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Consensus Organizing Center

Rubi Aguilar Award

Rubi Aguilar is one of the first graduates of the Step-Up Program. Rubi came to the United States with her mother and three siblings from Mexico at the age of seven. Since the age of twelve, Rubi understood the importance of a higher education and strived for the best academically; she even graduated in the top five percent of her high school class.

After graduating from the Step-Up Program Rubi became even more excited about going to college and began researching which colleges to apply for. During her search, she discovered because she did not have a social security number and would have to pay out of state tuition. Devastated, Rubi did not give up on her dream of going to college and instead began working below minimum wage jobs to raise money to pay for her admission fees to a university. Months before graduating from high school Rubi was notified that she was accepted on merit to San Diego State University.
However, Rubi did not stop there, she began speaking to politicians and writing them letters about the injustices against people like herself who did not come by choice to this country, yet still wanted an education. In 2001, the governor of California gave Rubi and thousands of other students in similar circumstances as Rubi the status of Californians and the opportunity to go to college through Assembly Bill (AB) 540. The Rubi Aguilar Award is given to students who despite overwhelming obstacles have worked to successfully achieve their goals.

Recipients of the Rubi Aguilar Award

rubi aguilar award consensus organizing center2003 Yahira Martinez

2004 Raquel Ramirez

2005 Carla Cayanan

2006 Lily Martinez

2008 Deyce Gomez

2009 Carmen Monea Jimenez

2010 Mei Sun Hong

2011 Roberto Carcamo

2012 Virginia Morales

2013 Alejandra Salgada

2014 Sophia Johannesen

2015 Jesus Herrera

2016 Estrella Palmerin

2017 Rocio Perez

Consensus Organizer of the Year Award

Each year the Consensus Organizing Center selects one person to receive the prestigious Consensus Organizer of the Year Award. This award is given to individuals who work effectively behind the scenes and giving others credit for success while bringing people together unselfishly and creatively.

Recipients of the Consensus Organizing of the Year Award

2004 Barb Smith, SDSU Women’s Basketball Coach

2005 Karolina Ericsson, ESQ Ericsson Law Group

2006 Professor Ternot MacRenato, Professor San Diego City College

2007 Doug Williams, Hoover High School Principal

2008 Dr. Stephen Weber, President San Diego State University

2009 Janet Weinstein, Professor California Western School of Law

2010 Nora Welshans, Outreach Specialist Hoover High School

2011 Ann Bossler, Price Charities

2012 Seema Sueko, Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company

2013 Pamela George, Department Head, Child Development, Camp, Literacy, and Teens Copely Family YMCA

2014 Sarah Bess Hudson, MSW, EmpowerMEnt at Multi-Agency Alliance for Children

2015 Hector Borja, Director of Teens, Copley-Price YMCA

2016 Darren Schwartz, Motiv San Diego

2017 Lara Blouin, Director, College Avenue Baptist Church Preschool

2018 Melinda Hohman, Emeritus Faculty, School of Social Work, SDSU

The Ernest and Betty Singer Scholarship

Ernest Singer was a humanitarian, scholar, and advocate for social justice. In 2010, thanks in large part to Ernest’s wife, Betty, and Dr. Thom Reilly, Director of the School of Social Work at SDSU, the Ernest and Betty Singer Scholarship was established to honor Ernest and Betty’s life and support SDSU Master of Social Work students pursuing a Community Development/Administration focus. The scholarship assists recipients as they complete their MSW and helps seed their initial work in community practice.

Recipients of the Ernest and Betty Singer Scholarship

2010-2011: Laura Cohen. During her time as an Ernest and Betty Singer Scholar, Laura reinvigorated the Linda Vista community by helping create an after school tutoring and homework club at the Linda Vista Library, which the community identified as a need. She also helped establish a Youth After school Kouncil, called “YAK”, that is managed by local teens and encourages youth to make the library a hub and meeting place for the community.
2011-2012: Hieu Bui. Hieu worked with the San Diego Futures Foundation to connect low-income residents, people with disabilities, and seniors with free computer equipment and training. Hieu also assisted the Safety Initiative headed by the Consensus Organizing Center, where she identified safety concerns of residents and developed innovative ways to create a safer community.
2012-2013: Jessica Manning: Jessica worked with the Step Up Program at the Consensus Organizing Center, which is designed to engage, educate, and empower underserved high school students to achieve a post-secondary education. Jessica recruited, interviewed, and selected high school juniors from Hoover High School and enrolled them in an Introduction to Social Work course at SDSU. Additionally, she engaged community service sites to fulfill the service learning component of the course and maintained follow-through with the sites. She hopes to one day work with underrepresented women in her community towards the betterment of their health.
2013-2014: Alicia Morris & Anne Vollman. Alicia worked with Feeding America San Diego (FASD) to monitor food safety practices and assess FASD food distribution partner needs to ensure clients receive safe food in a respectful manner. She also engaged the community to lobby on behalf of anti-hunger legislation. Anne managed the Consensus Organizing Center’s Step Up program, which motivates and empowers high school students from San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood to pursue higher education. In addition to coordinating all aspects of the academic component of Step Up, she also organized the students’ volunteer work, which lead to the students donating over 800 hours of service to the YMCA, City Heights Community Development Corporation, College Avenue Baptist Church Preschool, and Community Housing Works – Bandar Salaam.
2014-2015: Kayla Alsagoff. Kayla’s community development internship experience includes working at the San Diego Military Family Collaborative helping reduce duplication of services and ensure a smoother referral system for military families needing services across San Diego County as well as co-coordinating a free county-wide resource fair inside the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center to increase access to resources for military families. She also created a peer-to-peer mentoring program in the SDSU School of Social Work in response to the students’ increasing need for more peer support and guidance during their time in the Social Work MSW program.
2015-2016: Rachel Ruiz and Amber Sparks. Rachel interned at Bayside Community Center in Linda Vista, CA where she facilitated the youth Resident Leadership Academy, which teaches community members public speaking and advocacy skills. In addition, Rachel supported adult resident leaders on community improvement projects and with the Cooperative Leadership Academy, an initiative to provide residents with access to University-level classes. During her time there, Rachel also planned and implemented various cultural events and community meetings. Amber managed the Step Up Program where she recruited participants, managed day-to-day functions of the program, supervised teaching assistants, and mentored the Step Up youth. This year, Amber had the opportunity to implement new systems to track the progress of the students in both the Step Up and FYI programs and to increase the efficiency of the COC team. One of her goals was to ensure that every junior at Hoover High School had an equal opportunity to apply for the Step Up Program. Another goal this year has been to solidify community partnerships. Amber worked hard this year to continue to foster the commitment between the COC and the three community organizations that hosted the Step Up volunteers.
Gemmaleen Aque
Kaitlyn Dixon
Victoria Kapper
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