January 3, 2005
Three to receive top awards from Alumni Association
on Feb. 5
By Louise Donahue
A gifted Spanish-language teacher, a public defender who successfully
argued a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, and a dedicated
scholarship adviser have been selected to receive the Alumni
Associations highest honors for the 2004-05 year.
M. Victoria González Pagani
Photos: Jim MacKenzie
M. Victoria González Pagani will receive the Distinguished
Teaching Award; Roberto Nájera, the Alumni Achievement
Award; and Cheryl Perazzo, the Outstanding Staff Award.
The three will be honored at the Alumni Association Awards
Luncheon at noon on February 5 at College Nine and College Ten
Multipurpose Room at UCSC. The cost of the luncheon is $18;
RSVPs may be made by calling (831) 459-2530 or online.
Student evaluations of teacher M. Victoria González
Pagani, a leader in the field of language teaching and technology,
stress her extraordinary commitment of time and energy
noted Gildas Hamel, chair of UCSCs Llanguage Program.
I have been impressed by the great respect students have
She is so personally invested as a teacher that students
cannot help but achieve for the sake of making her proud,
one of her students, Lisa Peake, wrote in nominating her for
the award. Several other students in my classes with her
have remarked to me that they must do the assignment because
disappointing such a dedicated teacher is unthinkable.
Her colleagues describe her as generous in sharing her knowledge
at professional gatherings, and note her numerous research projects
aimed at increasing students level of linguistic proficiency.
González Pagani received the Academic Senates Teaching
Excellence Award in 1995-96 and was nominated for the award
three more times.
Alumni Achievement Award recipient Roberto Nájera, who
graduated in 1979 from UCSCs Merrill College with a bachelors
degree in sociology and later from Harvard Law School, was the
child of a widowed farmworker, and spent much of his childhood
picking vegetables on the Monterey coast.
A Contra Costa County deputy public defender in Martinez, Nájera
was an unlikely choice to argue a case before the Supreme Court.
The David-and-Goliath nature of the case, heard in spring 2003,
became even more dramatic when Nájera was diagnosed with
colon cancer. His tumor was removed, and he began chemotherapy
shortly before arguing the case.
Propelling Nájera forward was the belief that a 1993
California law retroactively extending the statute of limitations
for child sexual abuse was unconstitutional because it violated
the Constitutions stated ban on ex post factoor
retroactivelaws. Even if it is for good intentions,
youre rescinding the law, he told the Contra
Costa Times. The Supreme Court agreed, overturning the law
by a 5-4 vote.
Outstanding Staff Award recipient Cheryl Perazzo, scholarship
coordinator for UCSCs Office of Financial Aid, has been
described as a miracle worker for her efforts to
help students. Perazzo, who has been at UCSC since 1984, organized
and implemented the first-ever UCSC Scholars Day in 1996 for
top high school students, resulting in record numbers of Regents
Scholars being recruited to UCSC. She also works closely with
re-entry students and the Page and Eloise Smith Scholastic Societynamed
for Cowell Colleges founding chancellor and his wife--which
helps homeless and runaway youths, foster youth, orphans, and
wards of the court pursue higher education.
Perazzo is also a miracle worker, wrote Anne Smith
Easley, daughter of Page and Eloise Smith. She helps the
students untie the bureaucratic knots that are part of dealing
with any unwieldy institution, Easley added. Through
her efforts, many students are able to stay in school.
One student who came to UCSC as a former foster youth told
of the many ways Perazzo went above and beyond the call
of duty to help her find scholarships and other assistance.
I know I will look back to my college years and see Cheryl
Perazzo as my guiding light, Heather Hazen wrote in her
letter of nomination.
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