou Cisneros will be helf March 17.

For more information about the auction contact Dolly Balangitao at dbalangitao@chabotcollege.edu or 510-723-6715.

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Local Heroes:


Chabot Veteran’s profile

Charles Vital, a 33-year-old Louisiana native who resides in Hayward, is a Chabot College student and a military veteran.

Vital enlisted in the United States Army from March 1999 to 2005 as a 91 Whiskey, which is a combat medic. After completing boot camp and advanced training he was stationed at Fort Gordon, Georgia, where he went on to reach the rank of E-4, (corporal). During Vital’s enlistment he deployed to Japan and Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, which carries on to this day.

When asked about how he thought his service benefited him, he said “The military taught me discipline, better planning skills, and made me more organized. It also made me grow up and taught me responsibility. On a deeper level, seeing what I have seen I also learned when to have compassion and when not too.”

Vital’s choice to go to school began during his service while stationed at Fort Polk, Vital said “I was stationed 45 minutes away from home and they say when it’s like that you don’t change from your old ways, so at that time I wasn’t too serious about school. When Vital was discharged he soon found steady warehouse work here in Hayward, “I was so used to getting paid on the first and fifteenth, but after a while I got fired and I needed something that would stick, so I thought a college degree would stick.”

Vital is a Psychology major who wants to go to grad school and is interested in becoming a counselor, but he says things have been difficult. “I’m older than some of these young people and realize the advantage they have over me. I graduated in 95, for six years I focused on nothing but military issues and for most of these young people their high school information is still fresh, especially English and Math.”

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Student veterans gathering on campus


Club Profile: Student Veterans Organization of Chabot College

“Students helping students.” That’s the slogan of a new club on campus, the Student Veterans Organization of Chabot College.

The club’s mission statement reads, “Our mission is to support veterans by providing assistance and access to financial aid, administration, academic support, and an avenue for open discussion, sharing and new ideas. We want to foster camaraderie, military values and a sense of belonging. In addition, we want to create an understanding of veterans’ needs and experiences among the student body, faculty and community.”

Titawny Cook, president of the Student Veterans Organization (SVO), said his reasons for creating the club were to help veterans and to raise veteran awareness. “I want to help veterans because I know what it feels like to be one,” said Cook, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served from 2000 – 2004.

More and more veterans are returning from the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with going back to school as the only option for pushing forward in their lives.

Although affordable, with the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, and clearly productive, returning to the classroom after surviving war is often a difficult transition for veterans.

The majority of these veterans are returning with physical and mental injuries, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), that make readjustment to civilian life an ongoing and everyday struggle.

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, experts believe PTSD occurs in 11 to 20 percent of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and currently 397,019 veterans, from all wars, receive compensation for PTSD as of June 30, 2010.

These statistics do not address the many cases of life-altering combat trauma that goes unreported and untreated. In any case it is crucial for veterans to have a support system they can rely on, especially in the stressful academic environment.

When talking about what he expects for SVO, Cook said he wants to “create a support system to help them (veterans) become connected to the community and provide a resource that will carry on in the future for veterans who come to Chabot after I’m gone.”

“We owe it to ourselves to show support for our brothers so that they can come to school and get help,” said Cook.

In honor of Veterans Day on Nov. 11, SVO will be showcasing a display of student collected military photos in Building 400 and handing out brochures on the history of Veterans Day.

SVO hosted a public barbecue on Oct. 27 and, according to the club’s Web site, is planning more events such as military movie nights, shooting range visits and outdoor hikes in order to build a sense of community and support.

Already scheduled is a military movie night featuring “What Price Glory” directed by John Ford on Wednesday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m.

Veterans and non-veterans alike are welcome to the movie night and all meetings. The next club meeting will be held Wednesday, Nov. 10 at 3 p.m. in Building 400, Room 405.

Make sure to check out the Student Veterans Organization of Chabot College during “Club Rush” today between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the quad.

For more information regarding the club and upcoming events contact advisor Mark Stephens at mstephens@chabotcollege.edu or visit the club’s Web site at www.svocc.wordpress.com.

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Daniel Estrada of Chabot (8) outkicks the field with a time of 1:58.75 during the Hornet Invitational on Mar. 22, 2014 at Sacramento State. Estrada is the first Gladiator to break the 2:00 mark this year, just 3 weeks ago his personal best was a 2:10!! #tracknation #chabog #track
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